All Your Ghee Questions Answered

Find out what, exactly, ghee is and how you can make it at home.



Photo by: vm2002


Are you a ghee whiz? Many of us probably aren’t even totally clear on what ghee is, despite the fact that the clarified butter is a staple in Indian food and a preferred fat among Paleo diet devotees as well.

Here are a few basics:

First of all, how do you pronounce it? With a hard “g,” as in “good” or “great.” (Listen here.)

What is it and how do you make it? Basically, to make ghee, you take butter (unsalted, grass-fed butter is recommended) and slowly melt it so that the milk solids sink to the bottom and the golden liquid butterfat floats on top. Then you simmer it to get rid it of the moisture (or water) and until the milk solids start to turn golden brown. (Be careful not to let it burn.) This light browning gives the clarified butter “a nutty, caramellike flavor and aroma,” according to the Food Lover’s Companion. (Here’s a recipe.)

What distinguishes it from regular clarified butter? Ghee is stronger in color and flavor than regular clarified butter, and it also has a longer shelf life (it can last up to six months in the fridge or a year in the freezer) and a higher smoke point (nearly 375 degrees F), which makes it especially useful for sauteing and frying foods.

Where do you get it? You can buy ghee at specialty markets that sell Indian, Middle Eastern foods or at many gourmet grocery stores. And its growing popularity has made it more widely available — Whole FoodsTrader Joe’sAmazon and Walmart all carry ghee. It’s probably cheaper to make it at home, though, and it's really not that difficult. Plus, you can flavor your ghee with ginger, peppercorns, cumin or other ingredients ahead of clarifying.

Are there any health benefits to it? “Ghee is more tolerable [than butter] for those who have sensitivities to lactose, because the milk solids have been removed,” registered dietician Hannah Burkhalter recently wrote on, warning, however, that, as a dairy-based food, ghee is to be avoided by those who are seriously allergic to dairy.

What should you use it in? You could try ghee in Chicken Tikka MasalaCurried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and TomatoesRoti or Vermicelli Payasam, just to get you started. (Get more ghee ideas here.)

So go on and ghee it!

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Photo: iStock

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