How to Make Ghee

This is how to make ghee. It's wonderful and simple! It's a process I enjoy, and it yields one of my favorite cooking mediums. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, ghee is an unsalted butter that has had the milk solids removed after separating from the butterfat, resulting in beautiful, golden, pure fat with an unusually high smoking point.

How to Make Ghee

I make homemade ghee from good butter every few weeks. Making ghee is a process I enjoy, and it yields a wonderful cooking mediums. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, ghee is an unsalted butter that has had the milk solids removed after separating from the butterfat, resulting in beautiful, golden, pure fat with an unusually high smoking point. In short, this post is all about how to make ghee. And, yes! You should absolutely do it.

This means ghee (and its cousin, clarified butter) is remarkably stable, even at higher temperatures. The process for making clarified butter is similar to that of making ghee, ghee is simply cooked longer and has more contact with the browning milk solids, in turn lending a different flavor profile. So(!), there you have a basic description, but ghee is so much more than this.

How to Make Ghee - Start with Good Butter

What is Ghee?

Ghee is an ingredient deeply revered in India, most often made from the milk of the sacred cow. There are few ingredients that have been as culturally significant for as long. Although, as I think about it, in the Arab world, there is smen, another ancient dairy-based fat made, traditionally, from the milk of sheep and/or goat. I encountered it in Morocco. Both butters are clarified, and both have been used in ceremonial, healing, and culinary ways for millennia. Smen is funky, technically rotten, and distinctive - accurately titled beurre ranci in French. It is sometimes buried for months to develop its prized flavor. I don't think there is a culture of celebrating rancid ghee in India (maybe someone can correct me?), but if your ghee does go rancid - which I have had happen on occasion when the kitchen is unusually warm, or if I wasn't quite careful enough straining solids - you can simply think of it as Indian smen? A distinctive finishing flavor, no question.Butter in a Saucepan

Use in Ayurveda

If you set a glowing jar of ghee next to a cube of shortening, you just know, one of these supports life and vitality, and the other doesn't. It's the sort of thing you can just sense. In India, Ayurvedic physicians know ghee to be the good stuff, the liquid gold. It is considered vital for health and well-being, and is used to balance and support the body from the inside and the outside - eyes, memory, strength. It's a fat that helps fat-soluble nutrients become available to the body. It is recommended for expectant mothers. And it is beautiful. Correspondingly, it can also be quite expensive to buy, particularly if it is from a good producer. The good news is, making it yourself is a simple, satisfying process.
Melted Butter in a Saucepan
Hot Ghee in a Saucepan

Tips to Cooking with Ghee

- Use less. If you've never cooked with ghee before, just go easy to start. I've found that I typically need less throughout the process compared with, say, olive oil.

- It loves a wok. Wok cooking or stir-fry is an exercise in high-temperature intensity. Which can be hard on oils, and you end up having the oils break down, and not in a good way. I don't like using highly refined oils, the ones that are highly-processed, even though they advertise high smoke points. So, ghee is a good option, as long as it works for the flavors you are cooking. I don't think it works alongside soy sauce, for example, but I'll often use my wok to knock out a quick vegetable stir-fry, that is more California in spirit - a little oil, salt, lemon zest, vegetables - and ghee works great. Another alternative is extra-virgin coconut oil. It likes the wok too.

- Some say the best ghee comes from homemade butter. Meaning, you first make butter from fresh cream, and then you set sights on turning that butter into delicious ghee. The extra step certainly turns a relatively easy endeavor into something more ambitious, but I thought I'd mention it for those of you who are up for a more extensive challenge. That doesn't phase you? There are also examples of ghee made from water buffalo milk, and sheep's milk. I'm not sure I could cite a goat's milk example, but I'm sure that exists as well. A cook I spoke with in Rajasthan told me ghee tastes different in India, in part, because they use butter that has been cultured before proceeding, also the diet of the livestock there varies, and in turn the milk reflects this. Cultured butter is relatively easy to come by, so you can experiment with cultured vs. uncultured if you like.

- Lastly, it's brilliant in place of butter drizzled over homemade popcorn.

Beautiful Ghee in a Jar

Other Uses for Ghee

Although I've made it a practice to prepare homemade ghee for some time now, I feel like there is so much I don't know about its culture, ceremonial use, historical relevance, or simply the way it has been used in daily life. I know it is used to treat infection, to anoint gods and idols, and to power lamps that are thought to ward off evil and negativity. I'm sure there is much insight you can share from your own lives and experiences, and I'd love to hear whatever you're compelled to share! -h

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How to Make Ghee

4 from 24 votes

Source the best butter you can here, preferably organic. Experiment between cultured and uncultured butter. Also! I love to save the milk solids, they're delicious! Particularly tossed with brown rice. Use immediately, or refrigerate.

