Discover how to make Vegan Brown Butter in less than 10 minutes! It has a deep, nutty, toasty aroma and flavor and can be used as a sauce or as an ingredient in countless sweet and savoury recipes. Get all of my tips and tricks in this step-by-step tutorial for browning vegan butter!
Browned butter makes everything better and with my step-by-step tutorial, you'll learn how to make it quickly and easily with vegan butter!
In about five minutes, you can turn your regular store bought or homemade vegan butter into amazing toasty, nutty, vegan brown butter that can add delicious complex flavour to endless recipe such as baked goods, desserts, sauces, savoury dishes and more.
I recommend watching my video fully before making this recipe so that you can see how the butter changes as it browns and gauge when it's ready. (Note that my video will not be visible if you have an ad blocker turned on).
What is Brown Butter?
Brown butter (also known as buerre noisette) is simply butter cooked in a skillet until the milk solids brown. The literal translation of buerre noisette is hazelnut butter. Browning butter gives it a toasted, nutty, deep flavour and colour.
Can You Brown Vegan Butter?
The browning of regular dairy butter is the result of the milk proteins and sugars going through the Maillard reaction when heated. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning.
The trouble is that vegan butter does not contain milk solids and also most do not contain any significant protein. This means that straight from the container, the majority of vegan butters will not brown like non-vegan butter.
However, I have an easy solution which makes regular grocery store vegan butter go through the Maillard reaction when heated, just like non-vegan butter. This means that vegans can make amazing dairy-free brown butter to add to their favourite recipes! All you need to do to get your vegan butter to brown effectively is to add one common vegan staple ingredient.
Here is what you will be needing to make vegan brown butter:
To make vegan butter go through the Maillard reaction and brown properly, we need to introduce both protein and natural sugar. Natural nut butter contains both of those and is the answer to our prayers. It makes the butter brown and adds incredible savoury, nutty flavour.
A few ingredient notes:
- Vegan butter - This recipe has been tested with most common brands of dairy-free butter available at my local grocery store including Earth Balance and Becel (known as Flora in the UK).
- Nut butter - Either cashew or almond butter. I recommend cashew butter if you can because its lighter in colour and easier to tell when it has browned sufficiently. The nut butter used needs to be natural with no additives (see my important note below). Use sunflower seed butter if you need your brown butter to be nut-free.
Important note - For this recipe it is important to use natural nut butter with no additives. Nuts (or seeds if you're using sunflower seed butter) or nuts and salt. It should not contain sugar or any other ingredients, so be sure to check when shopping. It's usually pretty easy to find in most grocery stores.
How to Make Vegan Brown Butter
Browning vegan butter is a really simple process that should take no more than 10 minutes. However you need to keep your eyes on it at all times. Avoid distractions and keep it moving with a whisk or spoon so it browns evenly. Remember that butter browns immediately before it burns so it's important to catch it at the right moment, before that happens.
Success tip - Use a wide, shallow, light coloured pan. With a dark pan it is impossible to see when the butter is ready.
Here's how it's done:
- Add the vegan butter and nut butter to a wide, shallow, light coloured pan.
- Over low heat, melt the vegan butter, then turn off the heat and smush and whisk in the nut butter so it is completely incorporated into the melted butter.
- Put it over medium heat and stir or whisk constantly. Once it starts getting hot it will foam as the water in the butter begins to evaporate. Then it will turn from a milky thick yellow, to golden and clear, almost like clarified butter but with some solids in it. Keep whisking!
- You will notice it deepen in colour. It can be a little hard to see because of the foam over it, but keep going until the solids toast in the butter and turn a deep, golden amber colour. It will smell intensely buttery, toaty, nutty, and rich. The longer you keep it cooking the deeper the flavour will get, but beware that it can go from golden to burned and black extremely quickly so it's best to er on the side of caution and not risk taking it too far. When it's done remove from the heat and carefully pour the butter into a bowl.
