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Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter - A Family Feast

We’re back with our latest Sunday Cooking Lesson and today we’re going to teach you how to make Clarified Butter!

Clarified butter, sometimes also known as drawn butter, is simply milk fat that has been rendered from butter, leaving the milk solids behind. This rendered milk fat is called clarified butter and it’s used in a variety of recipes that typically involve sautéing or searing – in part because clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter - A Family Feast

Sure – you can most likely use regular unsalted butter when cooking most of the time, but for some dishes (like our pan seared scallops recipe – coming tomorrow!) a clarified butter is recommended so that the moisture and solids don’t ruin a more delicate recipe.

Clarified butter is often used served as a side to seafood.  Clarified butter can also be stored refrigerated or frozen for longer than fresh, regular butter.   Additionally, according to Wikipedia, it “…has negligible amounts of lactose and casein and is, therefore, acceptable to most who have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy.”

Here’s how you make it:

Begin with 8 ounces (2 sticks) of unsalted butter.  This will yield 6 ounces in the end (so a 25% loss of volume after the butter has been clarified).

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter - A Family Feast

In a small to medium heavy bottomed pan, over low heat, melt butter and allow it to sit slightly bubbling for 20 minutes from the time you turn the burner on.  Note that the butter will splatter and pop a bit as the milk solids separate from the milk fat.

After 20 minutes remove from heat and with a small ladle or soup spoon, skim off the foam that floats to the top.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter - A Family Feast

(The foam that you remove can be used to spread on your morning muffin or discarded.)

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter - A Family Feast

Place a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or muslin over a bowl, and slowly pour in the milk fat, trying to keep any solids that might be left in the bottom of the pan.

What you will be left with (in the bowl) will be clarified butter which can be stored and used in a variety of recipes.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Clarified Butter - A Family Feast



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  1. I have a question, not a comment. I usually use Kellygold Irish butter…I find it doesn’t separate like Land o Lakes or Cabot….although I’ve never let it bubble for 20 minutes either…can you please advise? I found you by Googling recipe for pan seared scallops. I was delighted to see you are south of Beantown…I’m on the Cape!

    • Hi Stephanie – So glad you found us. We’re in South Plymouth – so we’re practically neighbors! 🙂 Your question is very timely…we actually just made some clarified butter using Finlandia butter which I think is similar to Kerrygold. We noticed that the clarified butter took longer to separate and it was cloudier too than the Land o Lakes. I suspect it has something to do with the higher milk fat content. Maybe try letting it bubble a bit longer with the Kerrygold? Hope that helps! Martha