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Clarified Butter vs. Ghee — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 16, 2024
Clarified butter is butter that has been melted to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat, while ghee is a type of clarified butter cooked longer until the milk solids caramelize, giving it a distinct flavor.
Clarified Butter vs. Ghee — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Clarified Butter and Ghee


Key Differences

Preparation Process: Clarified butter is made by gently melting butter and removing the milk solids and water. Ghee goes a step further, where the butter is simmered until the milk solids caramelize and separate, resulting in a nuttier flavor and deeper color.
Flavor Profile: Clarified butter has a more subtle, buttery flavor compared to regular butter. Ghee has a richer, more robust nutty flavor due to the caramelization of the milk solids.
Cooking Properties: Both have a higher smoke point than regular butter, making them suitable for high-heat cooking. However, ghee has a slightly higher smoke point than clarified butter.
Shelf Stability: Ghee has a longer shelf life than clarified butter due to the complete removal of water and milk solids, making it less prone to spoilage.
Cultural Significance: Clarified butter is used in various cuisines for its rich flavor and high smoke point. Ghee holds a significant place in Indian cuisine and Ayurveda for its culinary and medicinal properties.

Comparison Chart


Milk solids and water removed
Simmered until milk solids caramelize


Subtle, buttery
Rich, nutty

Smoke Point

Higher than regular butter
Higher than clarified butter

Shelf Life

Longer than butter, shorter than ghee
Very long due to no water content

Cultural Use

Used in various cuisines
Central in Indian cuisine and Ayurveda

Compare with Definitions

Clarified Butter

Has a higher smoke point than regular butter.
Clarified butter is great for frying due to its high smoke point.


A form of clarified butter that is simmered longer for a nutty flavor.
I use ghee for its rich, nutty flavor in my dishes.

Clarified Butter

Suitable for people with mild lactose sensitivities.
I prefer clarified butter as it's lower in lactose.


Suitable for those on a lactose-free diet.
Ghee is my go-to dairy alternative due to its low lactose content.

Clarified Butter

Commonly used in baking and cooking for its purity.
I always use clarified butter for my baking recipes for a clean buttery flavor.


Longer shelf life due to the absence of water and milk solids.
I store ghee at room temperature for several months.

Clarified Butter

Butter that has been melted and strained to remove water and milk solids.
I use clarified butter for sautéing vegetables.


Integral in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic practices.
Ghee is a staple in my Indian recipes.

Clarified Butter

Offers a subtle, richer flavor compared to unprocessed butter.
Clarified butter adds a rich taste to my pasta sauce.


Has an even higher smoke point than clarified butter.
Ghee is perfect for high-temperature cooking.


A clarified semifluid butter used especially in South Asian cooking.


A type of clarified butter used in South Asian cooking; usli ghee.


(South Asia) Vegetable oil for cooking.


Butter clarified by boiling, and thus converted into a kind of oil.


Clarified butter used in Indian cookery

Common Curiosities

What is clarified butter?

Clarified butter is butter that's been melted to remove the milk solids and water.

Can I use clarified butter and ghee interchangeably?

Yes, but ghee will add a nuttier flavor to dishes.

Is ghee healthier than clarified butter?

Both are similar in health aspects, though ghee has slightly less lactose.

How is ghee different from clarified butter?

Ghee is cooked longer until the milk solids caramelize, giving it a unique flavor.

How long can I store ghee?

Ghee can be stored at room temperature for several months, even up to a year.

What dishes are best with clarified butter?

It's great for sautéing, baking, and as a topping for seafood or vegetables.

Why is ghee so important in Indian cuisine?

Ghee is valued for its flavor, health benefits, and cultural significance in Indian cuisine.

Is ghee vegan?

No, ghee is made from butter, which is a dairy product.

Can lactose-intolerant individuals consume ghee or clarified butter?

Yes, both have minimal lactose and are generally safe for lactose-intolerant individuals.

Does ghee contain cholesterol?

Yes, like all dairy products, ghee contains cholesterol.

Do clarified butter and ghee have the same smoke point?

Ghee has a slightly higher smoke point than clarified butter.

Are there any preservatives in ghee or clarified butter?

Generally, no preservatives are needed due to their low moisture content.

Can I make clarified butter or ghee at home?

Yes, both can be made at home by melting and simmering butter.

Is clarified butter suitable for frying?

Yes, its high smoke point makes it suitable for frying.

Can I use ghee for baking?

Yes, ghee can be used in baking for a rich, nutty flavor.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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