Summer is in full swing, and the temperatures are soaring. On the hottest days of summer, we prefer keeping the heat outdoors by firing up the grill. We know there's one ingredient that can take dinner from average to chef’s-kiss good – butter. Its rich, creamy taste elevates grilled dishes and is a simple way to bring big flavor to your dishes.
Grilling with butter can be a bit tricky due to its low smoke point. The smoke point of fats and oils is the temperature where it starts to smoke and gives your food a burnt flavor. Butter’s smoke point is relatively low, around 300°F. There are a few reasons for this.
First, butter is not a pure fat – at a minimum our butter is 83% fat, with the remainder being water and milk solids. When you heat butter, the water content quickly evaporates – that's what causes the crackling and sputtering sounds you hear. The milk solids – which bring the rich, creamy flavor, are the component that causes butter to brown and acquire a nutty flavor. However, as the temperature rises above 300°F, the milk solids will start to smoke and eventually burn.
Secondly, butter is high in saturated and monounsaturated fats, but it also contains a fair amount of polyunsaturated fats, which have lower smoke points. The blend of different types of fats in butter also contributes to its lower smoke point.
The lower smoke point of butter may have you questioning if it’s the right ingredient for grilling. Don't worry, we've got your back. Here are some tips to help you master the art of grilling with butter.
- Baste It
To get that heavenly buttery flavor all over your food, basting is your best friend. It helps you evenly spread the butter and control the amount you're using. Too much butter can cause flare-ups on your grill, so keep it under control with a good basting brush. Try this with our Butter Basted Brat recipe!
- Time It
Since the milk solids in butter can burn quickly at high temperatures, it's best to add butter towards the end of your grilling. So, hold off on the butter basting until the last few minutes of cooking. We like to add cold butter to help slowly melt it. Your taste buds will thank you for the creamy finish.
- Get Saucy
A great way to add more depth of flavor while protecting the butter from burning is to mix it into a marinade or basting sauce. Blend your butter with herbs, spices, or citrus juices. These not only prevent the butter from burning but also infuse your dish with exciting flavors. We have a Butter Barbecue Sauce recipe for you!
- Be Indirect
When butter is in the game, indirect heat is the way to go. Place your food off to the side of the heat source rather than directly on top of it. This helps avoid any flare-ups caused by dripping butter and keeps your food from getting too crispy too fast.
- Find a Buddy
If you're set on grilling with butter right from the start, try pairing it with an oil that has a higher smoke point. Oils like avocado or canola can withstand higher temperatures and help to keep the butter from burning. Avocado and canola oil have a neutral flavor that won’t compete with the flavor of butter.
- Quality Matters
Last, and maybe most importantly, choose a high-quality butter for grilling. Our artisan butters can handle the heat of the grill better and provide a more luxurious taste to your food. Our flavored butters take the guess work out finding the right seasonings too. Use our signature butter to finish on the top of your steak or melt it into your fresh picked garden vegetables. Sweet cinnamon butter is perfect on grilled pineapple, peaches and apricots. We also love a simple and light dessert of slicing an apple thinly and wrapping it in a foil packet with a dollop of sweet cinnamon butter. Set it to the side of the grill over indirect heat while you grill your entrée and dessert is done with almost no effort.
Grilling with butter may require a bit more attention, but the results are always a hit with the taste buds. Happy grilling!