How to Make Ghee (Clarified Butter)

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ghee 2Ghee is one of those fats I had never heard of a year ago. Would you know ghee if you bumped into some on the street?

Ghee, pronounced with a hard “g” like “go” and a long “e” like “see”, is also called clarified butter, and it’s pure butterfat with the milk solids, impurities and any water removed. It has a couple advantages over using butter:

  • Very high smoke point (400 degrees), so stable for high heat sautéing
  • More easily digested for people with milk sensitivities, since the milk proteins are all removed
  • Shelf stable and easy to use

Jenny at The Nourished Kitchen has a great rundown at Ghee: A Wholesome Fat if you’re interested in more information.

I completed my personal Monday Mission this week by making ghee for the first time. You can buy it, but it’s considerably more expensive than butter, from what I understand. I can’t say I’ve ever seen it being sold, but then again I’ve never looked. The process is fairly easy, although I made sure to complicate matters!

Most sources say to clarify at least a pound of butter at a time; I chose to use only two sticks in case I totally messed it up (see what sort of snafus I got myself into this week at my baking day post…P.S…the sourdough bread actually turned out delicious!) and wasted the butter. This is why I advocate a baby steps approach, my friends!

butterUltimately, I was successful in my little experiment and will work on using ghee over the coming week or two. I will make it again, unlike pie pumpkins! If you’d like to try home-clarification of your butter, read on…

How to Make Ghee

Ghee is made by simply melting a bunch of butter, allowing it to boil (very gently) for a while to cook off the water and separate the milk solids and impurities. At the end of the cooking time, you’ll have three layers of “stuff” in your pan:  milk solids at the bottom, impurities/foam at the top, and beautiful yellow ghee in the middle.

  1. Put your butter in the pan (Next time I will certainly clarify at least a pound of butter at a time. As long as you’re dirtying dishes, you might as well get a big result.)
  2. Melt over medium or so heat until liquid; continue to cook around medium-low. You need high enough heat to keep a little bubble action going, but not so high that you burn your milk solids straightaway.
    making ghee
  3. Cook for a spell, somewhere between 8 and 30 minutes, depending on your source.
    making ghee 2
  4. You know the ghee is done when three things happen:  (1) the foaming decreases, (2) the milk solids at the bottom begin to turn brown (note:  begin is the key word there) and (3) if you blow gently or push aside the foamy part, the middle layer is clear enough for you to see the bottom of the pan easily.
    Still cloudy in the middle...

    Still cloudy in the middle...

    Getting clear under the foam...

    Getting clear under the foam...

    Checking for brown on the bottom...nothing yet.

    Checking for brown on the bottom...nothing yet.

    Time to turn off the heat - I see brown stuff.

    Time to turn off the heat - I see brown stuff.

  5. This site told me to add 1/8 tsp of salt to help the solids move to the bottom better, but I forgot!
  6. Remove from heat and allow the finished ghee to cool slightly. Then you must begin the task of separating the three layers.
    making ghee8
  7. I chose to skim off the top layer most of the way with a spoon. It seemed the option with the least margin for error in my book! I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that I can eat this part on toast, but I’m not certain so it’s sitting on a plate waiting for me to figure that out! (Then again, if this is the impurities, maybe I don’t want to be eating it. Hoping someone can help me update this section…)

    The foam/impurities (?) from the top don't look too attractive.

    The foam/impurities (?) from the top don't look too attractive.

  8. You can just pour the ghee off and avoid the milk solids at the bottom, but I figured I wouldn’t be able to get that part right, so I chose to filter the finished ghee through a coffee filter in a colander. Make sure you choose a big enough bowl to catch anything coming through the colander (see below for sad details).
    Be careful not to overfill the filter; it doesn't drain very quickly.

    Be careful not to overfill the filter; it doesn't drain very quickly.

    The brown stuff mainly stays in the bottom of the pan...also not too attractive!

    The brown stuff mainly stays in the bottom of the pan...also not too attractive!

    making ghee11

  9. The brown stuff stays in the filter, and below you have gorgeous, golden ghee – see?
    making ghee12
  10. Store your ghee in something you can leave on your counter (covered) for easy access while you cook.  I chose a wide dish easy to scoop from so I don’t waste any ghee at the bottom.

