It’s a foolproof way to make that liquid gold.

Nina Friend
March 30, 2018

“If you’ve ever made brown butter in a skillet,” says Food & Wine Culinary Director Justin Chapple, “then you know it can go totally wrong in just two seconds.”

If you’re not careful, the butter can quickly turn from gold and nutty to black and burnt. Luckily, Chapple has a Mad Genius Tip — thought up by baker and pastry chef Jessie Sheehan — that simplifies butter browning into what Chapple says is a "virtually hands-free" process. For as complicated as this technique can seem, with Chapple’s tip, all you need is a microwave-safe bowl, a heatproof plate, some parchment paper, and a microwave.

“I know it sounds crazy,” Chapple says, “but it actually really works.”

Here’s what you do: Drop a stick of butter into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a sheet of parchment paper. Place a heatproof plate on top of the parchment — this will act as a lid. Put the whole contraption into the microwave, on full power, for five to seven minutes. Check the butter every minute until it turns gold in color and smells like toasted nuts. Once it’s done, take the butter out of the microwave and remove the plate and the parchment paper.

Either use the brown butter right away on a dish like this potato gnocchi, or cover the bowl and refrigerate for a future culinary endeavor (brown butter layer cake, anyone?). Chapple often chooses the latter option, saving the liquid gold for a rainy day. He says, “I love to make a big batch of this and keep it in the refrigerator.”

With this Mad Genius Tip for nearly-instantaneous brown butter, you’ll be stocked for everything from movie night snacks like brown butter popcorn to dinner party hors d'oeuvres like crispy frico cups with brown butter and polenta.

Check out these videos for more of Chapple’s Mad Genius Tips.