Indian Essentials: How to Make Ghee | Nature’s Fabulous Food

Ghee is said to be the essence of a cow – first the cow produces milk, then cream is made from the milk. The best of the milk is extracted to make butter and then the best of the butter extracted to make ghee. How close to “essence of cow” is that!


I have been making ghee for myself and others since around 2000. It does take a few practice attempts to perfect, but once you have done it you will never buy ghee again. It is quite different.

All it requires is butter and mindfulness – it does need to be watched continually. The end point tricky to judge the first couple of times that you make it. But after that, you are a pro. It takes about 30 minutes all up. The amount of time that it takes depends on the amount of water in the butter, and different brands of butter will take different times.

Feel free to browse our Indian recipes here. Or try recipes using ghee here. Our Spring recipes are here.

Ghee on Stove

 A Valuable Food and Medicine

Ghee is one of the most valuable foods and medicines around. It can be used in place of butter and oil. It adds a very special flavour of its own. It is the best cooking oil – it heats to high heats without burning – and keeps indefinitely without refrigeration. In fact it is better kept out of the fridge.

And as the cow is sacred to Hindus, the eating of Ghee is a very special thing.

Ghee is said to be the essence of a cow – first the cow produces milk, then cream is made from the milk. The best of the milk is extracted to make butter and then the best of the butter extracted to make ghee. You can see why ghee is called the essence of a cow!

Ayurvedically speaking, ghee is good for all doshas in differing amounts, and is a specific for Pitta. This is a great read on Ghee and Ayurveda.

Clarified butter?

Ghee is such an incredible food, full of aroma, taste and texture, and a very healthy oil.

Often people will refer to ghee as clarified butter. It is, technically speaking,  but please read this article.

Making Ghee

There is nothing like making your own ghee. The flavour and the quality is better, and the energetics of the ritual involved will impart a subtle yet profound effect to your food that others will notice.

What is surprising is the amount of impurities that comes out of the butter – and we normally eat it.

Butters will vary in content, especially water content. The amount of froth and the times it takes to make your ghee may vary. Be mindful. Watch it carefully until you are used to making it.

Unsalted butter has fewer impurities, so use it if you can. However, you can make this with your normal brand of butter too – the impurities will be expelled in the process.

So have a go – here is the recipe. Practice and mindfulness makes perfect.

It smells so good while it is cooking. Buttery and sweet.

Also, feel free to browse all of our Indian recipes and our collection of Indian Essentials. Or try recipes using Ghee.

Important Reading:

Ghee – Nature’s Fabulous Food.

500g – 1 kg butter, unsalted organic if possible.

fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fresh curry leaves or sea salt

Heavy bottomed and deep saucepan.
Jug that can withstand high temperatures.
Sieve / Strainer
Piece of muslin

Place the butter into a heavy bottomed and deep stainless steel saucepan. Over a gentle heat, melt the butter, then continue to cook it over moderate heat so that it boils gently. It will seem a bit volcanic at first as the water boils off.

Foam will rise to the surface as the milk solids separate. This can be skimmed off, but will turn brown and settle to the bottom if you don’t, anyway. I don’t bother. Continue cooking for 20 – 30 minutes or more, and you will notice a coating forming on the bottom of the pan (you may not see it through the bubbles, but trust me, it is there).

More importantly, the foaming will die down considerably. This occurs after around 20 – 25 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes. Careful attention is needed here otherwise it will burn and ruin the taste.

Watch for all foaming to cease. The ghee will boil silently with only a trace of bubbles. The colour will be pure gold, and just as it is done, a rich aroma arises. Remove from the heat. Don’t miss that aroma – a beautiful buttery, almost brown-sugary smell.

You can allow to cool slightly and then pour the ghee carefully into a clean jar or pot through a fine sieve or muslin cloth, making sure that the sticky sediment on the bottom of the pan – the cooked milk solids – remains on the bottom of the pan. This sediment is discarded.

Ghee-licious Image

I generally strain the ghee immediately it is ready through a muslin lined strainer into a huge and temperature-proof measuring jug. I let it cool here a little and then pour into a container. You may find that if you leave the ghee on the stove to cool, it will continue to cook in its own heat. The bottom of the pan is fairly yucky – I rinse it later and stick it in the dishwasher. The muslin gets shaken out to remove some of the solids and then gets thrown in the washing machine.