How Much Ghee Comes from a Half-Pound of Butter?

I can’t tell you exactly how much ghee comes from two sticks of butter. I’m an impatient person. Waiting for the ghee to drain through the coffee filter was too much for me. I didn’t think it would happen, so I started trying to hurry along the process, and in so doing I spilled a bunch of my ghee on the counter. Sheesh.

making ghee spillDid I scoop it up with a spoon and put it back in my ghee-bowl? Uh, yeah. I’m too frugal to waste and too proud to lose out on the work I did. And crazy. Have I mentioned I’m slightly crazy? I read somewhere that you lose about 25% of the butter in the ghee-ing process, so that would leave ¾ cup of ghee from a cup of butter. That looks about right with what I have left!

I was telling my husband that my afternoon had been rocky because I lost some of my ghee. He looked at me funny and quipped, “Are you okay?”  He’s never heard of ghee before!

How to Use Ghee

Basically you can use ghee just like butter, but with less fear of smoking out in your pan and a richer flavor. Mainly for sautéing, you can also put it on your toast or add it to cooked dishes for flavor and mouthfeel.

Who’s trying ghee next week? (Just don’t lose yours.)

UPDATE:  I had issues with my ghee – see here for details.

By the way, I used these sites to help me figure out the system:

Lots more on fascinating (and fear-inducing) fats at the Fat Full Fall!

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35 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    I will have to try making some next week – butter has been on sale around here, so it’s worth a try!

    Speaking of sales – I don’t know if you have a King Soopers/City Market/Kroger around you – but they have the King Arthur’s Flour on sale for $2.99 for a 5# bag – normally just under $5 for said bag! I got a couple bags :-)
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Egg Nog =-.

  2. says

    Ghee that was an interesting post – I don’t think I have heard of Ghee either. Looks like a fun experiment – and a good way to turn the el cheepo butter into a better butter that isn’t bitter espescially if your name is betty and you live in a
    barn with benny the bull. (couldn’t help myself)

    Are there other health benefits of ghee other than more easy digestion?
    .-= Earth Friendly Goodies´s last blog ..Beware of Catnip Crazed Cat: An Herby AeroGrow Overthrow =-.

    • Katie says

      Definitely check out the Nourished Kitchen’s post which I linked to above. I think she mentions Vit A and D, but probably only if it’s grass-fed butter. Enjoy! Katie

  3. Marly says

    Thanks for this fun-reading post. I really did enjoy how you wrote it with both your successes and the not so successful moments. The accompanying pictures were very helpful.

    I had purchased my several pounds of butter a couple of weeks ago with the idea of making ghee soon. This has spurred me on to get started.

    I made ghee maybe a year ago with a little bit of butter, like you said, to try the waters first, and it was successful then. I put it in my refrigerator and promptly forgot about it, only to discover it a few weeks ago. And guess what: it is still good. I had learned that this is a good way to “store” butter in your food storage when you can get butter cheaply (if there’s such a thing).

    Anyway, thanks again for this tutorial. I really do appreciate it.

    Happy Gheeing everyone!

  4. says

    This is very clear! (no pun intended)

    I use clarified butter to make baklava. That way you don’t get burnt solids on top, but it browns evenly and beautifully.

    Indians use it to cook their onions — since most of their dishes start with browning a whole mess of onions, and they will burn before they brown into that nice caramelized mass if you don’t use ghee…

    Thanks for all the great pictures! I’m sending this to a friend whose child is lactose intolerant!

    I use the milk solids to fortify veggies and throw into my bread dough.
    .-= Leila´s last blog ..Make menus. Really. =-.

  5. says

    cool, i was so inspired by your post i did it myself! in fact, i may give homemade ghee as one of our homemade gifts this upcoming holiday season! might i also add it is sooo much cheaper then buying organic ghee at my local WFs or co-op, where it runs 10$ a lb!!! i got organic valley butter which was on sale and with a coupon cost 3.49/lb, and 1 lb made about 3/4lb ghee. awesome! thats like half the price of storebought ghee.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Coconut Cocoa Almond Macaroons =-.

