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Butter and Clarified Butter

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. What is the difference between US and European butter?
  2. What is the smoke point of butter?
  3. What is clarified butter? What is ghee?
  4. Is butter healthy or unhealthy?

Butter is made by churning cream and contains at least 80% milk fat1. European-style butter typically contains 82%-85% milk fat. Butter may be salted or not, so be sure to pay attention to whether your recipe specifies which to use, most baking recipes call for unsalted.2

Butter's incredible flavor has made it an extremely popular cooking fat, but it is important to know that butter has the lowest smoke point of almost any cooking fat. This means butter literally starts to smoke at a lower temperature than most other fatsbetween 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit.3

Clarified butter, on the other hand, is the pure butterfat that remains when the milk solids and water have been removed from normal butter. Clarified butter can be used to cook at higher temperatures than normal butter. You can easily clarify butter yourself. Ghee is a type of clarified butter common in Indian dishes. So while butter is great for cooking at lower temperatures, for high temperature cooking clarified butter, ghee, or a cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as coconut oil, are better choices.

As far as health concerns go, recent studies have suggested that saturated fat (like the fat found in butter) might not be as harmful as commonly thought.4

Nutrition DNA

The nutrition DNA of butter and clarified butter. For example, you can see that 1 tablespoon butter covers 59% of your daily need of Saturated Fat and 23% of the recommended Fat intake. Hover over the bars to see which nutrient is covered.


  1. Real Simple - Types of Butter
  2. WebExhibits - Butter for Baking
  3. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation
  4. NHS - Link between Saturated Fats and Heart Disease Unproven


  1. US butter usually contains 80% milk fat, while European butter contains 82-85%.
  2. Butter has a smoke point of 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Clarified butter is pure butterfat. Ghee is a type or clarified butter.
  4. Research suggests saturated fat may not be harmful.
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