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.
Pin Print Review
4.12 from 26 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
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 1/2 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.

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Nutrition Facts
How to Make Ghee
Amount Per Serving
Calories 100 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Cholesterol 30mg10%
Vitamin A 400IU8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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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

85 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Good Morning Jessica,

    I have been meaning to look up Ghee and see exactly what it is. Now I have the answer plus so much more thanks to our Food Scientist.

    Thank you
    Judy

      • Quiet Chef says

        You can totally add browned milk solids to a nice espagnole sauce to add an extra kick of flavor. Or they can be added to a spread to add some nutty tones, Goats cheese works well with them.

        Never use if you have any doubt as to their non-burnt status though.

        Happy cooking 🙂

      • Finn says

        I use the butter solids for making ice cream!! There are a few recipes in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home that have butter solids infused into the ice cream base. Brown butter almond brittle, toasted brioche with butter and jam, and butter ice cream with honey hickory pralines. They are all delicious and add a great toasted buttery flavor!

      • Avi says

        Back in India, when mom used to make ghee, the brown portion, which is called khakhori (the scraps), was eaten with some salt as is, or add it to cooked rice with some salt and black pepper and enjoy. Usually 1 tsp should be enough for a cup of cooked rice. It can even be applied to indian chapati with bit of ghee salt and pepper. All these taste yummy.

  2. Julie says

    I was wondering if it’s ok to make ghee following your recipe using salted butter. I don’t like regular unsalted butter.

      • Paula says

        Jessica, I used salted butter to make the ghee since I didn’t have unsalted, and the milk solids that came out were so salty I couldn’t believe it! My son suggested melting and pouring on popcorn. 🙂 I think I will just discard since it it so salty. Thanks for showing us how to make this.

  3. Bob Arnott says

    Hi Jessica,
    I made my first batch of ghee today, cooking for 20 minutes.
    It tastes and smells very butterscotchy, way more than I was expecting to be honest.
    Would you consider this to me normal?
    Thanks,
    Bob (Harrogate, UK.)

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Bob-How exciting! Yes, the strong butterscotch note is what I try to target, but you could always just melt it to the point of clarified butter with no browning, or brown the milk solids less so the aroma is not as strong.

      • Bob Arnott says

        Hi Jessica,
        Many thanks for your prompt response. Even though it has the strong aroma, I find it more agreeable than some of the store-bought brands (usually in cans) which to me, always smell rancid.
        I’ll give this batch a go (does look appealing though in the glass jar with a nice colour) and probably take your advice and cook for less time in future.
        Thanks again.
        Bob

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Thanks for your feedback Bob! I love having the ghee on hand, let me know how you enjoy cooking with it!

          • Bob Arnott says

            Hi Jessica,
            Just thought I’d drop you a line with a ‘Ghee Update’!
            After my ghee had solidified and aged a day or two I found that the overpowering butterscotch flavour/aroma had all but disappeared. Whilst there are still hints of this, it has in the main taken on a more balanced and rounded ‘nutty’ note and is now the product I was looking to create. For dinner today I prepared an awesome (even though I say it myself!) Bengali-style lamb curry using a blend of the ghee and mustard oil. I regularly cook Indian/Pakistani curries but have always steered clear of using ghee finding the shop-bought products rather disagreeable as I mentioned previously.
            So I would like to say a big thank you for your wonderfully insightful and clear instructions which have enabled me to lift my recipes to a new level.
            Thanks again Jessica.
            Kind Regards,
            Bob

          • Jessica Gavin says

            Thank you for reporting back Bob! That’s great that the ghee mellowed out to a more balanced flavor that you were looking for. The lamb curry sounds incredible! Your comment really made my day and keep me motivated to create and share. You are a rockstar in the kitchen, keep it up!

  4. Karen S. says

    I first saw Ghee at a Middle Eastern Market and wondered what it was, went home and Googled it. We recently retired and are going camping completely off the grid here in California. THIS would be perfect as it doesn’t require refrigeration, so I bought some and tried it and WOW! We caught fish and used a tiny bit of ghee to cook them on an open fire, BEST FISH EVER! I wanted to make my own, first time, and it was a TOTAL success! I want to thank you for instilling the confidence in me to even try this. I took a photo but I can’t upload it. Again, thank you!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are on quite the adventure Karen, how neat! I love the extra depth of flavor the ghee adds to everything 🙂 I’m so thrilled that the hot to make ghee tutorial was helpful and you feel empowered to make it any time you like. You are so welcome!

