What Is Beurre Noisette?

Beurre noisette is made by browning butter in a heavy pot.
The French use beurre noisette in the making of croissants.
Madeleines are another French pastry that utilizes beurre noisette.
Article Details
  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
On average, people spend a year of their lives looking for items they've misplaced.  more...

December 18 ,  1620 :  The Mayflower landed in Plymouth.  more...

Beurre noisette is unsalted butter that has been lightly browned, though not burned. The term is French, literally meaning hazelnut (noisette) butter (beurre), though no hazelnuts are used in making it. In addition to changing color, the butter takes on a nutty flavor not found in butter that has simply been melted. Brown butter may be used in a variety of dishes including French pastries and as a topping to cooked vegetables to give them an added dimension of flavor.

Making beurre noisette is simple, but it requires constant attention to prevent it from burning, as burnt butter has a very bitter taste. Very browned butter, or beurre noir (black butter), is also used in French cuisine in a variety of dishes from eggs to vegetables.

This items starts out as unsalted butter that is placed in a saucepan. Heavy-bottom saucepans are generally preferred, as thin pans usually expose the butter too quickly to the heat, causing the butter to be scorched. The butter is typically browned over medium heat — around 250°F degrees (about 121°C degrees). When the volume in the pan has reduced by about one quarter, the heat is turned down low. Once light brown flecks appear, the pan is removed from the heat and set it in cool water to quickly reduce the heat.


Brown butter can be used in a variety of ways. When its used to flavor fish, poultry, or vegetables, lemon juice is often added, usually in a one-to-four lemon juice-to-butter ratio. If it's used to saute food, however, lemon usually isn't used. Beurre noisette is particularly popular for sauteing breaded food because it has a lower water content and therefore helps create a more crunchy exterior.

Beurre noisette is also frequently used in making French pastries, cakes and cookies. Madeleines and financiers — miniature cakes frequently found in French bakeries — often call for it. Besides imparting a delicate nutty flavor, the browned butter gives pastries and cakes a toasty flavor.

Although browned butter can be made from traditional American-made butter, a number of chefs and culinary experts prefer making it from European or French varieties. These butters, as well as hand churned specialty butters, frequently have more distinct flavors than American ones.


More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post 3

This has actually given me what seems like a really good idea. Whenever I cook my own popcorn I melt a bit of butter in the microwave (or use olive oil) to give it some flavor. For a while I tried to use margarine because for a while people thought it was healthier for you (even though a lot of the time it isn't) but eventually I realized that margarine has too much water in it. It would melt the popcorn and make it much less crispy.

If beurre noisette has less water content and it has a nicer flavor than normal butter, then perhaps making that as the popcorn flavor would make the popcorn tastier and more crispy.

I am going to try this as soon as I have a movie night. It sounds like it could really improve my popcorn.

Post 2

@MrsPramm - Well, actually the idea that saturated fats are responsible for clogged arteries is generally based on bad science. Sugar and trans fats are much more likely to be the culprits.

You shouldn't eat too much butter, that's for sure but it tends to fill you up more and a well cooked and tended meal that tastes wonderful is more likely to satisfy you than one that's been reduced in taste so that you can avoid the dreaded saturated fats.

Moreover trans fats come from overheating vegetable oils, so actually they aren't that much healthier than saturated fats. I think beurre blanc or noisette is perfectly fine in moderation like most things. People have been eating it for generations without it doing that much harm.

Post 1

French cooking tastes so delicious precisely because they put so much butter into the food. Butter is essentially pure saturated fat which is why it tastes so good. Once upon a time it would have been the best energy source a caveman could find. But now it's responsible for clogged arteries and the growing obesity epidemic. You're much better off using a vegetable oil which you won't have to look after to make sure it doesn't burn black either and tastes almost as good.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?