Add a couple of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, a pinch of sea salt or some fresh curry leaves at the end for great flavour (optional).

Nourishing Indian Food says the following:

“In ancient days, betel leaves and curry leaves were usually added to the butter during the clarification process. But it is now recognized that these substances indeed possess antioxidant properties, which will not only improve the shelf life and taste of the product but also they are safe to consume. The resultant ghee has a wonderful aroma and grainy texture. Ghee implies a certain flavor profile, that continues to develop as it is stored for more than a year. So do not refrigerate ghee.”

Ghee collage

Please be careful. The ghee is very very hot when you make it. Make sure that the container that you pour it into can take the high temperatures. Also – DO NOT leave it alone while it is cooking. It is an oil, after all.

Once you have perfected the process of making ghee, make it with organic cultured butter – it gives a superior result and you WILL notice the difference.

Sometimes life is busy. I love to make ghee, but when life is busy, then shop bought it is. It’s important to look for cow ghee these days, as most commercial ghee is made from buffalo milk. I try to avoid ghee that does not specify its source.



How to use Ghee

Ghee may be used in place of butter. It is the best cooking oil, taking high temperatures without burning.

  • When cooking any Indian dish, use instead of oil or butter for sautéing or making the tadka at the end. If you cook Indian regularly, you will use it a lot.
  • Drizzle one tsp of ghee on hot cooked rice. Anything with rice tastes so much better with ghee. Try cooking rice, then stirring through a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon of ghee. Yum.
  • Use it when preparing different types of fried rice.
  • Sauté spices in ghee. Many spices only release their true flavour in oil, not water.
  • On toast!
  • And on boiled potatoes.
  • Garlic roasted in ghee, spread on the bread is garlic-bread at its best.
  • In Hindu temples, ghee is burned in fire ceremonies and used to anoint the devotees.
  • Ghee is used as an internal and external remedy and also as a massage oil.

Anything with ghee is ghee-licious. You can’t go wrong.








42 thoughts on “Indian Essentials: How to Make Ghee | Nature’s Fabulous Food”

  1. This is an amazing post – very interesting, and also evocative! I shall have to make ghee myself! I simply love it! And what a wonderful idea to stir a tbsp of ghee + lemon juice through rice! Also, I had no idea ghee is better kept out of fridge. I’ll definitely take mine out NOW! 🙂

    You wrote ghee is a medicine. I’m wondering, what are ghees medicinal properties? Thanks! 🙂

    1. hi ………….was just browsing through pages and came across this.i am an indian and here we use ghee in most of the traditional recipes…………ghee has also lots of medicinal values……i remember my grandmom giving us (chopped ginger, black pepper and sugar sauted in ghee) to cure us from cough and cold.

  2. Hi Maninas, glad you enjoyed it. I had a look to find info on medicinal properties and found this : “Since ghee picks up on the energy vibrations that are in the environment, you can play or sing your favorite mantra while it is cooking.” I love that, don’t you? You can cook love and joy into your ghee.

    Anyway, have a look here and here

    India /Hinduism has its own health system – Ayurveda – that divides people into combinations of three main types, called doshas. Some of the information in these posts refer to the specific needs of individual doshas. Ghee is good for vata – vatas need oil to ground them and to manage the tendency to be a bit “flighty”, for example.

    So, I hope that those sites will give you some idea.

    How can something so delicious be so good for you too?

  3. Thanks for the info, I’ll have a look there.

    I’ve heard about the division you mention. I’ll try and find out more about it. I definitely notice that some foods/dishes give me a huge boost of energy.

  4. Hi Maninas, tonight I came across the following information and thought of you:
    I just want to add a few points on my research regarding ghee to convince you to use ghee liberally.Ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties. It also is said to aid digestion and utrient assimilation. Daily intake of ghee sharpens the intellect, and promotes a clear complexion and voice. It is also said to have anti-aging properties and most of all it doesn’t have the free radicals like other hydrogenated oils, which cause heart diseases.People allergic to milk protein can safely cook with pure ghee as the offending proteins are removed during the clarifying process.

