How to Substitute Ghee for Butter

By Suzanne Akerman

Smoky yet refined, complex yet restrained, ghee adds layers of flavor to just about any dish that calls for butter. Unlike regular butter, ghee has a high smoking point, so you can use it to deep-fry, saute and shallow-fry without smoking or burning. Ghee and clarified butter are essentially the same fat; however, ghee cooks with the milk solids longer during its preparation, so it has a stronger infusion of the caramelized, nutty, milk-solid flavor. You can substitute ghee for butter using a one-to-one ratio.

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Close-up of butter in small bowl

Step 1

Add the same amount of ghee as butter that a recipe requires in a 1-to-1 ratio. Substituting ghee for butter does not work in a recipe served cold or one that requires the butter to bind, such as cereal treats. Substituting ghee for butter works best in a warm dish where a buttery aroma and nutty flavor are desirable.

Step 2

Taste the dish to compare the consistency and texture of the recipe to what it would be when using butter. Because ghee is essentially liquid, your dish could be more moist than if made with regular butter. If you are preparing a dough recipe, add a tablespoon or so of extra flour to counteract the moisture.

Step 3

Add a pinch of salt to taste. Adding salt is optional; however, if salt is essential to the dish's flavor, add it because ghee contains no salt at all.

Step 4

Watch the heat closely to prevent overcooking. Ghee does not burn as quickly as butter, so if you wait for smoking as an indication of readiness, your food could overcook. Instead, check meat using a meat thermometer, test vegetables for firmness with a fork, and taste sauces as you cook.