We’re guessing you’re all familiar with butter. It’s a cooking fat. Duh. But you may be less familiar with GHEE, which is our favorite cooking fat to use (in most cases). We’re talking about Ghee vs. Butter: Which is Better? so you can understand which to use in general and why we used ghee to cook our Avocado Chicken Taquitos recently.
When it comes to Ghee vs. Butter: Which is Better?, a good starting point is knowing that ghee comes from butter, even though it’s not the same thing.
butter and its byproducts
Butter itself is churned cream. By churning cream, you remove extra moisture, resulting in a nice, solid cooking fat. But you can make all kinds of byproducts from butter by heating it! What’s this have to do with Ghee vs. Butter: Which is Better? Well, you’ll learn not only how to make ghee, but what else you can make from butter!
When you cook butter over medium heat, it separates into three layers: milk solids float to the top, water settles to the bottom, and milk fats hang out in the middle. From here, you can go a few different directions.
If you continue to cook it, your water will boil off. The milk solids floating on top will keep cooking and then fall to the bottom, where they’ll brown after a while and develop flavor. That extra time at the bottom of the pot makes brown butter by developing a nutty flavor and aroma. YUM.
Let’s go back to our three original layers: milk solids on top, water on bottom, and milk fats in the middle. To make clarified butter, you skim the milk solids from the top before they settle and let the water cook out from the bottom. The remaining milk fats in the middle are your clarified butter.
Ghee lies right in between the processes for making brown butter and clarified butter. With ghee, you’ll cook it long enough that the water cooks off and the milk solids settle to the bottom. But rather than browning them, you’ll allow those milk solids to cook over low heat and strain the milk fats off from there. Now you’ve got ghee!
ghee: why we love it, when to use it
Let us count the ways.
- We love the texture. It’s soft and spreadable at room temperature (a bit moreso than butter), but you can keep it solid in the fridge if you’d prefer.
- Ghee is GREAT if you’re lactose sensitive. The lactose is essentially cooked out during the process of making ghee.
- High smoke point! When the extras are removed from butter, you’re left with pure fat. Ghee has a smoke point of 450 degrees, which makes it perfect for high heat cooking and deep frying. Butter hits its smoke point around 350 degrees, when the milk solids begin to cook and burn. That said, ghee is not for browning. Stick to frying (like we did with our Avocado Chicken Taquitos) and high heat cooking with ghee as it maintains its structure at high temperatures.
Ghee is preferable to both cooking oil and butter for high heat cooking because of that 450 degree smoke point. When you heat anything, it cooks out the good-for-you stuff. This happens at faster and slower rates depending on what you use. Vegetable oil is more volatile than ghee and breaks down pretty quickly, while ghee remains stable as the heat picks up.
All that said, there’s still a time and place for whole butter! Ghee has a very pure butter flavor—which is strong and delicious—but doesn’t have that creamy taste that whole butter does. Butter’s creamier texture and flavor is a really nice choice for baked goods. Butter also gives the necessary texture for certain doughs and things like pie crust because of its added moisture. Also, unlike ghee, you can brown with butter when you’re going for a nutty aroma and taste.
ghee vs. butter: so which is really better?
The honest answer is, it depends. If you have a lactose issue, ghee is definitely for you. We use ghee for most of our cooking in the kitchen because it’s a really well-rounded cooking fat and its high smoke point makes it super versatile. We think of ghee as a few steps ahead of butter…I think you can figure out our true vote.
Practice using ghee in our Fudgy Grain Free Ghee Brownies and Avocado Chicken Taquitos. If you’re trying our taquitos, be sure to view The Best Grain Free Tortillas and What is Cassava? to have all your bases covered.