Easy Brown Butter Buttercream

 Sometimes the simplest ingredients can come together to make something that is decadent, flavorful and shockingly delicious. In this case, all it takes is (browned) butter, powdered sugar, a little milk, vanilla, and salt to create a brown sugary, caramel-like buttercream that surely is to die for. Life is about the simple things.

I do love a classic recipe. Sometimes traditional is best. However, when I am in the kitchen, I am always thinking of ways to slightly elevate the traditional dishes and treats we all know and love just by tweaking a few ingredients or methods. In this recipe, you'll see how that can become such a gift to humanity!

I would like to call this buttercream 💫magical💫, and when you make it, you'll see what I mean. Just ONE simple modification to a step transforms a very sweet, classic vanilla buttercream into a buttery, caramelized, and brown sugary tasting spread that will elevate any cake, cupcake, or cookie. I mean, I seriously can't get enough.

It tases like I've spent hours making a salted caramel sauce to fold into a buttercream, while I just browned the butter. An extra 5 minute step can make all the difference when it comes to this buttercream.

Why Browned Butter?

If I could write a love letter to brown butter, I would. I might even marry it if I was given the chance.

I remember when I first tried this buttercream. I couldn't believe how much of a difference one step could make for the end result.

If you're new to it, brown butter truly is a one ingredient wonder, and it can be used for so many things. It adds so much flavor to even the simplest of recipes and can transform a dish from basic to mind-blowing.

Browned butter is so easy to do, and it only takes a few minutes to add a whole bunch of flavor without any extra ingredients. The step of browning butter only takes about 5-7 minutes, typically. Melting the butter, allowing the butter to foam, bubble, and brown, caramelizing the milk solids. Your kitchen is bound to smell delicious.

Browned butter especially popular in French cuisine, and in French it is "beurre noisette." It is used a lot in baking, savory dishes, and cooled, whipped, and spread on a fresh & crusty baguette. 

Browned butter is a very simple way to add so much more flavor to a recipe. I love to see this played out in Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats. The simple step of browning butter brings such a warm, caramel-y taste to an otherwise "boring" rice crispy treat. 

How to Brown Butter

In a saucepan, add your butter and let melt over medium heat. If possible, use a lightly colored saucepan so you can see the butter deepen in color. Butter can go from beautifully browned to burnt quickly, so being able to watch the color helps.

Let the butter melt and caramelize, stirring occasionally. It will be a few minutes and the butter will bubble and foam. Some of the water in the butter will evaporate, creating steam. Once the butter starts to become aromatic, toasty, and nutty smelling, about 5-7 minutes, remove from the heat. It should deepen slightly in color.

You'll see some little brown bits at the bottom of the pan - this is flavor! These are the caramelized milk solids. Some people strain the butter if they need it very smooth, but for this purpose, we want all the flavor we can get. So, I don't mind seeing those little golden flecks. 

If you'd like to read more about this process, Sally's Baking Addiction has a great post here.

Ingredients You'll Need for Browned Butter Buttercream

- Butter: I always use unsalted butter, so that I can control how much salt is added. But, if you only have salted butter, taste your buttercream before adding any salt.

- Powdered Sugar

- Heavy Cream or Whole Milk

- Vanilla Extract

- Salt

How to Make Brown Butter Buttercream

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The butter will foam, the foam will dissipate, bubble, and begin to deepen in color as the milk solids begin to caramelize. This takes 5-7 minutes, and you’ll know when the butter is ready when it begins to smell nutty, very fragrant, and deepens in color. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 3 minutes.
  2. While the butter is browning, place the powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Set aside.
  3. Pour the slightly cooled browned butter in with the powdered sugar and begin beating until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. The buttercream may look like it’s separated, but continue to mix to emulsify.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue mixing. Adjust consistency with heavy cream (or milk) to your preference. Add a little bit at a time, mixing in between.

Once the buttercream has reached your desired thickness, spread over cake, cookies, or pipe on cupcakes. Enjoy!

Other Buttercream Recipes to Try

As a fruit lover, this fresh Blueberry Buttercream is ridiculously tasty. It can be made with either fresh or frozen blueberries, and it couldn't be any easier to make. Every step is worth the effort, and the buttercream will become a new favorite. Guaranteed.

A bit of an adult favorite is this Brandy Italian Buttercream. It's more delicious than one could ever imagine. The slow cooking of the brandy in the sugar syrup brings out so many flavors that I didn't know brandy even had. It's fruity, floral, nutty, and a little dried-fruity. Most of the alcohol cooks out, but there's an option of adding more in towards the end of the whipping process. Choose your fate. But, either way.. it's a tasty one.

Looking for the basics? This Traditional Vanilla Buttercream is just for you. With just a handful of ingredients and a couple minutes of your time - you can have this beautiful, silky smooth buttercream to enjoy on cake, cupcakes, or cookies. 

Who doesn't love peanut butter? This Peanut Butter Italian Buttercream is all I could ever dream of in a perfect buttercream. Salty, sweet, peanut buttery. If you're a fan of peanut butter - you'll love this.

Looking for something different to add to your next cupcake or cake? This Best Ever Mocha Buttercream is just the recipe for you, then. It’s luxurious and divine. It’s made with melted chocolate chips, instead of cocoa powder, which makes for the best texture and most chocolate flavor possible. It’s so good.


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