Butter Basics: How to Cook with Butter Without Burning It

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Butter is delicious, but it can be a pain to cook with. It’s hard to get the right temperature, and it can burn easily.

Butter is delicious, but it can be a pain to cook with. It’s hard to get the right temperature, and it can burn easily. But don’t worry, I have the perfect guide for you. I’ll show you how to cook with butter and get the best results every time.

It’s all about controlling the heat and using the right tools. So let’s get started!

Cooking with butter

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Butter Up Your Recipe: Choosing the Right Butter for Cooking

Using the right butter can make or break a recipe. Different types of butter have different fat contents, salt levels, and water content, all of which can affect the outcome of your dish. For example, using salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter can throw off the balance of flavors. Similarly, using a high-fat butter in a recipe that calls for a lower-fat butter can make your dish too rich and heavy.

Types of Butter

There are several types of butter available in the market, each with its own unique properties. Here are some of the most common types of butter and their uses:

  • Unsalted Butter: This is the most versatile type of butter and is used in most baking recipes. It has a pure buttery flavor and allows you to control the salt content of your dish.
  • Salted Butter: This type of butter has salt added to it and is best used for spreading on bread or toast. It can also be used in cooking, but you need to adjust the salt content of your recipe accordingly.
  • Clarified Butter: This is butter that has been melted and the milk solids removed. It has a higher smoke point than regular butter, which makes it ideal for frying and sautéing.
  • European Butter: This type of butter has a higher fat content than American butter and has a richer flavor. It is best used in recipes where the butter flavor is the star of the show, such as croissants or buttercream frosting.

How to Choose the Right Butter

When choosing the right butter for your recipe, consider the following:

  • Fat Content: Look for butter with the fat content specified in your recipe. If your recipe calls for a lower-fat butter, look for a brand that specifies a lower fat content.
  • Salt Content: If your recipe calls for unsalted butter, make sure to use unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter on hand, adjust the salt content of your recipe accordingly.
  • Flavor: Consider the flavor of the butter and how it will affect your dish. If your recipe calls for a buttery flavor, use unsalted butter. If your recipe calls for a richer flavor, use European butter.
  • Price: Higher quality butter can be more expensive, but it can also make a big difference in the outcome of your dish. Consider the importance of the dish and whether it’s worth splurging on high-quality butter.

Don’t Let the Heat Burn Your Butter

When cooking with butter, it’s important to keep an eye on the heat. Butter has a low smoke point, which means that it can burn quickly if the temperature is too high. This can result in a bitter taste and a dark color that can ruin the flavor and appearance of your dish. Additionally, overheating butter can cause the milk solids to burn and stick to the pan, making it difficult to clean.

How to control the heat when cooking with butter?

To prevent burning, start by melting the butter over low heat. This allows the butter to slowly melt and the milk solids to separate from the fat. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium and continue stirring the mixture. This will help distribute the heat evenly and prevent any hot spots from forming.

If you’re making a recipe that requires browning the butter, you’ll need to adjust the heat accordingly. Browned butter brings a nutty and sweet flavor to dishes, but it’s important to keep a close eye on the temperature. Start by melting the butter over medium heat and continue stirring until the milk solids start to turn brown. At this point, you can turn down the heat to low and continue stirring until the butter reaches the desired color and aroma.

What are the benefits of controlling the heat?

Controlling the heat when cooking with butter allows you to:

  • Prevent burning and bitter taste
  • Maintain the quality and flavor of the butter
  • Control the fat content of your dish
  • Cut down on cleaning time by preventing the milk solids from sticking to the pan

What to do if the butter starts to burn?

