Learn how to clarify butter to remove the milk solids. Clarifying butter is SO easy & makes the very BEST butter for popcorn!
What Is Clarified Butter?
Clarified butter is simply butter that has been heated to remove the milk solids and some of the water. Also sometimes called drawn butter, clarifying butter leaves only pure butterfat behind. It sounds complicated, but really it’s super simple to make. And it’s very hard to screw up!
NOTE: I often get asked what the difference is between clarified butter and ghee. They are technically the same thing. So if you know how to make clarified butter, you already know how to make ghee. The difference is that it’s heated beyond the point of just separating the butterfat and milk solids.
Ghee is cooked to the browned butter stage where the milk solids are browned and sink to the bottom of the pan. Then you skim the bottom of the pan to remove the brown solids, and you’re left with a liquid butter that has a rich, nutty flavor.
Both can be used interchangeably in cooking, depending on whether you want the extra nutty taste in the recipe you’re making.
Best Butter For Popcorn
But when do you want to use clarified butter? Butter that’s been clarified is useful any time you want to sauté foods at a higher heat than regular butter normally allows. Since the milk solids are removed when you clarify butter, the remaining clear golden butterfat has a much higher smoking point.
I LOVE to use it when making scrambled eggs! They always turn out super creamy and delicious… However, my favorite use for it is when I make homemade butter popcorn. It’s absolutely the BEST popcorn butter!
Have you ever noticed your homemade popcorn has a gritty texture to it? It happens when the milk solids firm up as regular melted butter cools. Using clarified liquid butter eliminates this grainy coating! And because you’ve removed most of the water from the butter, your popcorn also stays nice and crispy.
How To Clarify Butter
You don’t really need a clarified butter recipe. It’s all in the method! And the method is as uncomplicated as they can get.
Start by heating two sticks of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over very low heat. Note that since you’re basically concentrating the butterfat, you’ll want to use the best quality of butter that you can.
Continue heating until the butter is melted and you see foam rising to the top. As the water in the butter evaporates, it may sputter and splatter a bit. This is totally normal, but be careful to avoid being burned.
Skim The Foam And Milk Solids With Cheesecloth
When there isn’t any more foam rising to the the top, turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner. Fold a piece of cheesecloth about four times, and us it to line a fine mesh strainer. Set the strainer over a bowl or measuring cup.
Pour the melted butter through the lined mesh strainer into your container. The milk solids will remain behind, and you’ll be left with pure liquid gold butterfat.
You can easily control the amount you make by changing the number of sticks of butter you use. You only need about 1/4 cup to make a batch of my homemade movie theater popcorn. This is about the amount you’d make by clarifying a single 1/2 cup stick of butter.
Storing Liquid Butter After Clarifying
Clarified liquid butter has a longer shelf life than regular butter. It will become semi-solid as it cools, making it easy to store. Use it right away, or it will actually keep at room temperature for around 6 months when stored in an airtight container.
You can also pour it into a clean jar and refrigerate it for up to one year. I have some on hand in my fridge at all times!
More Useful Kitchen Hacks
You might also enjoy these other easy and useful kitchen hacks:
- Homemade Popcorn In Microwave
- How To Freeze Spinach (The Easy Way!)
- How To Make Homemade Butter
- How To Cook Quinoa In Rice Cooker
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