We’ve been hearing lots of folks ask us how to make ghee lately. And the answer, surprisingly, is as easy as melting butter and being patient.

Keeping butter over low heat for an extended amount of time causes the milk solids to separate out and sink to the bottom of the pan. The golden liquid that remains suspended is ghee. It’s as uncomplicated as that. Seriously.

Because ghee lacks milk solids, it has a higher smoke point than butter, which means it’s safe to use for stovetop cooking without as much risk of burning, even at relatively high temperatures.

Ghee can also be tolerated by some folks with mild lactose intolerance and is paleo-friendly. We’ve heard quite a lot of purported health benefits about it as well, although truth be told, we remain most astounded by its kitchen performance.–David Leite

A glass jar with melted clarified butter or ghee.

How To Make Ghee

5 from 1 vote
Ghee is much loved by those who use it and we think you'll adore it, too. Melting unsalted butter and removing the milk solids gives it a higher smoke point and more flavor.
David Leite
Servings24 tablespoons (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
Calories136 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 1 pound unsalted butter (we’re not butter snobs though you really want high quality here)


  • Place the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat and wait patiently until it melts and then separates into distinct layers. This is going to take a while. In time, you’ll observe at least two and probably three distinct layers: the milk solids that migrate to the bottom of the pan, the foam that rises to the surface, and the golden liquid that will float in between the two.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: You can skim the foam during the cooking time, or you can simply push it out of the way to have a peek at the color of the butter beneath and remove the pesky foam later.

  • Eventually, the butter will come to an ever-so-gentle simmer. You want to maintain this until what’s in between the foam and the milk solids turns a slightly darker shade than when you started and you can see through it to the milk solids at the bottom of the pan, which will begin to turn a light shade of brown. This could take as long as 25 minutes or so. At this point, you can stop things or you can let things progress a little longer for a more intense, nuttier taste.
  • Using a spoon or strainer, skim the foam from the surface of the ghee and dump it in a bowl. Turn off the heat and let things settle for a minute or so.
  • Carefully pour the ghee through a strainer into a clean glass jar, doing your best to leave the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. Let cool to room temperature. 
  • Transfer the solids to the bowl with any foam and reserve for another use. (Use the foam and solids as you would butter, spreading them on bread and so forth.)
  • The ghee will keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to several weeks and can be used in place of butter when cooking.


How To Make Clarified Butter Variation

Knowing how to make clarified butter is as easy as knowing how to make ghee. The difference between the techniques, explains cookbook author and blogger Heidi Swanson, is that ghee is cooked longer and, as a result of being in contact with the milk solids for more time as they warm, has a more intense flavor profile. To make clarified butter, simply follow the above ghee recipe but be certain to pull the pan from the heat before the milk solids begin to turn brown.
Near and Far Cookbook

Adapted From

Near & Far

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Serving: 1 tablespoonCalories: 136 kcalCarbohydrates: 0.01 gProtein: 0.2 gFat: 15 gSaturated Fat: 10 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 41 mgSodium: 2 mgPotassium: 5 mgSugar: 0.01 gVitamin A: 472 IUCalcium: 5 mgIron: 0.004 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Heidi Swanson. Photo © 2015 Heidi Swanson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’ve never actually made clarified butter before and this was a great tutorial. I had just two layers—a top layer of clear butterfat and bits of foam that would sort of bubble up from the bottom from time to time. I had a really hard time trying to pour off the clarified portion without getting any of the milk solids from the bottom. I used some on my pancakes this morning and it tasted like butter. I suppose I expected something different and exciting (maybe that’s due, in part, to the hype surrounding ghee as a superfood these days!). I have the solids in a separate dish and have been using them just as I would use butter on bread or my morning toast.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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