  5. Helen says

    Just put my first batch in jars. Another site recommended mixing the browned milk solids with flour and honey to make a kind of fudge. So I’m off to do that. I really appreciate the detail and care you gave in your instructions here. Your photos were perfect. Do you ever do anything with the foam?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo hoo! Wow, that fudge sounds amazing. I’m so happy to hear that the tutorial worked for you! The foamy milk solids would be yummy to add to oatmeal, or to make a creamy sauce, and I’m sure it would be lovely in a pancake or muffin batter!

  6. ChicagoMom says

    I recently retired and realized, after 20 years of sitting, I need to get healthier
    I heard about ghee in Whole30 but am not ready to commit.
    I also have a milk allergy and thought ghee would be perfect as a starting point.
    Thank you for your clear, well written instructions. I am a visual learner and appreciative of your many photos. They are very helpful.

    Thank you for your aticle

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are so welcome! Happy to hear that you found the step-by-step for making ghee helpful 🙂 I can’t wait for you to use it!

  7. Jonathan R says

    HI JESSICA!!!
    I have come back to your article a few times mostly to remind myself of the temps … with the knowledge from your article I have been making ghee for the last 3 or 4 months … enough that I have given away some to people I love and care about (share the love!!)…. i really love the butterscotchy smell and this stuff works awesome when i make popcorn with it!!! thank you thank you ????
    -Jonathan

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, you are a ghee pro! Mine is just running out and you reminded me to make more. I’m so happy that you are making the recipe and sharing it too!

  8. J. L. says

    Why does everyone say ghee is shelf stable for 3 months, 1 year refrigerated?

    South-Asians laugh at that. Kept clean in a sealed container it keeps MUCH longer, almost indefinitely.

    That’s why South-Asians came up with it in the first place.

  9. Dick says

    Made my first batch of ghee today. I was too eager and didn’t allow it to turn as dark as that in the photo , although I smelled toffee. Will be more patient making the next batch. Thanks for the recipe, Jessica.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great job Dick! I’m sure it will still taste delicious, I can’t wait to hear how your next batch goes.

  10. Kristen says

    I am making my third batch of ghee right now, using your recipe! I’ve made clarified butter before, but can hardly go back now that I’ve found your toasty version. I even brought it with me for my bulletproof coffee on my trip to Oregon…we ended up using some for the crabs we caught and steamed and it was outrageously good!! Before I began making my own, I was using TJ’s ghee…I don’t think I can ever go back to that now that I know the flavor/texture of homemade.
    One question, though: I’ve been using raw-organic-grass-fed butter from local farm here in Missouri and when it’s doimg its roasting thing, mine ends up more frothy/bubbly on top compared to your oh-so-smooth, transparent recipe pics. Still turns out fine, but wondering if there’s something different I should be doing since it appears maybe there’s different water or fat content in mine. Any thoughts?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I love hearing about your ghee adventures Kristen! Are you skimming off the frothy stuff on top? I do as much as I can. I could be some additional impurities in the raw milk since it hasn’t been homogenized, filtered, and pasteurized.

  11. Barbara says

    Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for your recipe!
    I have a couple of questions: I’ve been making ghee for a couple of years by now, but I don’t skim the top – I figured it just solidifies with the rest and gets strained later, so there’s no need. Am I wrong? Do you happen to know why it needs to be skimmed? It always turns out beautiful and delicious, so I haven’t really worried about it.
    Also, some recipes say that you should percolate it at very low heat for hours, but others tell you to just cook it sort of quickly. I make mine quickly, it only takes about 10 mins. Do you know why? Does it affect storage time or final product in any way?
    Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Barbara- If your method works for not skimming, feel free to keep doing that way. I’m just found it’s easier to see when the solids on the bottom begin to brown if I’ve removed the impurities that rise to the top. I’m not sure why to cook it for hours, maybe so slowly make it brown, but I always do it relatively fast. I don’t think the storage is affected either way.

    • Lizzie says

      Re: slow or fast cooking your ghee. Slow cooking will allow more residual water to evaporate. There isn’t much water in butter, but there is a little. Since moisture (including condensation in the jar, for those of us in humid climates) is one of the few things that can cause ghee to get a bit rancid after a while, the slow-cooked version may in fact have a slightly longer shelf life. (Water basically does the same thing as air: the oxygen in it reacts very slowly with the oil molecules and causes them to break down.) Slightly musty ghee is still edible, though. Rancid oils won’t make you sick like bacterial spoilage, but the free radicals released when the long oil chains break down probably aren’t so good for you in the long term.

  12. Sarah says

    Hi Jessica! Making ghee for the first time! I’m wondering if you can put ghee in the fridge to solidify and then use to make buttercream frosting?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Sarah- Great question! I’ve never made buttercream frosting from ghee before. I’m not quite sure if that would work, but perhaps you could give it a try! Are you trying to just remove the dairy solids?

