How to Melt Butter

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Melted butter is a very useful ingredient when baking cookies, custards, or pancakes. You will find it in plenty of recipes, so you’ll need to know how to make it get those fluffy, sweet, flavorful desserts you’re dreaming of. So, how to melt butter? It can be done stovetop, in the oven, or even in the microwave. The classic way is to melt butter on the stove, in a heavy pan.

A stick of butter usually weighs a quarter of a pound, about half a cup or 4 ounces. If it’s easier for you, get a stick with the wrapping which shows tablespoon marks. There are about 8 tablespoons and 20 teaspoons in a stick.

8 steps for how to melt butter

1. Choose the best pan for the job

You need a pan with a heavy base because it usually distributes heat more evenly than the thin ones. This makes it easier for you not to burn the butter. So go for heavy pan, double boiler, or heavy saucepan.

2. Get the heat just right

You shouldn’t melt butter on high heat because it has a low smoke point and the milk solids separate and that way you can burn the butter instead of just melting it. Butter becomes liquid between approximately 82 degrees F and 97 degrees F. Choose low heat or medium-low heat for this task.

3. Cut the butter in pieces

It’s harder for the heat to reach the center of the butter if you only have one large chunk. So cut your desired butter quantity into small pieces or chunks. The more surface area you expose to the heat, the quicker and more evenly the butter will melt. There is no necessary right size for the pieces. Go with your gut.

4. Watch it!

Add the butter to the saucepan. While in the heat, don’t let butter out of your sight. That’s because it could very possibly burn sooner than you’d expect.

5. Spread it evenly

Use a spatula or a spoon to spread the butter over the bottom of a pan as it melts.

6. Remove it from the flame in due time

When it’s about three quarters melted, remove the butter and just stir it until it melts completely. If there are still some not melted lumps, put the pan back on heat for about 30 seconds.

7. Optional: Brown it! 

If you desire a nuttier, smokier flavor, or the recipe calls for browned butter, then keep heating it on the stove. The butter will foam, then form brown specks. When that happens, remove from heat and keep stirring the butter until it turns an amber brown color.

8. Pour it

After the butter is done, pour it into a room temperature dish and use it in your recipe!

This is where experience helps and practice, of course. Because it’s a very fine line between the buttery states: it takes very little time for butter to go from melted to browned to scorched. And when it’s scorched, it will change the nature of the recipe.


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