What’s the deal with ghee?
You’ve likely seen or heard about it in recent months but have no idea what it actually is. Sound familiar? Ghee is made by slowly simmering butter to remove water and milk solids. What’s left over is ALL that pure butter fat. If you’ve ever tasted it, you’ll know that it produces a nutty, rich flavor that is quite different but soothingly similar to a stick of butter. The taste is mainly due to the fact that the simmering process is actually longer and slower than other types of ‘clarified’ butter (note: ghee is a type of clarified butter but clarified butter does not equal ghee).
Photo by The Pioneer Woman
Ghee has been used for thousands of years in Indian cuisine and in Ayurvedic therapeutic treatments. The rise in popularity today goes hand and hand with the growing interest in high fat and dairy free diets (think: keto, paleo, whole30). Studies conducted over the years show that although there aren’t drastic differences between ghee and butter, there are a few that may impact which one you choose to keep around the house:
- Because ghee is more concentrated than butter, it has a bit higher calorie content and saturated and monounsaturated fat composition (not that we really care about calories here).
- Ghee contains no milk fat or water and as such does not need to be refrigerated like butter (and will be in solid form, like coconut oil, until heated).
- It goes without saying, ghee is dairy free and butter is not (making it easier for most humans to digest).
- Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter (meaning it maintains more of the nutrients that burn off oils with a lower smoke point). Some also say that ghee produces much less toxic compounds like acrylamide than other vegetable and seed oils (canola, grapeseed).
- If you want to keep it creamy and aren’t trying to go dairy free – stick with butter (no pun intended). It’s thicker and smoother than the nutty, rich ghee.
So….which one is better for me?
The answer: it depends. There are still no overwhelming conclusive studies suggesting that ghee increases over health. Some randomized control studies on rats have shown that ghee can reduce LDL and increase HDL (aka the bad and good cholesterol, respectively), but nothing is for certain.
Bottom line: if you’re trying to eliminate dairy from your diet and are cooking at high temps (sauteing, baking), we think ghee is a great alternative to the old fashioned (especially if the old fashioned is ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ or non grass-fed). By no means should it become an everyday staple but go ahead and throw it in some recipes and enjoy it’s unique benefits and flavor.
Where can I get it?
Shop the links below for our favorite brands. Make sure to buy a certified organic brand made out of butter from pasture-raised cows (you’ll reap the most nutritional benefits).
Trying to save a little extra cash and want to get creative? You can (pretty easily) make your own ghee right at home! All you’ll need is a pound of unsalted butter (grass fed, ideally), a saucepan, a sieve, and cheesecloth. The Pioneer Woman and The Healthy Foodie give a great ‘how-to’ guide on their website. Grab the recipes into the app here & here.
Want the Recipe(s)?
Whole 30 Creamy Taco Soup by The Movement Menu
Seared Scallops by Fed+Fit
Photo by: Fed + Fit
Pumpkin Spice Fat Bombs by Rachael’s Good Eats
Photo by: Rachael Devaux @ Rachael’s Good Eats