Ghee vs. Butter: How are They Different and Which is Healthier?
Article at a Glance
- Ghee has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic therapies and Indian cooking.
- Ghee and butter are both made from cow’s milk.
- Ghee is highly clairified butter with a nutty, earthy flavor.
- Both butter and ghee contain butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid that has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and promote gut health.
- Ghee may be easier to digest than butter for those with sensitivities to milk sugars and/or proteins.
- Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter.
- You can make ghee at home from unsalted butter.
Let’s just cut to the chase: Ghee is better than butter for sautéing since it has a higher smoke point and won’t burn as easily. Ghee is also preferable to butter for people with lactose intolerance since it’s made by removing milk solids. However, butter has slightly less saturated fat than ghee. It’s official — butter is back. Seriously, there’s a study on it called Is Butter Back. After a rough go in the 90’s with all the low fat diets, butter has finally redeemed itself from villian-hood and is again recognized as a relatively healthy fat option when consumed in moderation. But it’s not back alone. Along with butter came its funky companion: ghee. Ghee is also having a moment in the healthy fat department. While it may be new to the Western scene, ghee is anything but new. For thousands of years, ghee has been used in Ayurvedic therapies and Indian cooking. Despite its recent rise in Western popularity, many people are still unsure exactly what ghee is. So let’s break it down and look at the positives and negatives of incorporating more ghee (and butter) into your diet. Then we’ll put ghee and butter in the ring and watch them punch it out. Who wins? First, let’s find some common ground.
How are ghee and butter the same?Ghee and butter are both made from cow’s milk. In fact, butter is a precursor to ghee, so it’s no wonder the two get so easily confused. Because they come from the same source, their nutritional profiles don’t vary wildly. They’re both composed of mostly fat, lending to their smooth and creamy textures.
How are ghee and butter different?While they share similarities, ghee and butter are not one and the same. Rather, ghee is a type of butter — specifically, it is highly clarified butter. It goes through a process to remove some of the milk solids and water. This process makes for a shelf stable product that doesn’t require refrigeration. It also gives ghee a higher smoke point than regular butter and adds a nutty, enhanced flavor that you won’t find in regular butter. If you’re concerned about cooking in easily damaged fats, ghee is a better choice than butter. Butter has a smoke point of 350°F (177°C), but ghee can take heat of up to 485°F (252°C) without burning. The higher smoke point and lower protein count means ghee won’t damage when you cook with it like butter will. As such, it’s a healthier option for the sauté pan.
Ghee vs. butter fat content
|3g saturated fat in one tbsp.||2.5g saturated fat in one tbsp.|
|0 g carbs||0 g carbs|
|Fat 5 g||Fat 4.1 g|
|Higher smoke point||Lower smoke point|