What is Drawn Butter?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Drawn butter is a condiment that is commonly served with seafood dishes. It is sometimes referred to as clarified butter and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Drawn butter is melted butter that is used as a dipping sauce for lobsters, shrimp, clams or crabs that have been steamed or boiled. Although drawn butter is made with just one ingredient, it is considered to be a sauce. Condiments that are commonly served along with drawn butter include lemon wedges, salt and pepper.

By following a few simple steps, drawn butter can be made at home. First, melt the butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat. The butter should be brought up to a slow boil. While the butter boils, it will develop a thin froth on the surface. This should be gently lifted out of the pan with a spoon and discarded.

After the butter has been allowed to boil for a few minutes, it will begin to separate. The milk solids in the butter will fall to the bottom of the pan. At this point the milk solids will begin to separate from the oil in the butter. When the oil is a clear and golden in color, the butter has been successfully drawn and is nearly ready to be removed from the pan.


Before pouring the clarified butter from the pan, allow the butter to cool just a bit. It should be poured into a heat-proof bowl. The milk solids can be separated while pouring by straining the butter through a cheese cloth. Otherwise, the milk solids can be manually removed from the clarified butter. The milk solids can be thrown away. Use a ladle or large spoon to transfer the drawn butter into small, individual serving cups.

While making drawn butter, it is important not to let the butter get too hot or it will burn and begin to brown. Some chefs, even those who only cook out of their own kitchens, like to be able to keep drawn butter warm during the meal. There are special cups for this that are designed to fit over a tea light which will keep the butter clear without causing it to brown or burn. Some chefs also like to add herbs to their drawn butter to add flavor to the meal. Herbs that are sometimes used for this purpose include parsley, cilantro, and tarragon.


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Post 2

I also like to use finely minced garlic in drawn butter. It really adds some extra flavor to the butter and consequently, to the lobster, crab or shrimp -- whatever you're dipping in the butter.

Drawn butter is a nice alternative for people who don't like cocktail sauce, but these people are frequently converted if you provide the makings for cocktail sauce and let them create their own. It's easy. All you need is a bottle of ketchup, a jar of horseradish paste, Worcestershire sauce and a bottle of hot sauce. Serve with crackers so people can test their creations. Serve cocktail sauce fixings and drawn butter, and you're the host(ess) with the most(est)!

Post 1

Making drawn butter is very easy. It's just a matter of keeping your eyes on the butter and not allowing it to burn. It takes a little patience, since you're not heating the butter over high heat. It may take 10 or 15 minutes to get the butter to the boil and get the milk solids separated.

I usually pour my butter through a fine mesh strainer. It catches the solids just fine, but cheesecloth does provide an extra layer of protection so small solids don't sneak into the drawn butter.

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