How to Make Clarified Butter

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Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter has a more concentrated, richer flavor, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.

A pot of clarified butter.

When you make clarified butter, you skim milk solids off the top of melted butter and leave released water in the bottom of the pan. The stuff in the middle, the liquid gold, is 100% pure butterfat.

This means a higher smoke point, a longer shelf life, and a more versatile substance great for making everything from stir-fries to sauces.

This recipe is not for Ghee, specific type of clarified butter that is shelf-stable at room temperature, although I cover the differences and how to make it in the FAQ section.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. How to Make Clarified Butter Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Ingredient needed to make clarified butter.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Better butter: The best butter for clarifying is European-style, imported butter. These butters usually contain more milk fat than American butter (82% to 86% milk fat in European vs. 80% to 82% in American). After clarifying some store-brand or other inexpensive butters, I was left with what looked like a pan of yellow water. Not appetizing! If you are clarifying butter to make a delicious Hollandaise Sauce, choose a delicious butter (since Hollandaise Sauce is mostly butter). But If you’re clarifying butter to make a stir-fry, the quality won’t be quite as important.
  • Butter solids: You can lightly brown the butter solids (the layer you scooped off the top) in a small amount of clarified butter to make “browned butter.” Then, add to cookies, vegetables, soups, mashed potatoes for extra butter flavor, or use as a condiment on bread.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, warm butter without boiling or agitation of any kind. As the butter melts, the solids rise to the top and water sinks to the bottom. Sometimes the solids appear to bubble up from the bottom.
Skimming solids off the top of clarified butter.
  1. When the butter is melted, skim the milk solids from the top using a ladle or slotted spoon (see notes for ideas of what to do with the solids).
Skimming solids off the top of clarified butter.
  1. When the skim solids have been removed, transfer the butterfat to a clean saucepan or bowl using a ladle. Leave the water in the bottom of the original saucepan.
A pot of clarified butter.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: 1 pound of butter yields about 12 ounces of clarified butter.
  • Storage: Store clarified butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  • Freezer: Pack in a freezer-safe container, label, date, and freeze clarified butter for up to 6 months.
  • Serving suggestions: Drizzle hot clarified butter over your next steak or beef roast for extra richness. Or, try on pancakes and roasted vegetables (especially potatoes). Clarified butter is also an ingredient in some Hollandaise recipes.

Recipe FAQs

Are clarified butter and ghee the same thing?

Clarified butter and ghee are almost the same thing. They are both regular butter with the milk and water solids removed (leave pure butterfat). Ghee is a particular type of clarified butter normally used in Indian cooking.

How do you make ghee?

Clarified butter is often made by melting butter, skimming off the foam, and leaving the water in the bottom of the pan. Ghee, however, is boiled rapidly until the water in the butter actually boils off and the milk proteins brown. You strain the ghee to remove the milk solids and the resulting butterfat, ghee, is pure and can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months or 1 year in the refrigerator.

What is the smoking point of clarified butter?

Because clarified butter is pure butterfat, it has a higher smoke point (about 450 degrees) compared to regular butter (about 350 degrees).

Is clarified butter shelf-stable?

The clarified butter method in this recipe does not produce shelf-stable butter and must be kept in the refrigerator. Ghee, which has been boiled for at least 10 minutes to remove the water, and then strained to completely remove all milk solids, is the shelf-stable version for up to 3 months or can be refrigerated for up to 1 year.

Eggs benedict on a white plate.

More ways to enjoy clarified butter

How to Make Clarified Butter

Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter has a more concentrated, richer flavor, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.

Cook Time 15 my s

Total Time 15 my s

Servings 12 ounces

Course Pantry

Cuisine American

Calories 271

  • In a small saucepan over low heat, warm butter without boiling or agitation of any kind.

  • As the butter melts, the solids rise to the top and water sinks to the bottom. Sometimes the solids appear to bubble up from the bottom.

  • When the butter is melted, skim the milk solids from the top using a ladle or slotted spoon (see notes for ideas of what to do with the solids).

  • When the skim solids have been removed, transfer the butterfat to a clean saucepan or bowl using a ladle. Leave the water in the bottom of the original saucepan.

  1. Better butter: The best butter for clarifying is European-style, imported butter. These butters usually contain more milk fat than American butter (82% to 86% milk fat in European vs. 80% to 82% in American). After clarifying some store-brand or other inexpensive butters, I was left with what looked like a pan of yellow water. Not appetizing! If you are clarifying butter to make a delicious Hollandaise Sauce, choose a delicious butter (since Hollandaise Sauce is mostly butter). But If you’re clarifying butter to make a stir-fry, the quality won’t be quite as important.
  2. Butter solids: You can lightly brown the butter solids (the layer you scooped off the top) in a small amount of clarified butter to make “browned butter.” Then, add to cookies, vegetables, soups, mashed potatoes for extra butter flavor, or use as a condiment on bread.
  3. Yield: 1 pound of butter yields about 12 ounces of clarified butter.
  4. Storage: Store clarified butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  5. Freezer: Pack in a freezer-safe container, label, date, and freeze clarified butter for up to 6 months.

Serving: 1servingCalories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 0.02gProtein: 0.3gDish: 31gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 4mgPotassium: 9mgSugar: 0.02gVitamin A: 945IUCalcium: 9mgIron: 0.01mg


Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.


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