Ina Garten's Simple Method For Clarifying Butter

Rich, creamy, high-fat butter is beloved by both cooks and bakers alike, bringing its unique flavor and luxuriousness to so many dishes, whether it's used as a cooking fat, worked into desserts and pastries, or ends up on the top of a thick slice of bread or a perfectly seared steak (via A Family Feast). Available in lots of high-quality supermarket brands as well as reserve label butters that cash in as high as $50 per pound (via Saveur), this creamy dairy staple continues to soar in popularity over the past few years, as its once-maligned saturated fat content was proven to create no additional risk for heart disease back in 2014 (via Harvard Public Health). Since then, Americans have eaten more and more butter each year, reaching about 6.3 pounds per person in 2020, according to Statista.

If you, too, love butter, you might be familiar with cooking and baking with it in all sorts of ways. But how often do you choose clarified butter over the stick? Clarified butter is butter whose contents of water and milk solids have been removed, leaving only the pure cooking fat. Widely utilized across India, where it's known as ghee, clarified butter has a very high smoke point, making it a great oil for cooking, and can also be used as a dip for seafood such as crab and lobster, as the base for a classic Hollandaise sauce, or tossed with homemade popcorn (via Land O' Lakes).

Ina Garten has a shortcut for making clarified butter at home

In addition to the uses mentioned above, clarified butter is perfect for frying up pancakes. Anyone who's cooked pancakes in regular butter has watched as the milk solids build up on the skillet and start to burn. It's an issue Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten avoids by frying her pancakes in clarified butter: Both her savory fresh corn pancakes, and her Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

But Garten, who often makes use of a good shortcut in the kitchen, doesn't stand over a pot boiling, skimming, and straining butter, which is the conventional way to create clarified butter from a stick (via Serious Eats). Instead, she takes a quick and easy route, according to a clip from her show "Cook Like a Pro," on which she's seen making Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Garten explains that she simply places some butter in a glass measuring cup, microwaves it for 30 seconds, and allows the milk solids to fall to the bottom. Then, she pours off the golden pure fat at the top of the cup, without having to actually strain the milk solids out. Not only does this save time, it allows you to make smaller amounts of clarified butter at a time, as it's recommended to never clarify less than two sticks of butter at a time, lest the butter scorch. 

So the next time you're frying pancakes — or samosas or bora — head to your microwave, not your stovetop.