activity

Lots of foods, from steak to chicken to pizza dough, taste better when they’re golden brown. Is the same true for butter? Put your senses to the test and see if cooking butter until it turns brown changes its flavor.

safety
  • Uses the stovetop
difficulty
  • Intermediate
time
  • 45 minutes

hey curious cook—

Have you heard about our Young Chefs’ Club? Members get a themed (and kid-tested) box delivered each month!

Prepare Ingredients

8 tablespoons
unsalted butter, cut into eight 1-tablespoon pieces
1 slice
white sandwich bread, cut in half, per taster

Gather Equipment

10-inch skillet
Rubber spatula
2
small bowls
1
blindfold per taster
1
plate per taster
1
glass of water per taster
1
 

Make a prediction: Do you think melted ­butter and butter that’s cooked until it turns golden brown (called browned butter) will taste the same or different? Why do you think so?

 
2
 
4 tablespoons
unsalted butter, cut into four 1-tablespoon pieces

In 10-inch skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, reduce heat to medium-low.

 
3
 

Cook, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pan with rubber spatula, until butter solids turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, 6 to 8 minutes (see photo, below). Turn off heat and carefully slide skillet to cool burner. Let skillet cool for 1 to 2 minutes.

Your browned butter is ready when the butter solids (the specks at the bottom of the pan) turn golden brown and the butter smells nutty. Keep a careful eye on your skillet—butter can go from browned to burnt very quickly!

 
4
 

Carefully pour browned butter into 1 small bowl (ask an adult for help), making sure to scrape out butter solids with rubber spatula. Set bowl aside. Wash and dry skillet and spatula.

 
5
 
4 tablespoons
unsalted butter, cut into four 1-tablespoon pieces

In clean 10-inch skillet, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, turn off heat and carefully slide skillet to cool burner. Let skillet cool for 1 to 2 minutes.

 
6
 

Carefully pour melted butter into second small bowl (ask an adult for help).

 
7
 

Choose 1 person to give out the samples for tasting (this is a good job for an adult). Everyone else will be tasters. Give each taster a blindfold, a plate, and a glass of water.

 
8
 

Explain that tasters are going to taste 2 samples of bread with melted butter. Their job is to focus on the butter and to notice if the 2 samples smell and taste the same or different. Tasters should keep their observations to themselves until everyone has finished tasting both samples.

 
9
 
1 slice
white sandwich bread, cut in half, per taster

Have tasters put their blindfolds on. Dip 1 piece of bread per taster into bowl of browned butter and place on each taster’s plate. Tasters should smell the buttered bread and then eat it, taking small bites and chewing slowly. Have tasters take a few sips of water to give their tastebuds a break.

 
10
 

Repeat with remaining pieces of bread and bowl of plain melted butter. Ask if any tasters would like to repeat tasting with either sample.

 
11
 

Observe your results: Have tasters remove their blindfolds. Ask tasters what they noticed about the 2 samples of butter. Did they smell similar or different? Did they taste similar or different? How so? Did tasters have a preference for either one?

 
12
 

Eat your experiment: Turn all of the butter from this experiment into a browned butter sauce! After step 11, add remaining plain melted butter to now-empty skillet. Brown butter over medium-low heat, following directions in step 3. Carefully pour browned butter in skillet into bowl with remaining browned butter from experiment (ask an adult for help). Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt to bowl and use rubber spatula to stir to combine. Drizzle sauce over Pan-Seared Strip Steaks.