How to Keep Melted Butter From Separating

Stabilized butter has a glossy sheen and consistent density.
Stabilized butter has a glossy sheen and consistent density. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Emulsions separate when exposed to extreme temperatures. Butter begins to destabilize at 160 degrees Fahrenheit and completely separates at 190 degrees. The best way to prevent butter from separating is diligent monitoring of its temperature. Fortunately, you can correct most mistakes in the kitchen, including broken emulsions and separated butter. The addition of emulsifying agents such as lecithin, which occurs naturally in egg yolks and soybeans, helps keep butter from breaking without altering its flavor. Adding fat, ideally heavy cream, also returns butter to a stabilized state.

Things You'll Need

  • Candy thermometer
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Whisk
  • 1/2 tsp. soy lecithin powder
  • 1 tsp. heavy cream

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Insert a candy thermometer into the melting butter and make sure it doesn’t heat past 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the butter from the heat and stir. Add 1/2 tsp. of salt per cup of butter. Whisk the butter vigorously until it emulsifies, approximately one minute. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and hold the butter at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir the butter and remove it from the stove. Add 1/2 tsp. of soy lecithin powder per cup of butter and mix well with a whisk. Return the pan to the heat and hold the butter at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the butter from the stove and stir. Add 1 tsp. of cold heavy cream to the butter and mix until an emulsion forms, approximately one minute.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep a small amount of cold water at the ready when heating butter. If you see butter starting to seaparate, add several drops of cold water and mix well. This will bring down the temperature of the butter just long enough to adjust the heat and re-emulsify.

References

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