What is Clarified Butter?


I’ve looked in several stores and I can’t find clarified butter… do they sell it? This recipe says “serve with clarified butter”… what is clarified butter anyway?

To answer your first question, yes stores and markets sell clarified butter. You’ll find it in most specialty stores, like Whole Foods or Gelson’s, and usually on the shelf, not in the refrigerated section like regular butter. But don’t let them give you ghee and tell you it is clarified butter… but I’ll explain that in a bit.

To answer your second question, clarified butter, also known as drawn butter, is unsalted butter that has had the milk solids and water removed from it… so all that is left is the golden yellow butter fat. Clarifying removes the milk solids, which can burn, and the water, which can spatter. I don’t know what you’re preparing, but clarified butter is great for cooking at high temperatures because it has a high smoke point. The downside is that it doesn’t have the rich flavor of butter because all the milk is gone, but it is still more buttery tasting than, say, olive oil, so you’re still good.

But now I have a question for you: why would you even buy clarified butter? If you are preparing a recipe that calls for clarified butter, you must have something going on in the kitchen… so why not make it yourself … it is not that difficult.

One pound of butter makes about 12 ounces of clarified butter, and it will keep in the refrigerator for 6 months. It is perfect for sautéing because food won’t burn or stick. I use it to make butter-based sauces like Hollandaise or Béarnaise and for finishing vegetables . Clarified butter also makes a fabulous dipping sauce for shellfish or fish.

Oh… and back to “ghee.” Technically, ghee is clarified butter… but the butter is cooked longer so the water evaporates and the milk solids are browned in the butterfat and then strained. The taste of ghee is different… it is kind of nutty with more depth. It is used in Indian cuisine, so you may have heard of it or tasted it and not even known what it was.

I hope this clarifies everything. Ahemmm…

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posted under Extra Helpings

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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com