Success tip - Keep in mind that when making brown butter, only the solids turn a dark golden brown. The butter itself does get a little bit darker, but not significantly so. When done, it should look clear and golden with the dark amber/golden bits in the bottom of the pan/bowl, or speckled throughout when stirred. It will have a deep, buttery, nutty aroma.
How to Use Vegan Brown Butter
Vegan brown butter will elevate the taste of any dish it is added to. Use it on or in any recipe you’d use regular vegan butter, including for sautéing or searing, on toast, in vegan rice crispy treats, sweet potato biscuits, pancakes or waffles, drizzled on vegetables, popcorn, pasta and gnocchi, in mashed potatoes, in sauces, and when baking cookies, cakes, muffins, quick breads, cornbread or cinnamon rolls etc.
TIP - For herb infused vegan brown butter, add a handful of fresh sage leaves, rosemary sprigs, fresh thyme or oregano to the pan while you make the brown butter. Leave them in until the butter has cooled to room temperature, then pick them out.
- Hot/warm melted vegan brown butter can be used immediately after browning in warm/hot savoury dishes. I just love it used as a vegan brown butter sauce, tossed through pasta, vegan ravioli, or gnocchi, with garlic, fresh sage and vegan parmesan cheese for a super quick meal.
- Cooled but still liquid vegan brown butter can be used in any recipe that calls for cooled melted butter.
- Chilled vegan brown butter solidifies, but is usually softer than it was in its pre-browned state. Use it for any recipe you would use softened vegan butter. It's great in baked goods like cookies (brown butter cookies are so delicious!) and cakes and also in frosting.
Important tip - Because a lot of liquid evaporates from vegan butter during the browning process, when using it in a recipe always measure it after browning and not before.
Storing brown butter
Pour brown butter into a heat proof jar or other lidded container, allow to cool, then refrigerate. It should keep well for up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Freezing in ice cube trays enables you to take out a small amount at a time.
This will vary depending on how much butter you are browning, but it usually takes somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.
The brown specks in vegan brown butter are toasted nut solids. They are present in a similar way to the toasted milk solids in non-vegan browned butter. They are where where most of the flavour comes from so make sure you pour/scrape them out of the pan along with the liquid butter.
In most cases it's best to leave the brown flecks in the butter as they make the butter more flavourful. However, if you are using it for sautéing you need to strain it before using because the brown nutty flecks will burn in the pan. Sometimes it's nice to strain it for aesthetics too. Like if you were using it to make something like a vegan cream cheese frosting for instance.
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Vegan Brown ButterAuthor:
- ½ cup (110 grams) vegan butter , store bought or homemade
- 1 teaspoon natural cashew butter , or almond butter (with no additives). Use sunflower or pumpkin seed butter for a nut-free alternative.
- Before starting I recommend you watch my video in the post above so you can see the steps vegan butter goes through as it browns. It will make it much easier for you to judge its progress when you come to make it.
- Add the butter and nut butter to a light coloured, wide, heavy bottom pan. Melt really gently over a very low heat. As soon as the butter is melted, turn off the heat. Whisk the mixture really well, smushing the nut butter, until it is completely combined and incorporated into the butter and you can no longer see any lumps of it.
- Have a small spoon handy next to the stove.
- Return the pan to a medium heat, whisking constantly so the browning happens evenly.
- The butter will start off really yellow and thick, then it will start to foam, bubble and maybe sizzle a bit. Keep whisking. Quite quickly (within a few minutes) it will turn clear and golden, and you will see grainy solids at the bottom of the pan beginning to toast. You will also notice the buttery smell deepening.
- It can be a little hard to see under the foam, so use the spoon you have handy to push the foam aside and scoop out a little so you can take a closer look. The longer you brown it the deeper and more complex the flavour will be, until the point when it burns that is. It can go from beautiful golden amber to black and acrid very quickly. It's better to be cautious and have it slightly underdone than accidentally go too far.
- When the solids are a deep, toasty, nutty, golden amber brown, remove the pan from the heat and pour the brown butter along with the golden toasted solids straight into a heat proof container. Don't leave it in the pan because it will continue to cook and could burn even after the heat is turned off.
- Either use immediately or allow to cool then refrigerate.