How to Make Ghee

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How to make ghee from butter for cooking and baking. A step-by-step guide for the butter clarification process for producing richly flavored oil with nutty and toffee flavors.

How to make ghee from butter for cooking and baking. A step-by-step guide for the butter clarification process for producing richly flavored oil with nutty and toffee flavors.

What is Ghee? A staple of Indian cuisine, this specially prepared clarified butter is traditionally made by slowly simmering butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids gently brown. The butter clarification process yields a richly flavored butter oil with nutty and toffee flavors.

It has become a popular oil to use for people with slight dairy sensitivities, Paleo diet, and Whole30 program because most of the lactose sugar and casein proteins are removed that may pose health issues. High quality pastured, grass-fed and organic butter is recommended for these diets.

From a cooking perspective, ghee provides a lovely flavor to recipes. By removing the milk solids from the butter, the smoke point increases significantly. This means that instead of the butter solids burning under high heat at around 350°F, only the butterfat remains and can be heated to 485°F before breaking down. The high smoke point makes it an excellent cooking oil for sauteeing, stir-frying and roasting foods.

Slices of butter stacked on a scale.

How to Make Ghee

When butter is clarified the milk solids like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are removed, except for the fat-soluble vitamins. Butter is composed of milk fat (at least 80%), milk solids (about 1%), and water (16 to 18%).

To successfully make ghee, the process starts with simmering butter between 221 to 244°F to evaporate the water. The temperature is then elevated to above 266 °F so the lactose, casein and whey proteins experience the Maillard reaction.

Browning the milk solids adds wonderfully toasted flavors that become infused with the butter oil. To prevent burning of the milk solids, the butter should not reach its smoke point of 350°F. You can use an instant-read thermometer for more accuracy to check the temperatures.

Here is the step-by-step on how to make ghee:

STEP 1: Melt the Butter

Slices of butter melting in a stainless steel pan.

Use a heavy-bottomed pan, dutch oven, or stainless steel skillet so that the milk solids do not rapidly burn. It’s best to cut the butter into smaller pieces so it melts evenly and the solids brown consistently. Apply medium heat to melt the butter, then reduce to medium-low to simmer.

STEP 2: Allow Solids to Separate and Remove

Spoon skimming separated milk proteins from a pan butter.

Once the butter has completely melted, it will bubble and begin to separate. As the butter simmers, some of the milk proteins rise and sit on the surface as it separates from the fat and water.

Use a spoon to skim the white solids on the surface and discard. This process takes time for the butter oil to turn clear, so continually remove the solids. At this point clarified butter is made. The remaining steps will give ghee a toasted nutty flavor.

STEP 3: Allow Remaining Solids to Sink

White solids lingering on the bottom of a pan of clarified butter.

Once most of the milk solids have been removed from the surface of the butter, there will be some white solids lingering on the bottom. Leave those so that they can be additionally heated and deepen in color through the Maillard browning reaction, creating butterscotch-like flavors.

STEP 4: Brown the Butter Solids

Browning butter in a stainless steel pan.

Continue to simmer the butter over medium-low heat. Make sure not to take your eyes off the butter. It will quickly begin to change a golden color with amber brown solids formed at the bottom of the pan. When you see this change and smell toffee flavors, it’s time to turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.

STEP 5: Strain the Brown Butter Solids

Pouring brown butter through a cheesecloth and strainer into a glass measuring cup.

Allow the ghee to cool slightly for about 3 to 5 minutes. Line a fine-mesh strainer with at least a triple layer of cheesecloth. Place the lined strainer over a heatproof container like a glass measuring cup. Carefully pour the butter oil through the sieve, the browned solids should get collected on the cheesecloth.

Done! – Homemade Ghee

Homemade ghee in a glass jar.

Transfer the ghee to a clean and dry glass jar which can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months, or refrigerated for 1 year. The butterfat will naturally solidify at room temperature and below, creating an oil that needs to be scooped out of the container.

Refrigerated ghee in a glass jar with a spoon.

Recipes to make with Ghee

Now that you know how to make liquid gold, it’s time to make some recipes!

