The Unexpected Ingredient That Will Elevate Brown Butter

Whether savory or sweet, any recipe that calls for butter can be easily elevated by cooking down the butter until it browns. It takes one extra step, but one makes all the difference. The reason the butter flavor intensifies through the cooking process, America's Test Kitchen explains, is because of a chemical reaction that occurs. This reaction, called the Maillard reaction, causes the water in the butter to evaporate, leaving behind only fat and milk solids. The milk solids are made up of sugar and amino acids, and when heated, they develop new flavor compounds — the ones responsible for brown butter's nutty, rich taste.

You'd think that the more you toast browned butter, the more flavorful it would become, but the opposite is true. If butter is left on the heat too long, the milk solids will burn and become bitter, Sally's Baking Recipes points out. So instead of trying to over-brown your butter with the risk of it burning, add this one ingredient for that extra boost of flavor.

Brown your butter with powdered milk

Powdered milk is most well-known for being a shelf-stable version of the dairy product, but it also has the ability to add flavor in a way regular milk does not. For that exact reason, celebrity chef Christina Tosi told Epicurious she considers it her "secret weapon ingredient" and mixes it into many of her desserts. "It just makes things taste better," she shared.

According to Bon Appétit, this works because powdered milk — at least the nonfat kind — is just milk solids. These are the very same milk solids that collect at the bottom of the pan and turn brown when you make browned butter. Therefore, if you add nonfat powdered milk to browned butter, you're giving it more of that toasted flavor that makes browned butter taste the way it does.

Keep in mind that the more powdered milk you add, the clumpier your browned butter will get, and, as Bon Appétit explains, you'll end up with a dry brown butter powder. Per Aeslin Bakes, if you want it to retain the original melted consistency, don't add any more than two extra tablespoons of powdered milk per stick of butter.