  6. tina says

    I agree with Marly about the pictures. Those will be super helpful when I try my hand at ghee.

    I wonder if ghee and butter oil are similiar. I’m trying to get my husband to eat more butter but he’s still not convinced it’s good for him. If I could give him ghee and fermented cod liver oil together, he may take it.

  7. Rebeca says

    I just finished my first batch of ghee, your tutorial was awesome!!! I can’t wait to try it :) Also thanks for the link to the bulk coconut oil place. I am assuming since it is Colombus Foods that produces it that it is food grade? Thanks again!

  8. Shu says

    Thanks for your tips! There was a buy oen get one sale today on organic butter at the grvoery store today so i decided to make ghee(:

    I accidentlaly left it on the stove longer, so I only took it off when the milk solids at the bottom turned brown instead of was STARTING to turn brown.. nothing burnt though.. i think. think. hmm. Is that still safe?

    • Katie says

      I’m guessing you’re fine! The solids won’t stay in your ghee anyway, right?

      Good work!
      :) Katie

      • Shu says

        There are just some tiny white particles floating about.. I’m hoping that those aren’t the milk solids. Oh well, I can only hope for the best. Thank you so much for your help!!

        • Shu says

          Oh I just read your modly ghee entry and getting abit paranoid.. Can i tip it back it back into the pot to boil longer and separate again?

          Also, is ghee supposed to be solid?? Mine is liquid at room temp… But so is my coconut oil, now that it’s summer.

          • Katie says

            I only made it the one time, but my grandma’s ghee was solid this weekend at 80 degrees. ?? It takes some time to solidify, though. Maybe if you’re unsure about the filtering of your batch, just keep it in the fridge. It should still be good for high heat frying. Don’t be paranoid until you see the mold! 😉 Katie

  9. says

    Okay, I had no idea how easy ghee would be to make. And, now I’m recalling that I heard someone refer to it as clarified butter. So, that all now makes sense. Thanks for the tutorial!

  10. Merina says

    I recently read you can put the butter on low in the crockpot and walk away for 8 hours, even overnight. I did it, the top layer turned black and the solids on the bottom were a hearty brown, but I’m not keeping those anyway.
    Skim the top and strain. Super easy and the resulting ghee was awesome!

  11. says

    I love Merina’s comments about the crockpot – so interesting! I must try one day.

    Just a note about the difference between clarified butter and ghee. Technically, Ghee is one type of clarified butter. However the term “clarified butter” is used almost solely to denote an ingredient used in French cooking that is lightly clarified and not at all like ghee. I know that it is used so much across the internet, but I always wonder whether it is confusing for people. I have had friends who have made the French clarified butter and called it ghee.

    I wrote a bit about it here:

  12. says

    I’ve made it before, but was so scared to use it on my milk-allergic kids that I used it all up myself before I could try it with them:) I want to make some more and this time get my nerve up to try it on them!

  13. AK says

    I stumbled upon your blog yesterday and have been soaking in all the wealth of information here. Thanks for all the valuable info. I’m an Indian who’s currently living in the US and I was pleased to see your post about ghee. It is a part of our daily meals and nothing says comfort food more to us than a bowl of hot rice and yellow daal with a dollop of ghee.
    I know this post is old but, I wanted to comment on using the milk solids. I do what my mom does, after straining the ghee, I add about a cup or two of water back into the pan and bring it to a boil. Then I strain it and use this “ghee-water” in recipes instead of water. Makes delicious daals or curries or rice. This also helps loosen the milk solids which results in a super easy clean up.

  14. Angie says

    You aren’t kidding when you say it doesn’t drain very fast. I can see why you got impatient. Does anyone have any suggestions about straining to help move the process along any faster?

    • Lydia says

      I just made some ghee. My directions said to strain it through a metal strainer. That worked really well. It caught everything. I also have a question. I assumed the ghee would remain clear; but, it solidified overnight on the kitchen counter. It got up to 76 today and never liquified. Is that OK. Also, my directions said I could keep it in the pantry. Do I need to refrigerate?

      • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

        You’ve probably figured a lot of this out by now, sorry for the delay, but yes, it turns solid and doesn’t melt again, and no, if you strained it properly, you don’t have to refrig. :) Katie

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