  • 1 pound / 16 ounces / 450 g of the best quality, unsalted butter you can source
  1. To make ghee, gently melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. After melting, the butter will separate into three layers. This should only take a few minutes. Foam will appear on the top layer, the milk solids will migrate to the bottom of the pan, and clarified butter will float between the two. 

Heat and Simmer
  1. Let the butter come to a simmer and hold it here until the middle layer becomes fragrant, more golden than when you started, and clear - push the solids on top out of the way to have a peek. The milk solids at the bottom will begin to brown. At this point it is a matter of preference, you can let the solids lightly brown, or let things progress a bit further. 

Skim and Strain
  1. When the ghee is finished, skim absolutely all of the top layer of foam into a bowl with a spoon or strainer, turn off the heat, and allow things to settle for a minute or so. Next, carefully pour the golden central layer through a strainer, into a clean glass jar, leaving the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. 

Cool and Store
  1. If you were able to get all the solids out, and use clean and dry utensils in the jar, ghee will keep at room temperature for weeks. It can be used as a cooking oil, finishing element, and is also a traditional body moisturizer and massage medium :). Enjoy!

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
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Recipe Rating


Great post and ghee recipe. I use ghee frequently especially when cooking Indian dishes. There is some very good advice within the comments as well. Thank you.

shane @ the recipe journal

Thanks Heidi, for the usual informative post, beautifully photographed. I made ghee years ago as part of a communal Indian dinner. The recipe I found had one cook the ghee for ages, until it was way reduced and a rich, dark, nutty brown. Delicious and very shelf stable, but I'm going to be happy to give your version a try. Cheers!

Suz in SantaCruz

Bit annoyed with myself, just started making it then read it should be unsalted butter! Is this a disaster or can I just continue & produce a slightly different 'animal'

HS: Just go for it Sarah!


I have made ghee following this recipe and it came out great. Thenonly thing i didnt do is wait for the solids on the bottom to turn brown. Is it more delicious if we wait till they turn brown. Thanks


Hi Heidi : ) Ghee is used for internal oleation when preparing (purvakarma) for a traditional ayurvedic detoxification (panchakarma). It brings all of the ama to the GI tract so it can then be eliminated from the body. However, doing oleation without a thoughtful, proper, and traditional detoxification program can do more harm than good. It is akin to "waking a sleeping snake". best, libby

Libby Jennison

the milk solids are called "khoya" in hindi and are a base for sweets. you can also add it to meat or paneer dishes - adds some colour and riches. or simply add some sugar for a delicious fudgy treat. adding a bay leaf to the ghee adds some flavour. and yes i also dutifully save up all the cream left over from the day's milk, freeze it, and once i have enough make ghee!


Heidi, I'm so happy you shared your beautiful photos and more on the process of ghee making. I love the crackle too when I make ghee and I use some of the milk solids actually to butter toast with and mix into plain rice. Ghee plays such an important part in many Hindu rituals and my most favorite memories growing up are of smelling ghee and onions cooking on the stove. Pure heaven!


Oh my I really needed to read this post! I recently got a new healthy recipe book that only uses ghee to cook with but I could not find it anywhere in the supermarkets. Now I can make my own. Thanks so much for posting this!


I begin the process of making ghee slightly differently. I add about 3/4 of an inch of water to the pan, and begin the heating process, really, REALLY s-l-o-w-l-y. I melt all the butter making sure that no simmering or bubbling takes place, then, the moment all the butter is melted, I remove it from the heat, allow it to cool, and then place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, the butter has solidified on top of the water. I pierce a hole right where the butter meets the pan, and another hole directly opposite. Then, I pour all the water off; it comes out milky white and containing the stuff which makes the foam. I repeat the above process, until the water is clear, usually once or twice more, depending on the quality of the butter. Then, once the last bout of water has been poured off, I reheat the ghee, and continue as in the above recipe instructions. This process is more long-winded, but entails little effort, and the resulting butter is clearer and has fewer impurities although the milk solids still gather at the bottom.... Hope this helps!


O M GHEE! Ok, lame. But this is a great post! I use ghee all the time and wanted to make a post about it but I could never make the process look pretty and delicate in photos... You nailed it!

Renee H.

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