If Your Browned Butter Always Burns, It Could Be The Pan

If you are burning your brown butter, you shouldn't fret too much. As anyone who has scrambled an egg or tried to make caramel knows, the most deceptively simple kitchen tasks are often the most frustrating. That's because when your ingredients are limited, making those simple things right often comes down to very specific techniques. You are trying to get the time and temperature and the motions of the pan just perfect, so your eggs turn out soft and creamy, or your caramel doesn't crystalize.

On the surface, browning butter could not be easier. In fact, it's probably one of the only things you can make that requires just one ingredient. You are simply putting butter over heat and cooking it until it turns brown. But as Kitchn reports, a couple different processes are at work: You are cooking off the excess water in the butter, and you are caramelizing the butter fat. That is why brown butter is both so intensely flavored, and has the nutty, toffee notes that make it so perfect for cookies and cakes. But the combination is also why it can be easy to burn your brown butter — and why your pan may be the culprit when you do.

Your thin pan could be burning your brown butter

Browning butter is about balancing temperature and time. You want your pan to be hot enough to evaporate the water in a reasonable amount of time, but not so hot that you burn it and end up with a harsh, acrid flavor instead of that indulgent sweetness. According to Serious Eats, the dimensions of your pan can make a big difference in how long your brown butter takes to make. You'll also benefit from using a material that adjusts to temperatures quickly, like stainless steel, because you may need to bump the temperature up or down on the fly if your butter is simmering too rapidly.

Both the size of the pan and the thickness of the material will matter. If the bottom of your pan is thinner, it will get hotter more quickly, and you risk burning your butter. A wider surface area will also increase the speed at which your butter cooks, and will shrink the window you have to take it off the heat when it hits the perfect amount of browning. 

All of these differences can be accounted for if you know the properties of your pan. Lower the heat for thinner, wider pans and turn it up a bit for thicker, smaller ones. After that, the only thing standing between you and some delicious brown butter brownies should be time.