How to make Clarified Butter

How to make Clarified Butter

I use clarified butter a lot in my Paleo cooking and baking and think it is a great ingredient to have on hand. But I know that it can cause some confusion and many people do have queries so I wanted to do this blog post to help clear up the position as well as give you some tips on how to successfully make it at home. Let’s start with the three most common questions that I get asked:

What is clarified butter? Butter is made up of three components; butterfat, water and milk solids. The process of clarifying the butter removes the milk solids and water leaving behind just the butterfat. This is what we know as clarified butter. It is as simple as that. You can buy it in the shops but many brands include non-Paleo friendly ingredients and organic brands tend to be very expensive. I therefore always advocate that you make it yourself.

Is it Paleo? As the milk solids have been removed it creates a Paleo friendly fat that can be used in cooking and baking recipes for a wide variety of Paleo dishes. If you are unsure as to what the position is with butter when following a Paleo lifestyle then take a look at my blog Can You Eat Butter on a Paleo Diet? for more information.

What is the difference between clarified butter and ghee? The answer is not much. Ghee is cooked for slightly longer to create a more caramelised flavour and is more golden in colour as a result; other than this they are essentially the same thing and can be used in the same way in recipes. There is no issue with using them interchangeably.

I make clarified butter at home simply because it is a slightly quicker process and I prefer the more subtle flavour. Although I will be concentrating on clarified butter in this article, the health benefits mentioned will also be equally as applicable to ghee.

Why use clarified butter? 

Once you make clarified butter and remove those milk solids the end product has a very high smoke point. You might be wondering what this is. In short, it is the temperature that an oil or fat can be heated to before it starts to smoke and burn. This is important to know as once it reaches this point the oil or fat will start to degrade and oxidation can occur. This is a process which can cause free radicals to develop and cause havoc in your body. To find out more about the importance of oxidation make sure you take a look at my blog on Choosing the Right Paleo Cooking Oil.

When you are cooking over a high heat (think roasting, sauteing etc) you are most likely going to be reaching temperatures in excess of 200C. The smoke point of clarified butter is 230C; making it higher than coconut oil, lard and duck fat and even commonly used non-Paleo friendly oils such as sunflower and vegetable. This makes it a great option for high heat cooking without the risk of damaging your health.

Clarified butter contains a balance of easy to digest fatty acids essential for healthy nerves and cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants and acts as an aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals from other foods.

It will keep for at least one month in the fridge, most likely longer. You can also store at room temperature (but make sure it is kept in a dry place away from direct sunlight) but I prefer to keep mine in the fridge as it is easier to monitor.

Just to note that you will lose about 25% of the original weight of the butter during the clarifying process. On this basis, one block of butter weighing 250g will yield about 185g finished product.


How to make clarified butter

How to make clarified butter

Heat the butter in a pan over a low to medium heat. You will see that once the butter has been bubbling for a while that a white milky foam starts to appear on the surface; this is the whey protein. Keep going until there is no more foam rising to the surface and the butter has stopped bubbling and spluttering. This is a sign that the water content has evaporated. Skim the foam from the top and discard.

Once you have skimmed the foam you will see that milk solids will have started to form at the bottom of the pan forming a milky sediment and it is this which you are going to separate.

To do this line a sieve with gauze or cheesecloth (you could use kitchen towel or a j-cloth if needed) and place over whatever container you wish to store the clarified butter in. You could use a jar, bowl or tupperware; whatever works for you. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Carefully pour the butter mixture through the lined sieve. The clarified butter will collect in the container and the milk solids will be left behind in the sieve; these can be discarded. You will see from the colour why clarified butter is often referred to as “liquid gold”.

You can either place the clarified butter into the fridge or you can leave it to set at room temperature.


What would you need to do to make ghee? 

If you wanting to make ghee, then once you had skimmed the foam from the top you would leave the butter to cook for longer until you can see the milk solids start to caramalise at the bottom of the pan.

This would take another 10-15 minutes over a low to medium heat. You would then carry out the same sieving process to obtain the ghee. It is as simple as that.

How to make Ghee

Preparation Time: 

Cooking Time: 

Total Time: 

Servings: approx 185 grams

Clarified butter is perfect for Paleo cooking and is really easy to make at home. Plus by making it yourself you avoid all the chemicals that are commonly used in commercial versions.
  • 250g grass-fed butter
  1. Slowly heat the butter in a saucepan over a low to medium heat.
  2. Once melted leave the butter to heat and you will find that it starts to bubble and splutter. This is normal.
  3. You will see a white foam starting to form on the surface of the butter. Once the foam has stopped rising to the surface you can skim and discard.
  4. You will see a clear yellow liquid underneath with the milk solids collecting underneath on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Once the butter has stopped spluttering and the bubbles are much smaller you can remove the pan from the heat. Make sure that you remove before the milk solids have started to colour.
  6. Set the pan on one side and allow the butter to cool for a few minutes.
  7. Whilst the butter is cooling line a metal sieve with cheesecloth or gauze.
  8. Carefully pour the butter mixture through the sieve and discard the milk solids that are left behind.
  9. Place into the fridge to set; normally this will take a few hours or leave at room temperature away from direct sunlight. This will take several hours.
  10. Keep in the fridge and use for cooking and baking (and spreading) as you would butter.
* You will use about 25% in volume once the butter has been clarified so bear this in mind when you are working out what quantity you need to make.

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