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How to Make Ghee

Informational guide on how to make ghee from butter for cooking and baking. A step-by-step guide for the butter clarification process for making richly flavored homemade ghee.
4.97 from 81 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Course Condiment
Cuisine Indian

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound unsalted butter

Instructions 

  • Cut butter into even pieces and place in a large heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven.
  • Turn heat to medium and allow butter to melt. Once melted simmer over medium-low heat.
  • Gently simmer the butter until the solids float to the surface, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the how hot the stovetop and pan used. Bubbling will also occur with the foaming.
  • Meanwhile, use a slotted spoon to remove the white frothy milk solids from the surface of the melted butter and discard. This can be done as soon as you see the solids rising to the top.
  • Once the surface solids are removed, only yellow butterfat and white milk solids that have sunk to the bottom will remain.
  • Continue to simmer the clarified butter until milk solids on the bottom are light amber in color, and the butterfat becomes a deep golden yellow color. The ghee should smell nutty when done. Time will vary depending on your stove.
  • Turn off heat and remove the pan from the stove to ensure that the browned milk solids do not burn.
  • Allow the ghee to slightly cool for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Set a fine-mesh strainer over a heat-proof bowl or cup. Line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth that hangs over the edges of the strainer.
  • Carefully pour the ghee through the lined strainer into the container. The browned milk solids should collect in the cheesecloth.
  • Transfer the ghee to a clean glass jar with a lid.
  • Ghee can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 months, or 1 year in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 1 ½ cups (12 ounces)
  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon (30 g)
  • If following the Whole30 diet, it is recommended to use a pastured, grass-fed, organic source of butter, however, that criteria are not mandatory.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 24 servings
Calories 100kcal (5%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 7g (35%)Cholesterol 30mg (10%)Vitamin A 400IU (8%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

124 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Juerg Stucki says

    Dear Jessica,
    The temperatures in the process you’ve described are perfect according to my observations.

    However, I obtained the best results by heating up the butter quite quickly to 105 to 110°C (221 to 230°F), then I stabilize the temperature until there is nearly no formation of foam anymore. Then I heat the butter up to 125 to 130°C (257 to 266°F), remove the newly occurring foam with a coffee sieve. Then I pour it through a funnel with a coffee sieve in it into marmelade jars, remove last rests of foam in the jars with the coffee sieve, before closing the jars with the screw caps.

    Heating up the butter too slowly resulted finally in more burnt remains on the bottom of the pan, what made the cleaning of the pan quite boring)

    To control the process I use an oven/grill thermometer.

    From 1250 g (44.09 oz.) of Butter usually get approx. 900 g (31.75 oz) of ghee.

    Your description of the ghee production is excellent, the best I could find on internet.

    Thank you very much.

    Juerg Stucki, Lucerne/Switzerland

  2. Heatheranne Bullen says

    Thank you Jessica, My Grandfather used to carry butter in a tin on his journeys in central Australia 100 years ago. He had no refrigeration and was travelling on a camel. Now I understand. thank you

  3. BB says

    Made it! Daughter is visiting this weekend she loves to cook but has gone to no processed foods or animal fats so I’m making ahead things that make eating most enjoyable! Thanks for your clear, concise directions! Came out perfectly! I now have a jar of liquid gold on my countertop!

  4. Aya says

    Hi, sometimes the ghee comes out semi liquid, runny and there’s oil on the top. I think I’ve overcooked it also. Why is it not homogeneous and solid at room temperature?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Aya- Once you melt the butter, the phases will separate (fat, protein, carbohydrates, milk solids, vitamins and minerals). You want to skim the white foam on top, lightly brown the milk solids, then strain the fat. It should get solid at room temperature over time, or you can store in the refrigerator if you want it to firm it up faster.

  5. Carol Skaff says

    A new idea: Use a natural bristle basting brush to remove the foam that comes to the top during heating. Less waste of the precious liquid butter and so much easier than skimming with a spoon.

  6. Em D says

    Hi, I have been making ghee by skimming off the solids, as you suggest, for years although am aware that there are literally hundreds of videos, etc, out there that do not mention skimming the solids off at all, rather letting them go to the bottom of the pan where they then tend to caramelise.

    I’d really appreciate your thoughts and insights about skimming versus not skimming, please!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I like to skim the milk solids that float up to the top, which are mainly whey proteins. Skimming helps me monitor the browning and evaporation of the water process better. There will still be some that remain at the bottom of the pan, plus lactose, which caramelizes to help create the toffee-like flavor and brown color. If you don’t skim, there are higher chances that the solids can burn. However, just make sure to keep a close eye on the color change and monitor the temperature if you go that route.

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