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What’s the Difference Between Butter and Ghee?

Three plates feature butter and ghee.
MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN/Shutterstock.com

You’ve officially entered the “butter vs. ghee” chat. Yes, they are different, and no, ghee is not a new ingredient. Like butter, ghee has been used in various cultures and cuisines for centuries. But what’s the difference between them?

Butter and ghee are both dairy products made from cow’s milk, but they differ in their production process and nutritional composition. Essentially, the difference comes in how the two are made.

With both ingredients, you have to start with some cream.

Butter is made by churning cream until it separates into solid butterfat and liquid buttermilk. Butter has a creamy consistency and a rich, luscious flavor. Who doesn’t love a healthy smear of butter on toast?

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Ghee, on the other hand, is a form of clarified butter that has been simmered for a longer period of time. This heating process removes the milk solids and water from the fat of the butter. The result is an ingredient with a higher fat concentration that has a nuttier flavor.

Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter, which makes it better for high-heat cooking methods like frying and sautéing. It also has a longer shelf life than butter due to its lower moisture content. Plus, if you’re dairy sensitive or intolerant because the milk is separated from the fat, ghee is a good choice.

When it comes to nutrition, the differences between butter and ghee are negligible when looking at calories and fat content. There are really not huge separations in that way. So in terms of which you should choose for health reasons? It’s pretty much going to come down to personal preference, but no matter which you choose, just be sure to consume it in moderation.

Whether you’ve seen people debating between adding butter or ghee to coffee, or have simply seen ghee and thought, “Hey, that looks like butter,” you now know why.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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