Clarified Butter? Ghee Whiz!

Use clar­i­fied but­ter with pop­corn, crab legs, lob­ster, sautée­ing veggies—once you try it you’ll nev­er go back!

  • Ingre­di­ents
  • 1 lb. unsalt­ed butter
  • Tools
  • Large glass con­tain­er, like a quart Mason jar
  • Cheese­cloth
  • Rub­ber bands
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Probe ther­mome­ter

We all love but­ter; it’s deli­cious and one of most use­ful ingre­di­ents in the kitchen. You have to be care­ful not to burn it, though: The smoke point of but­ter is only 300° F. 

That’s because but­ter con­tains milk fat (aka but­ter­fat), water, pro­tein, and milk solids (most­ly the sug­ar lac­tose). Lac­tose is what burns if you over­heat your butter. 

Enter clar­i­fied but­ter: Remove the milk solids and water from but­ter, and its smoke point jumps up to 450° F.

Take it a step fur­ther and make ghee, and the smoke point climbs to 482° F.

What’s ghee? Ghee is clar­i­fied but­ter cooked a bit longer than clar­i­fied but­ter.

Why both­er with either one? Because clar­i­fied but­ter/ghee can be used in place of oth­er high-tem­per­a­ture oils, and the results will blow you away! Try using but­ter for:

  • Mak­ing popcorn
  • Dip­ping crab legs or lobster
  • Sauteeing at tem­per­a­tures that nor­mal­ly require canola or peanut oil
  • Sauces
  • Fry­ing hash browns or break­fast spuds
  • Roast­ing spuds or veg­eta­bles, or use in place of but­ter with steamed veggies
  • Use in place of but­ter for peo­ple mild­ly sen­si­tive to lactose

Once you try it you’ll nev­er go back!

Clarified Butter

Put the but­ter in the glass con­tain­er. Cov­er the mouth of the con­tain­er with cheese­cloth and use rub­ber bands to hold it in place; when it’s start­ing to boil, but­ter gen­er­ate big messy bub­bles that splat­ter water and oil all over the place.

Place the glass con­tain­er in a skil­let over medi­um heat. This is safer than putting the con­tain­er on the burn­er, espe­cial­ly if you have a gas stove­top— you won’t have to wor­ry about burn­ing the cheese­cloth or liq­uid but­ter drip­ping on the burner.

Once the but­ter is liq­ue­fied, decrease the heat to the low­est set­ting, then adjust to main­tain a low boil. The pro­tein and casein will foam on top; you can skim it off with a strain­er or fil­ter it out later.

In 30 to 45 min­utes, the bub­bling will slow to a stop as the water evap­o­rates. Remove the cheese­cloth and get your ther­mome­ter in the but­ter­fat; with the water gone the tem­per­a­ture will rise in a hurry. 

Turn off the heat as the tem­per­a­ture reach­es 260° F. The foam on top will start to brown and the but­ter­fat will be a clear gold­en color.

Line a mesh strain­er with four lay­ers of cheese­cloth and place it over a heat­proof con­tain­er. Slow­ly pour the clar­i­fied but­ter through the cheese­cloth. The cheese­cloth will fil­ter out the foam on top, but keep as much of milk solids in orig­i­nal con­tain­er as pos­si­ble; they can sneak through the cheesecloth.

Cool down, put into an air­tight con­tain­er and stash it in the fridge.

Con­grat­u­la­tions! You just made clar­i­fied but­ter.

You can store it in the fridge up to six months or freeze it up to a year.


To make ghee, just keep going when the tem­per­a­ture hits 260° F. Keep the clar­i­fied but­ter gen­tly sim­mer­ing until the milk solids on the bot­tom turn brown; the but­ter­fat’s col­or with shift from gold­en to a lighter brown, and the ghee will emit a rich, nut­ty smell. 

If you’re not sure whether it’s done, or you’re ner­vous about burn­ing it, buy a jar of ghee at the gro­cery store and use it as a ref­er­ence for ghee’s col­or and fragrance. 

At that point, fol­low the clar­i­fied but­ter recipe: Remove from heat and strain through cheese­cloth, then store in the fridge in an air­tight container.