Browned Butter Frosting is a unique topping to add to any baked good! All you need are four ingredients and a little patience to make perfectly sweet, nutty and utterly decadent frosting! Slather it on cookies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and more. Makes 8 servings.
Boy, oh boy. This recipe has been a long time coming and I am thrilled to share it with you today.
It’ll come in handy as we are all knee-deep in baked goods in the coming weeks and months.
Also, it’s hard to say no to browned butter since browned butter can bring an entire recipe to a whole new level.
So… what is brown butter?
It is regular butter that’s been heated slowly, which leads to browned milk solids.
The milk solids toast, giving the butter its golden color and nutty flavor.
The flavor is full-bodied and strong, toasty and utterly delicious.
Why I love this recipe:
I love browned butter in almost anything.
This, obviously, is a sweet application.
Browned butter is decadent when added to frosting and then slathered on a baked good. To be honest, this recipe elevates whatever you pair it with.
The thing I love about this Browned Butter Frosting is that it’s wonderfully decadent, creamy and nutty. There are notes of caramel in it, too, which make me happy.
It pairs beautifully with pumpkin and other seasonal flavors. I also hear this would be excellent on banana bars, too.
You can use it on cookies, as well as cupcakes, cakes (sheet cakes OR layer cakes), cinnamon rolls and more. Basically, this Brown Butter Frosting is a workhorse in the best possible way.
Please note that this is not a Brown Butter Buttercream Frosting, nor is it a Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. If you’re looking for those, you’ll need to go elsewhere.
Looking for more frosting recipes? Check out my Icing Recipe Index.
What you need to make this recipe:
The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.
- Kitchen scale
- Skillet or small saucepan
- Large mixing bowl
- Fine mesh strainer
- An electric mixer, such as a hand mixer or stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment)
- Airtight storage container
- Freezer-safe storage container
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need to grab at the grocery store:
- Unsalted butter — this will cook down to make brown butter. There is no substitute, other than salted butter. When browned, it provides nutty flavor to the entire recipe.
- Powdered sugar — also known as confectioners’ sugar, this is the sweetener for our frosting.
- Milk — you can use whatever type of milk you’ve got on hand. I’ve made this with skim milk, as well as whole milk. A splash of heavy cream would also work.
- Kosher salt — just a pinch! It will balance out the sweetness of the frosting. Trust me. If you use salted butter, do not add this since there will be salt in the recipe already.
Can I make this recipe with vegan butter or margarine?
No. The magic of brown butter is that the milk solids toast. They give the butter a fragrant, nutty aroma and taste.
Since margarine and vegan butters do not have milk solids, they cannot brown or provide the same flavor.
How to make Brown Butter Frosting
Brown the butter. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Place the butter in the bottom of the pan. Let it melt.
Move the skillet over the heat constantly, and allow the butter to brown. It will begin to crackle and pop. When the golden brown flecks become more prominent, remove from the heat and set aside to cool for a bit.
(If you want to learn more about this process, check out my How to Brown Butter post.)
Measure the powdered sugar into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. If your powdered sugar is chunky, run it through a fine mesh strainer so that your frosting will not be lumpy.
If the brown butter is too warm, you will need to chill the frosting to get it to the right consistency. Give it time to cool before adding to the frosting for best results.
Pour the slightly cooled browned butter, which includes the liquid, as well as the little brown bits, on top of the powdered sugar.
Add the milk and a pinch of salt.
Use a hand mixer or whisk to beat the frosting.
Start at a low speed before you turn it up to a medium speed, beating until it is smooth. Add more milk if the frosting is too thick.
The thickness of this recipe is dependent on how hot the butter is. As you can see in my photos, I used warmer butter and because of that, I needed to chill the frosting before smearing on cookies.
When the frosting reaches the desired consistency, slather on the baked goods of your choosing and enjoy!
How to store and freeze
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The frosting will firm up as the butter solidifies, so you will need to let it come to room temperature before using. You can also mix in another splash of milk.
How to freeze: Transfer to a freezer-safe storage container. Freeze for 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before using.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
While I’m not going to tell you to make and serve this Brown Butter Frosting by itself for an event, I will tell you that it slathers beautifully on SO MANY BAKED GOODS that I recommend making it to share with those.
The toasty flavor it adds is just magical and perfect for the fall and winter months.
Here’s how I would make and serve this for any get-together:
- Make the frosting in advance! Once made, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to store until it’s time to use. Let it come to room temperature before spreading.
- Double or triple the recipe. That way, you won’t run out!
- Make sure the consistency is correct before slathering on your favorite baked goods. That means letting the frosting warm after it spends time in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
It takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. This time depends on your stovetop and how strong the burner is, as well as your comfort in cooking it down.
The liquid of the butter will not brown. However, there will be little browned bits that form as the butter cooks down. This is what you’re looking for.
If no browned bits are forming, check your butter label. Margarine and vegan butter do not have milk solids and will not brown.
It will bubble and pop as the water cooks out of the butter and the milk solids brown.
It can cook too much, so keep an eye on the butter as it cooks. If you overcook it, it will taste and smell burnt, which is not what we want for this frosting.
Quick Tips and Tricks for the best Brown Butter Frosting recipe
- Double the recipe if you’re serving a crowd or like a lot of Brown Butter Icing!
- Pair it with your favorite baked goods. We love this on Spiced Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, as well as classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and so many other dishes. Have fun with it!
- How to store: Transfer the icing into an airtight food storage container. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
More recipes to use brown butter icing on:
Want to learn how to make this one? Scroll on down for ALL the details…
Browned Butter Frosting
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar 260g
- 2 tablespoons milk 33g
- A pinch of kosher salt
- Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
- Place the butter in the skillet. Let it melt.
- Moving the skillet over the heat constantly, allow the butter to brown. When the flecks of brown become more prominent in the melted butter, remove from the heat and set aside. Let it cool for a bit so it is not so hot, as this will affect the texture of the frosting.
- Measure out the powdered sugar into a large bowl.
- Pour the browned butter directly on top of the powdered sugar. Add the milk and a pinch of salt.
- Use a hand mixer or whisk to beat the frosting until it is smooth. Add more milk if the frosting is too thick.
- When the frosting reaches the desired consistency, slather on the baked goods of your choosing and enjoy!