Brown butter is one of the most versatile flavor-boosting ingredients around. Thankfully, it's easy-as-can-be to make. Starting with a regular block of butter, simmer off excess water, wait for the milk proteins to toast and brown, and you'll have a big batch of rich, nutty brown butter ready to cook with in just a few minutes.
While plain butter has a relatively neutral flavor, brown butter tastes much deeper and more complex. That makes it a great addition to everything from pasta sauces, risotto, and popcorn, to brownies, shortbread cookies, and fluffy cakes. These are our 19 favorite ways to use brown butter, and bring even more flavor to already delicious sweet and savory dishes.
Homemade ravioli stuffed with a funky and sweet mixture of butternut squash and blue cheese are great on their own, but a sauce of brown butter and frizzled sage takes this dish up a notch, offering the needed richness to cut through salty cheese and sweet squash.
Tamale pie is one of those all-in-one classic comfort foods that doesn't really need to be improved upon. Our recipe stays true to the dish's roots, while using an olive-packed vegetarian chili as the base of the dish. Browning butter for the cornbread crust gives the dish an additional nutty layer of flavor.
While Kenji is known for testing recipes and adjusting variables until a recipe is absolutely foolproof, he marked this recipe pretty-much-perfect-as-is. A thin wall of pasta holds in a core of creamy sheep's milk ricotta, drowned in a rich brown butter and sage sauce. It doesn't get much better.
Brown butter is a great complement to scallops, which are relatively mild on their own. Here, a brown butter and lemon sauce is spooned over a rich and creamy leek risotto and beautifully seared scallops.
To make this simple French-inspired dish, small new potatoes are gently cooked in plenty of brown butter. The tender potatoes are sprinkled with sea salt, finely chopped chives, and tangy crème fraîche, which cuts through the butter.
Part of what makes brown butter such a great ingredient is how much flavor it can contribute to a super-simple dish. Here it's paired with sautéed squash, sage, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a bit of cracked black pepper.
This cornbread is moist and tender, with the intensely corn-y flavor that a great cornbread must have. Brown butter incorporated into the batter adds just a little bit of depth and richness, making this just as good plain as it is with a bowl of chili.
Brown butter and rosemary add a savory note to these roasted sweet potatoes, so they balance between savory and sweet. The brown butter is enriched with reduced chicken stock, to give the simple dish an umami kick.
If there is a single food more satisfying than butter-drenched popcorn, it's brown butter-drenched popcorn. Rich brown butter and maple syrup are cooked into a quick caramel, which is used both to candy pecans for the topping and to coat the freshly popped kernels.
Whether you consider pancakes a sweet or savory dish is entirely dependent on how much maple syrup you douse them in. These ones feature toasted oats, brown butter, slightly tart buttermilk, and a texture so light you won't even realize you've already eaten six.
Since these waffles need an overnight rise, you can't exactly roll out of bed and start cooking, but you'll have these on your mind so often it's quite likely you'll have prepped them the night before. Since the batter comes together in five minutes, they're a low lift project to start on a late night. They cook up crisp on the outside, and fluffy to the center. The slow, overnight interaction of water and flour leaves them chewy, and the brown butter gives them a nuttiness perfectly balanced by maple syrup and whipped cream.
Browning butter and toasting sugar might take a little extra time, but the two flavor-enhancing ingredients transform a regular white cake into something extraordinary.
These brownies are made with dark chocolate, high-fat Dutch cocoa powder, vanilla, and, yes, brown butter. The darkness of the chocolate combines with the powerful cocoa powder to give the brownies rich, deep chocolate flavor, while the brown butter cuts through some of the bitterness of the chocolate.
Classic vanilla shortbread gets a boost of bold flavor from a combination of toasted sugar, malted milk powder, and brown butter—a powerful trio. The resulting cookie is deceptively simple, with the kind of nutty, caramelized flavor you'd expect from butterscotch candies.
Lacy ricotta cookies are as much about texture as they are about taste—though they show out on both fronts. The cookies are ever so slightly crisp around the edges, and chewy in the center. Brown butter worked into the batter contrasts the creamy, sweet ricotta with a little bit of caramelized nuttiness.
Brown butter features prominently in all of these recipes, but we aren't just throwing it around willy nilly. In this carrot cake, brown butter complements the earthiness of pecans, and complements the natural sweetness of carrots. Its toastiness also brings out the flavor of whole wheat flour, which gives the cake a fluffy and light consistency.
The dough for these rugelach contains cream cheese, which gives the pastry a tangy flavor. The baked rugelach are bronzed and—thanks to chilled cubes of brown butter—particularly flaky, too.
If we haven't yet successfully expressed how much we love brown butter, let this recipe act as proof: brown butter cake with brown butter frosting. The cake is dense and moist with an intense and satisfying brown butter flavor, and the glaze offers even more of that nutty richness.
We make a lot of cookies here at Serious Eats HQ, so trust us when we say these really are some of the best cookies around. They have crisp edges, big chunks of melty chocolate, and a rich, toffee-like flavor thanks to brown butter. These might not be the quickest chocolate chip cookies, but they're well worth your time.
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