How to Make Clarified Butter (Step-by-Step)

By Ghuman


Clarified butter is a type of butter that has been heated and strained to remove the milk solids and water. It has a higher smoke point than regular butter, making it ideal for sautéing and frying. It also has a longer shelf life than regular butter, so it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months. Making clarified butter is a simple process that requires just a few ingredients and a few steps. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of making clarified butter step-by-step.

How to Make Clarified Butter (Step-by-Step)

Clarified butter is a type of butter that has been heated and strained to remove the milk solids and water. It has a higher smoke point than regular butter, making it ideal for sautéing and frying. Clarified butter also has a longer shelf life than regular butter, so it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months. Here’s how to make clarified butter at home.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

You will need:

  • 1 pound of unsalted butter
  • A large saucepan
  • A fine-mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth
  • A heat-proof bowl or container

Step 2: Melt the Butter

Place the butter in the saucepan and melt it over low heat. Do not let the butter boil. Stir occasionally to ensure that the butter melts evenly.

Step 3: Strain the Butter

Once the butter is melted, strain it through the fine-mesh strainer into the heat-proof bowl or container. This will remove any large pieces of milk solids.

Step 4: Clarify the Butter

Line the strainer with the cheesecloth and strain the butter again. This will remove any remaining milk solids and water. Discard the cheesecloth and solids.

Step 5: Store the Clarified Butter

Allow the clarified butter to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Step 6: Enjoy!

Now that you have clarified butter, you can use it for sautéing, frying, and other cooking applications. Enjoy!

Learn how to make clarified butter with this simple step-by-step guide. Removing the water and milk solids increases the smoke point, making it better for cooking. Plus, the clarification process gives a longer shelf life in the refrigerator.

Homemade clarified butter recipe in a glass jar.
Table of Contents
  1. What is clarified butter?
  2. How to clarify butter
  3. Skim off the foam
  4. Pan selection
  5. Salted vs. unsalted butter
  6. Clarified butter vs. ghee
  7. Storing
  8. FAQ
  9. Clarified Butter Recipe

Do you want to learn the secret trick that some restaurant chefs use for sauteing and pan-frying foods? They use clarified butter! Using pure butterfat gives a higher smoke point, so you don’t have to worry about when the milk solids start to burn. You can cook vegetables, seafood, and meats with higher heat while adding a richer taste.

The clarification process is straightforward! Melt the butter and skim the white foam that rises to the surface. Let it cool to make the fat easily separate from any residual water. Make a big batch to store in the refrigerator to use as needed. It’s great for searing steaks, roasting, and making hollandaise sauce for eggs benedict.

A plate of butter slices being measured on a digital scale.
Step 1. Cut the butter

What is clarified butter?

Clarified butter is the translucent butterfat separated from the water and milk solids in regular types of butter. It’s liquid gold! By removing the milk solids that brown when cooked, like the proteins whey and casein, and a trace amount of lactose, there is no more risk of them adding a burnt flavor to your dishes.

Clarified butter also prolongs the shelf life since no water and proteins are available to break down the fat and cause lipid oxidation, causing faster rancidity.

How to clarify butter

The goal is to extract as much butterfat as possible from the solid butter. The remaining water and milk solids are distributed in the fat emulsion. To break the emulsion, gently melt the butter over low heat. High heat increases the chances of burning.

The heat will separate the components into their phases based on density. Typically the water and solid will be at the bottom of the pan, with the fat on the top. During the clarification process, you’ll see white foam caused by the water bubbling and evaporating at 212ºF (100ºC).

Slices of butter being melted in a stainless steel skillet.
Step 2. Melt the butter

Skim off the foam

The heat pushes the milk solids to the surface, mostly whey proteins, which is what you want to remove. Skim the visible foam and discard or add to dishes for extra flavor.

Once the bubbling stops, the fat will heat up and brown any remaining milk solids that sunk to the bottom of the pan. Stop before this happens to get a neutral-tasting clarified butter. Alternatively, you can continue to heat to make ghee with a nutty aroma and taste.

Pan selection

Use stainless steel or a light-colored pan to clarify the butter so you can see the color change of the milk solids on the bottom of the pan. Dark-colored cast iron or nonstick pans make it hard to see any color change in the butter, especially the browning of the milk solids.

