Ghee, Clarified Butter, and Regular Butter: What Are the Differences?

slab of butter on a white dish

From grocery store shelves to cooking shows, ghee, clarified butter, and regular butter have all become popular conversation points. While all three are derived from milk, they differ in several ways, including their composition, production processes, flavors, and culinary applications. Below are more details about how the three dairy products differ. 

What is Regular Butter?

While all three products come from milk, you have to begin with regular butter to get the other two. It is made by churning cream to solidify the fat and protein components. Butter is mainly obtained from cow’s milk, although it is also possible to get it from sheep and goats.  

Regular butter is used in most parts of the world as a spread and cooking fat. It has a high energy content, with 100 grams containing about 715 calories. While its protein content is substantially low, it has a high percentage of milk fat or butterfat (at least 80 percent). Butter also contains significant amounts of vitamin A and trace vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium levels.     

What is Clarified Butter? 

Clarified butter refers to regular butter but without water and milk solids. As explained above, the butterfat content in butter is at least 80 percent. Milk solids, or dairy, and water make up the rest of the content. When you sear your food over high heat, the dairy is responsible for the black spots that appear–because it burns. The water dilutes the butter flavor when you pan fry in butter, preventing things from going ultra crispy. 

The extra baggage is eliminated with clarified butter, so only plain butterfat is left. This can happen in several ways, the quickest being cooking butter over low heat until the water content evaporates and the milk solids detach. Then, the foam (which contains the milk solids) is skimmed off, and the butterfat is strained out. Any remaining water is left in the pan.   

What is Ghee? 

Ghee is a form of clarified butter that originated from India and the Middle East. It differs from clarified butter in that its preparation process goes further than just separating water and milk solids. The butter is left to cook for an extended period until all the milk solids have browned and sunk under the butter, and all the water has evaporated.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

The taste and aroma of ghee, clarified butter, and regular butter differ in the following ways: 

  • Ghee has a unique nutty, toasty, and caramel-like flavor and a delightful fragrance.
  • Clarified butter has a more prominent butter taste.
  • Butter has a classic creamy and rich flavor denoted by a milky aroma.

The Culinary Uses of Ghee, Clarified Butter, and Regular Butter 

While all three dairy products are used in cooking, ghee, and clarified butter are preferred, especially for international recipes. Clarified butter is a high temp hero since its smoke point is higher than that of regular butter. It does not burn quickly and gives the food a superb flavor. Therefore, it is a great choice for searing, roasting, and pan-frying or when you are looking for a pure butter flavor.  

Ghee’s nuttier flavor gives it an extra boost and makes Indian dishes seem more authentic. It can also deliver subtle hints of flavor in some dishes that clarified butter cannot. Most people also go for ghee over other cooking fats because it can cook at higher temperatures without burning and has a lengthy shelf life.  

Looking To Spice Things Up in Your Kitchen?

If you are familiar with Indian cuisine, then you know that flavor is one of the things it maximizes. You have to be armed with several unique ingredients and know how to use them well if you want to prepare an authentic Indian dish. 

Our grocery store in Naperville has a huge selection of Indian food products, including spices, meats, grains, and produce. Pass by today or contact us for more details.

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