If you notice that the butter is starting to smoke or turn dark, it’s important to act quickly. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Remove the pan from the heat immediately
  • Pour the butter into a separate container, leaving the burnt bits behind
  • Consider cutting the burnt pieces off the original butter and continue the cooking process with the remaining solid butter
  • Add a bit of extra butter or oil to the pan to lower the temperature and prevent further burning
  • Test the temperature with a regular thermometer to ensure that it’s at the right point for the recipe

Browning Butter and Caramelizing Foods: Taking Your Cooking to the Next Level

Browning butter is an easy way to add a rich, nutty flavor to any dish. Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab a large pan and place it on medium heat.
  • Place the right amount of butter in the pan. For every 1/2 cup of butter, you’ll need a 10-inch pan.
  • Let the butter melt completely and begin to foam.
  • Stir the butter regularly with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Notice the smell. When the butter begins to smell slightly nutty and turns a light brown color, it’s ready.
  • Remove the pan from the heat immediately to avoid burning the butter.
  • Pour the browned butter into a bowl, scraping any brown bits from the pan.
  • Let the butter cool slightly before using it in your recipe.

Caramelizing Foods with Browned Butter

Caramelizing foods with browned butter is a simple way to create an excellent dish. Here’s how to do it:

  • Prep your ingredients. Shallots, fresh herbs, and sweet potatoes are great options.
  • Cut your ingredients into small, uniform pieces.
  • Place your pan on medium heat and add the browned butter.
  • Let the butter melt and begin to foam.
  • Add your ingredients to the pan and stir to coat them in the butter.
  • Stir the ingredients regularly to prevent burning.
  • As the food cooks, you’ll notice it begin to turn a golden brown color and smell sweet and nutty.
  • Continue cooking until the food is caramelized to your liking.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and serve your delicious dish.

Important Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Make sure to use the right amount of butter for your recipe. Too much butter can result in burnt solids.
  • Stir the butter regularly to prevent burning and ensure even browning.
  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the butter. Metal utensils can cause the butter to brown too quickly.
  • Store any leftover browned butter in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • When caramelizing foods, make sure to cut your ingredients into small, uniform pieces to ensure even cooking.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavor combinations.

Browning butter and caramelizing foods may take a bit of time and attention, but the quality of the final dish is well worth it. Give it a try and see how it can elevate your cooking to a whole new level.

Butter and Oil: A Match Made in Heat

When it comes to cooking with butter, there’s one thing to keep in mind: butter has a low smoke point. This means that it can easily burn when exposed to high heat. However, butter adds a delicious flavor to dishes that oil can’t quite match. So, what’s the solution? Mix butter and oil together! This combination allows you to increase the heat without sacrificing flavor.

Benefits of Mixing Butter and Oil

Mixing butter and oil has several benefits:

  • Increases the smoke point, allowing you to cook at higher temperatures
  • Provides the flavor of butter without burning it
  • Creates a rich, flavorful sauce when used to deglaze a pan
  • Helps prevent sticking when cooking delicate foods

So, the next time you’re cooking with butter, remember to mix it with oil to increase the heat and add flavor to your dishes. Happy cooking!

Butter in Cake: A Rich and Moist Delight

If you’re a fan of rich and moist cakes, then you need to try this butter cake recipe. I’ve tried hundreds of cake recipes, but this one is extremely simple and uses only a few ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk

Prep and Cook Time

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes


1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Stir in the vanilla extract.
6. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk.
7. Mix until just combined.
8. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch cake pan.
9. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
10. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting and Serving

This cake is perfect on its own, but if you want to add frosting, try a cream cheese or buttercream frosting. You can also add some blueberries to the batter for a fruity twist. This recipe makes 12 servings, so it’s perfect for a small gathering or a family dessert.

Related Recipes and Photos

  • If you want to try more cake recipes that use butter, check out Rasa Malaysia’s index of butter cake recipes.
  • For a twist on the classic pound cake, try Kristyn Kanell’s walnut marble cake.
  • Merkleymarch has a video on how to make a butter cake that transports you back to your grandma’s kitchen.

Calories and Nutrition

  • This recipe has approximately 400 calories per serving.
  • Butter is a key ingredient in this cake, so it’s important to select a high-quality butter. Look for butter that is made from grass-fed cows and has a high butterfat content for the best results. You can buy butter at your local grocery store or shop online and have it delivered to your doorstep.


So, there you have it- everything you need to know about cooking with butter. It’s not as hard as you might think, and the rewards are delicious! So, go ahead and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.