Salted vs. unsalted butter

I use unsalted butter because I will season my dishes later. Salt also increases the oxidation of the fatty acids in the butter fat, which speeds up the breakdown when heated and causes eventual off flavors.

Clarified butter vs. ghee

Ghee is a type of clarified butter made using the same clarification process. However, the milk solids on the pan’s bottom are heated further until golden in color. The process is similar to creating browned butter, but the foamy milk solids on top and the ones lingering on the bottom of the pan are removed.

The browning adds a nutty, toffee-like flavor to the ghee. The butterfat is then strained through layers of cheesecloth to ensure that only the richly flavored butterfat remains. Ghee is a staple in Indian cuisine.

Pouring melted butter through a cheese cloth inside a metal strainer.
Step 4. Strain the liquid


Pure butterfat is more shelf stable than whole butter. It can be left tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 months or refrigerated for up to 1 year. I find clarified butter more spreadable, so I recommend refrigerating instead of leaving it out unless it’s a small amount you’ll use within the week. The refrigerator will ensure the freshest taste and reduce the chance of the milk fat becoming rancid in flavor.


What’s the difference between clarified butter and regular butter?

Clarified butter is made from solidified regular butter that has been melted to separate the fat from the water and milk solids. Clarified butter is just pure butterfat. It’s also called drawn butter.

Is clarified butter the same as ghee?

Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It has a more nutty flavor because the milk solids are browned before it’s strained out from the pure butterfat.

Is clarified butter healthier than regular butter?

Both contain a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. It also contains fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K12. Clarified butter is all butterfat, with the water, proteins, lactose, and any other milk solids removed. This makes for a better keto, paleo, and whole-30-friendly option.

Liquid clarified butter in a glass jar ready to be transferred to the refrigerator to harden.
Step 5. Ready to refrigerate

Why does the smoke point increase when butter is clarified?

Butter is a water-in-oil emulsion composed of at least 80% butterfat. The remaining is about 16 to 17% water, 1 to 2% milk proteins, carbohydrates, and a small number of vitamins and minerals. The milk solids will start to brown and burn, resulting in a lower smoke point between 300 to 350ºF (149 to 177ºC). Clarified butter increases the smoke point to 450ºF (232ºC), making it much more versatile for cooking.

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  • Cut Butter – Slice the butter into 1-inch thick pieces.

  • Melt Butter – Place sliced butter in a single layer in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium, and allow the butter to melt.

  • Remove Foam – Once the butter has melted, reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer the butter for about 10 to 15 minutes, do not go above 230ºF (110ºC), or the milk solids will start to brown, reduce heat if needed. During this time, use a slotted spoon to skim off the white frothy milk solids and discard or save them for other recipes. This process can be done as soon as you see the solids rising to the top. Once the surface solids are removed, only yellow butterfat and white milk solids that have sunk to the bottom will remain. If desired, see notes for making ghee.
  • Strain – Set a fine-mesh strainer over a heat-proof bowl or measuring cup—Line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth that hangs over the edges. Carefully pour the liquid through the lined sieve into the measuring cup. Any solids should collect in the cheesecloth.

  • Store – Transfer the clarified butter to a clean glass jar with a lid and store for up to 1 year in the refrigerator.

  • Recipe Yield: 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces)
  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon (15g)
  • To Make Ghee: Once the foam is removed, continue to simmer the clarified butter until milk solids on the bottom are light amber in color, butterfat is a deep yellow color, and ghee smells nutty. Time will vary depending on your stove. Turn off heat, remove from the stove, and slightly cool for 5 minutes, then strain. See ghee step-by-step instructions. 

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Nutrition Facts

Clarified Butter

Amount Per Serving

Calories 102
Calories from Fat 99

% Daily Value*

Fat 11g17%

Saturated Fat 7g35%

Trans Fat 0.5g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g

Monounsaturated Fat 3g

Cholesterol 30mg10%

Sodium 2mg0%

Potassium 3mg0%

Carbohydrates 0.01g0%

Sugar 0.01g0%

Protein 0.1g0%

Vitamin A 354IU7%

Calcium 3mg0%

Iron 0.003mg0%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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