How to brown butter, plus 5 great recipes

A buttery secret to their allure
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Known in French as beurre noisette, browned butter can add complexity and richness to both sweet and savory recipes. Drizzle it over sauteed vegetables or fish, or fold it into cake-batter fudge. Its rich nuttiness does wonders for mashed potatoes, and it’s the perfect finishing touch for sauces. You’ll also want to add it to sweet doughnuts or cake glaze. 

To brown butter, simply melt unsalted butter in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat, and cook until the water evaporates and the butter solids turn a rich golden-brown (they will sink to the bottom of the pan). Whisk or stir the butter frequently as it cooks so it browns evenly. Use the butter immediately, or cover and refrigerate it until you need it.

Pecan brown-butter bread

Browned butter and pecans make it extra rich.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

For this loaf, the butter is first browned, then chilled until solid, and incorporated just as standard cold butter would be in a baking recipe. As an added surprise, a layer of pecan streusel runs throughout the center of the loaf for a touch of sweetness and crunch.

Corn and brown butter bread pudding

Fall style note: Slip into savory
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Brown butter lends a subtle nuttiness to the bread pudding, flavored with sweet corn kernels, Gruyere cheese and fragrant notes from rosemary, thyme and sage. This is one dish you’ll want to make again and again.


Hazelnut brown butter torte with bittersweet chocolate

“I’ve been making this brown butter cake for a really long time,” says Karen Hatfield, pastry chef and co-owner of Sycamore Kitchen. “And I keep going back to it again and again. It’s super-versatile; you can make it individually as petits fours, in a cake pan, tart pan, mold, whatever. You can make the batter in advance. I’ve made it with pear and hazelnuts, roasted apples, figs.”

Seared salmon with cucumbers and brown butter

In this simple dish, seared salmon is served with lightly browned cucumber slices and a rich pan sauce of lightly seasoned brown butter and lemon juice. 

Bittersweet Treat’s brown butter cookies

A buttery secret to their allure
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

These cookies are crunchy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. And taking the extra step to brown the butter makes the cookies that much better. Make an extra batch because they’ll go quickly.

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