    It is from Nourishing Indian Food

    1. Ghee is so yummy. But it needs consertration. I guess you just have to work hard for the good stuff. 🙂

  5. Thank you very much for the procedure to make ghee. My mother used to make good ghee on her own and hence spoiled? my taste buds.So whenever I buy ghee from the shop, I find it is tasteless and flavourless.(Is that really so?) Hence I tried myself many times,but the result will be more disastrous , but I console myself that my ghee is much better than the readymade ones sold in the shops.
    Now I hope , with your step by step instructions,I will succeed.
    Instead of curry leaves,the drumstick leaves soaked in buttermilk can be used for more flavour.

    Maybe it is time to make your own, but watch it very carefully so that you don’t overcook it. Drumstick sounds very nice. They are real hard to get here.

  6. Thanks for your article on making ghee! I’ve heard if you make it in a double boiler (rather than direct heat) you have a much lower likelihood of it scorching. Have you tried this before? I’ll have to try and make some soon! One other question, how do you know when all the water is boiled off? Will it stop “boiling” (if kept at about 212 degrees F)? Thanks!

    I haven’t tried a double boiler – actually I don’t have trouble making it directly on the heat. But it does take careful watching.

    If you watch it carefully you will see the bubbling reduce and the oil go a lovely golden colour, with a wonderful aroma. This is the point. Be prepared to have one or two batches go wrong. Actually, I have only ever had one batch “burn” – after many years of making my own. I made it at a time when I was very busy and did not watch it enough. Morale is: make it when you have the time. It is a very meditative thing to do.

  7. I use patan ghee in my food regularly. It is very healthy, aromatic and with a good flavor. Cheers….

  8. Hi, I’ve done this twice now, and both times, when that aroma comes, the ghee is a carmel color, very much like the color in the top photo on the left. I see that your bottom photo’s show a more golden yellow color. Am I missing the time of change? It tastes wonderful, not burnt, but it’s not like yours.
    Thanks for all your work and sharing.

    1. So pleased that you are making it, Daethmye. If it tastes good, it must be Ok. Different butters will give different results, too, so the colour may vary because of that. Try stopping just a little before you do now and see what the results are like. Don’t be afraid to experiment. By the time that you have made it half a dozen times you will be doing it with your eyes closed.

  9. Thanks for sharing your tips! I especially appreciate the photos, showing the various stages of the recipe.

    I made ghee this morning, using your approach. The only difference is how I strained the ghee after it finished cooking. I used a porcelain single-cone filter cone (these are also widely available in plastic, but I personally don’t feel comfortable exposing plastic to heat), lined with an unbleached #2 paper filter, to strain the ghee right into the glass container. Afterwards, the cone went into the dishwasher and the paper filter went into the trash. No fuss, no muss 🙂

  10. You can add a few drops of milk in place of the beetle leaves. it gets all the particles to come down to the bottom of the vessel. you can then just transfer ghee to the container you want to sore it in. No need to filter!!

  11. Ganga: Fabulous. We make it at home all the time. And love the aroma of home made ghee. We call it “tuup” in konkani. To enhance the flavor, in Mumbai, our elders add a few leaves of tulsi. Fab.

    here, (in addition to everything you have said) I spread it over toasted blueberry raisin bread. Try it. Out of this world!


  12. Thanks for the procedure to make ghee.. 🙂

    Can u please let me know how to make ghee from milk cream[Haalina kene in kannada]

    Thanks for the same,

  13. Thanks a lot for the immediate reply.. 🙂

    But, is it churning the cream[as specified in that site] and then follow the remaining procedure as urs..?


    1. Also, here is another way. It bypasses the churning (which separates out the buttermilk and solidifies the fat), and puts the cream directly on the heat to make ghee.

      “When you have collected enough cream which can be anything from 100 to 500 gms, heat a kadhai and add the cream. Let it melt on low heat. It will foam initially and then settle down. Continue to cook on low heat for 45 minutes, till all the solids have sunk to the bottom of the kadhai. Drain off the liquid part. Strain though a cloth or stainless steel mesh strainer. After a while, when cold it becomes white in colour and solid. There is no need to refrigerate the ghee.”

