Ghee is clarified butter, but not every clarified butter you find in the market is Ghee; let me tell you why. Clarified butter is butter cooked on medium heat until the milk solids separate from the fat and take less time to cook, while to get Ghee, you have to cook the butter for a long time until the milk solids turn brown and sink at the bottom of the pan. When in a liquid form, it's more transparent than regular clarified butter and has a golden color.
Good news to those who are lactose intolerant, it has a lesser amount of lactose than what is found in butter! The video in the recipe card shows you exactly how simple it is to make it at home, plus many tips in this post to avoid making mistakes.
What is the difference between Ghee and butter?
You can use it in the same dishes that have butter. Butter has a high amount of fat plus water and milk solids. Both taste amazing in cooking, but Ghee has a more intense flavor than butter; it also has a high smoking point of 250C - 482F; this means you can use it for deep fry and it will maintain it’s flavor while butter burns faster because of the presence of milk solids.
As I have mentioned earlier, it has less lactose than butter. Still, there is another good side of it over butter, you can store unopened jar at room temperature for up to 9 months after opening the jar; it is good for up to 3 months, and for a longer time of storage, refrigerate it, and it will last for 1 year.
The only downside I see in Ghee compared to butter is that it has higher calories. One tablespoon of butter has 100 calories, while one tablespoon of Ghee has 120 calories.
Ingredients you need
Make it at home is much cheaper than buying it from the store. You will only need butter. It’s best to use unsalted butter since cooking the butter will eliminate the water and the milk solids will be discarded, hence, it will be salty when you use salted butter.
How to make Ghee?
Use unsalted butter, salted butter will result in salty Ghee, and it will interfere in seasoning the food you are cooking.
In a pan, add the unsalted butter and let it melt on medium to medium low heat.
Thick white bubbles will appear when the melted butter simmers. To ensure that the milk solids do not burn at the bottom of the pan, push the foams aside regularly.
The foam’s color will get paler. When the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan, and its color turns brown, then it's ready.
Strain it and pour it in a glass jar. When it cools, close the jar with an airtight lid. (Read the recipe card below for more detailed steps and notes).
How to store it?
Use a clean and dry glass jar with an airtight lid. When you pour the Ghee in the jar, make sure to close it only when it has cooled. If you close the lid while the Ghee is hot, the steam will spoil it quickly. To maintain the freshness of the Ghee, keep it away from water and moisture.
Make sure to use a clean and dry spoon to spoon out the Ghee. The last thing you want is to contaminate it after all the hard work you have put in!
On the kitchen shelf, an unopened jar of Ghee will last up to 9 months. Once open, it is good for 3 months.
Place the Ghee in the fridge to store it for up to 12 months.
To freeze, pour it in a plastic container that’s freezer friendly and place in the freezer.
How do I know when it is gone bad?
To know if the Ghee is still good to use, check its color. If the color is white or much lighter than its original color, get rid of it. If the smell changes or it tastes sour, it’s not good to consume.
How to use Ghee?
You can use Ghee the same way you use butter except in some cookie recipes. It is perfect when searing steaks; it won’t burn like butter and will maintain the same unique flavor. You can also add a tablespoon of Ghee at the end of your cooking to enhance your dish's flavor.
Because of its high smoking point, you can also use it in deep frying, but I wouldn’t suggest that. Ghee has more fat than butter, so it’s best to use oil in deep frying, it is cheaper.
Shall I use high quality butter?
You can, but you don’t have to! Ghee tastes a little different from butter, so it will taste different from the butter no matter what brand you use. I would recommend that you use high quality butter in making cookies and cakes.
Tips to make a good tasting Ghee
- Use a heavy bottom pan; it will prevent the milk solids from burning quickly and will spread the heat evenly.
- Use unsalted butter instead of salted.
- Be patient when making Ghee, it will take a little time, but if you increase the heat or leave the pan unsupervised, it will burn.
- Keep the heat on medium or medium low.
- If possible, use a pan with a white or light color bottom; this will help you see the milk solids when it turns brown. Cooking the Ghee too long leads to burnt milk solids, which could ruin its flavor and color.
- While cooking the Ghee, you have to pull the foam to the side to check if the milk solids are browning at the bottom of the pan, don’t stir the Ghee, and don’t let the spatula touch the bottom of the pan.
- This recipe is for 1 cup of Ghee, it’s a good start to practice making Ghee at home.
You can use Ghee in these recipes
Ghee Clarified Butter
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- In a saucepan, preferably a pan with a heavy bottom, add the butter and let it melt entirely on medium heat. Let it come to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low.
- A thick white foam will form at the top but will reduce to small transparent bubbles. Occasionally pull the foam to the side of the pan to make sure that milk solids at the bottom of the pan are not burning.
- When the melted butter turns into a transparent, golden color, and the milk solids are now brown and have sunk to the bottom of the pan, then your Ghee is ready. Turn off the heat.
- Some foams might still float over the Ghee, but it will disappear gradually when the Ghee cools. Or you can remove it with a wooden spoon.
- Wash and dry a heatproof glass jar with an airtight lid.
- Place a strainer over the opening of the heatproof jar. If the Ghee is still hot, then use a ladle to pour the Ghee through the strainer. Always be careful when you pour hot liquids.
- Let the Ghee cool completely and then close the lid. Never close the lid while the Ghee is warm or hot; the steam trapped in the jar will make the Ghee turn rancid in a short time.
- Keep the Ghee over the counter for up to 3 months after opening the jar or store it in the fridge for up to a year.
- I have written in detail all the tips that will guide you to make a fail proof Ghee. Please read those tips under (Tips to make good tasting Ghee) in the post above.
This post was originally published in December 2016. It is now updated with a video and a more detailed recipe.