The Reason You Should Avoid Browning Salted Butter

Recipes of all kinds are popping up that celebrate the delightful nutty richness of browned butter. Whether it's chocolate chip cookies or gnocchi served in a brown butter sauce, browned butter has the magic touch to elevate nearly any dish. 

Crafting browned butter isn't rocket science, but like any culinary endeavor, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. One significant misstep is opting for salted butter. The process of browning butter evaporates the water inside, which could be as much as 18% of the total weight of the butter, depending on the brand. As salted butter browns, the salt becomes more concentrated, resulting in an unpleasantly intense flavor.

Salted butter has roughly half a teaspoon of salt per stick, which could be way more than you'd want in your recipe. You could cut back on other salt sources, of course, but it's hard to judge just how much salt is actually in the butter or how the salt will affect the flavor of your finished dish. It's far more simple to brown unsalted butter instead.

Better brown butter

When you start your brown butter-making journey, always opt for unsalted butter. Unsalted butter tends to be a touch fresher compared to its salted counterpart, leading to a purer, cleaner-tasting browned butter. On the other hand, cultured butter undergoes a slight fermentation process akin to yogurt, which imparts a tangy flavor that might be unwelcome in your dish.

To ensure uniform melting, dice the unsalted butter into uniform pieces and use a pan with a light-colored interior. This allows you to monitor the changing color of the butter solids as they brown. As the butter melts, you'll observe the water steaming out, gradually transforming what's life to a golden yellow hue. Once all the water has evaporated, the butter will foam and bubble and the sediment at the pan's base will take on a light brown shade. At this point, take it off the heat to avoid burning those solids. Now, your brown butter is ready to use in banana bread or any other amazing recipes you have in mind!