Maybe you’re whipping up an Indian-inspired dinner, or you’re taking the Paleo diet for a spin. You’ve seen it on ingredient lists, or as a substitute for butter. Wondering what’s the deal with ghee? We’ve got the details on the tasty cooking fat (and why it’s better than butter).
What is ghee made of? Ghee is a byproduct of butter, made by slowly simmering the golden good stuff and straining off the milk solids. What’s left is pure butter fat, and that’s ghee. Think of it as simply a more durable, more flavorful butter replacement.
Isn’t that the same as clarified butter? It’s similar, but not really. They’re made the same way, but ghee is actually cooked longer, until the milk solids start to brown and all moisture has evaporated. The resulting flavor is more nutty and toasty compared to that of clarified butter, sort of like a caramelized version of your favorite spread. It also means ghee contains no water, so it’s practically spoil-proof—it lasts about a year in the fridge and three months out.
OK…so why should I cook with it? Aside from being delicious and shelf-stable, you mean? Well, ghee has a super-high smoke point, so it’s great for sautéing. Because it has no milk proteins or lactose, it’s easier for sensitive stomachs to digest, as well as Paleo- and Whole30-approved. When made from grass-fed butter, it retains all of those good-for-you vitamins and minerals, plus fatty acids that can aid inflammation and digestion. Ghee is also an important ingredient in Ayurvedic recipes, where it's used for its therapeutic properties. And it tastes like butter…but way better.
Sold. How do I cook with it? You can use ghee the same way you would use any other cooking fat (especially for high-heat cooking since it's harder to burn) but we like it in spicy curries or this harissa chickpea stew with eggplant and millet. You could also add a tablespoon to golden milk or moon milk for an ultra-soothing (and delicious) drink.