  14. An article I read about the benefits of ghee, had one exception, and that is if you have “high ama”! What is the definition of “high ama”? I’ve searched and have found nothing.

  15. Thanks for the lovely post.

    Please could you elaborate on high ama?
    How would one know that she has high ama? I understand that the white coating on the tongue indicates one form of ama but what if it is just a thin coating?
    What can be done if one is vata-pitta and ghee is the only oil she can use? How can the ama be removed?

    1. Hi Anshul, I love the Ayurvedic approach to life and the wonderful knowledge that it embeds.. However, for the advice that you seek, it would be best to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner. There are a number on the internet with blogs. Best of luck.

  16. wonderful publish, very informative. I ponder why the other specialists of this sector don’t realize this. You must proceed your writing. I am confident, you have a great readers’ base already!

  17. Hi Ganga. Just wanted to note that the ghee recipe mentioned here is not the ghee that is the ghee mentioned in the ayurvedic texts nor does it have the same qualities. Ghee is made from curd not just from cream.

    1. Yes, the ancient way was to use a fermentation process to skim the cream from the milk (hence the confusion with yoghurt, it is actually a curd made from cream), then make butter from that and finally to make ghee from that butter. Here is an article that I referenced above in an answer to a similar question.

      Thanks for your valuable input. Best wishes for your continuing studies – a student of life, I like that.

  18. Wonderful Info. I have made Ghee only 2 times. I follow the GAPS diet healing program, and ghee is part of that diet. My question is, how long does the butter have to simmer to separate out the impurities?

    After buying a fairly expensive organic, local and low heat pasteurized butter, I am concerned my money and efforts will be in vain if the nutrients are cooked out. Is this true? Or unfounded? I simmered it only about 10 or so minutes, skimmed off the foam and poured off the yellow oil thru a permanent coffee filter into a jar. I stopped pouring before the white stuff on the bottom could run out (it was not amber, caramelized, or burnt, but still white. I kept a small jar on counter top and a larger jar in the fridge.

    Also, if 10 min. is not enough, can i re-simmer it to further clarify it?
    thanx for the informative site.

    1. Hi Michele, the amount of time it takes to make ghee depends on the butter. In my experience, really good butter takes less time than ordinary supermarket-bought butter. Rest assured you will not remove anything healthy by making ghee. Ghee has great properties not contained in butter. Simmer until the bubbling is ceasing and a wonderful aroma arises from the pan. Watch carefully in the last stages as it can quickly overcook.

  19. I find that making ghee at home can be time consuming, but I like the home-made taste. After sampling various brands of ghee, I can simply say that the best is Ancient Organics ghee. The butter they use is higher quality that any kind I can buy in the store. The quality is even better than any home-made ghee I have made or tried. Don’t waste your money on that Purity Farms stuff, it just doesn’t compare if you want the real thing. Yum!

  20. Wow – this is a WONDERFUL tutorial, and so informative. I know a lot about Ghee already, but was looking for a tutorial to link my readers to rather than go into detail myself. I was so tired of finding tutorials titled “How to make Clarified Butter (Ghee)” – argh!
    Not only will I be linking to you, but next time I make Ghee I’ll refer back here if I’ve forgotten anything. Thank you!

  21. I just made ghee from freshly made butter and the first batch is carmel colored but my second batch is yellow. Did I not boil it long enough?
    Thank you!

    1. It’s hard to tell. Have a look at it once it solidifies to see whether impurities remain – sometimes they will settle to the bottom. In either case, you can still use it, and as you gain experience in making ghee, you will learn to tell the correct end point quite easily.

      Congratulations on making ghee with fresh butter.

  22. I am a stay @ home mom and wife and think both my boys need some serious intake adjustments. After reading on the GAPS program I am ready to start! Thank you so much for the “clarification” on the ghee versus clarified butter and the additions to make it more flavorful. I will keep an eye on additional posts to keep me updated!

  23. My first attempt was a failure. Boo Hoo Turned dark brown not golden, but even it it might have tasted okay I used a nylon sieve or what was a sieve now melted. Directions should note metal or heat proof sieve for the new comers to scalding hot butter. Will try again

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