  13. Carolyn says

    Thanks for giving the history of ghee. I made it to use with the Whole 30 and knew about it from our Food Coop days but didn’t realize it had such a long history.

  14. Andrew says

    Hi Jessica, I’m concerned about the temperature to cook the butter at when making ghee. Could you elaborate more about proper cooking temperatures for making ghee, and if high temperatures would affect the nutrutional value of the finished ghee? Thanks!

  15. Adele Nader says

    Perfect instructions and my ghee came out beautifully! Thank you!! This was so easy and I will never buy store bought ghee again – this tastes even better. Thanks again!

  16. venkat says

    I remember in my young days when my grandma made ghee she did not remove the white milk solids. finally milk solids become slightly burnt and black and when filtered we children used to eat it.

  17. Steve says

    I have made ghee several times but the last time it did not set up. I have oil laying on top after filtering into jar.
    Could this be from over cooking?

  18. Holly says

    I have been making ghee for a long time and can never seem to get the consistency right. I always watch the milk solids to brown and pull it right before they burn but sometimes the ghee doesn’t set. What am I do incorrectly? Thanks for your help!

  19. Vherle5 says

    If the ghee gets dark brown, that is, if the milk solids burn a bit, is it bad for your health? It doesn’t taste too bad!

  20. Joyce Carpenter says

    I made Ghee today for the first time. It was not difficult and it is delicious. I am sensitive to Milk products. Thanks for your instructions and for your generous sharing.

  21. Gilbert says

    Hi Jessica

    Great recipe, very detailed
    I wonder if I can use heavy bottom an enamel pan to make ghee?

    Thanks for your time

  22. Swathi says

    Very nice
    . Could perfectly do the ghee. Can u please post a blog on how to do sweet cream from butter ? Thanks
    Love,
    Swathi
    California

  23. Caroline says

    The best Ghee instructions I’ve found – so many say they’re making Ghee but really it’s only clarified butter; or they miss out a stage, or are not detailed enough. Yours are fabulous.. I’ve been recommending your site to my friends who have dairy issues, so thank you.

  24. Maria says

    Thank you SO much for the science behind Ghee and the clear directions to make it. My family and only animal products and animal fats are one of our most important foods. Today I made my first batch of ghee following you recipe using Menonite organic hand-made butter. My house smells like heaven!

  25. Nancy Joy says

    Thank you so very much for your easy to follow recipe. Trust me I’ve looked at many and they’ve made the process so convoluted that I gave up trying. However, after seeing your recipe, time and explanation I was inspired to try. I have just made my first jar of ghee using 500g unsalted butter and I can’t wait to share. I wish I can share my pic lol

  26. Mike says

    Great instructions especially with the relative temps during the process. I used to just wing it, ending up somewhere between clarified butter and actual ghee. This ghee came out great! Thanks!

  27. Swathi says

    Such a clear explanation with words and pictures. I have been making the perfect ghee ever since this blog. Thanks for this blog. Every time I make ghee I remember you. In India we relish ghee with every Indian delicacy and even regular foods like rasam, rice.
    I don’t miss my grandma’s home made ghee anymore back from India because I make it equivalently good ghee now 😊

  28. LARRY says

    Thanks for this great recipe. Up until now,I’ve been buying it at $12.00 a one pint jar. I used Aldi house brand butter at $1.99 a pound and got 11 ounces of beautiful, lovely rich smelling ghee. Just in time to go with tonight’s dinner of Chicken Tikka Masala, Sag Paneer and fresh made Naan Bread. Thanks!

  29. Bob Sewell says

    Hi, Jessica –
    I have just recently discovered your website, and thoroughly enjoy your clear instructions along with the background information on underlying chemical reactions or other relevant science.

    I was looking at several instructions for ghee, and noticed that the Food Network instructions (and Alton Brown’s specifically) do not include skimming the frothy solids from the top of the simmering butter, but apparently just allow them all to sink to the bottom for cooking. Is there any real advantage to removing them?

  30. Rod Peel says

    Thank you Jessica,
    I cannot buy Ghee where I live (Bolivia) and also coming originally from a town near Birmingham (UK) the curry capital of the UK, I have used Ghee many times when cooking curries.
    I only made a small batch with around 200 gm of unsalted butter that my partner wanted to throw away because it has a slightly rancid smell. To my great surprise and delight the Ghee turned out perfectly with lovely nutty odours. I shall now make an additional batch from fresh unsalted butter.

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