Ghee and Clarified Butter – What’s the Difference?

ghee and clarified butter storage differences

Ghee and clarified butter… are they the same?

Often when purchasing ghee you will notice the term ‘clarified butter’ on the product label.  This can be confusing for shoppers.

So are they the same thing? No, they are not, and unfortunately the term, and the confusion it causes, can cause shoppers looking for pure ghee (and the unique medicinal properties it provides) mistakenly purchase clarified butter by mistake.

So how do they differ?  Here’s a quick list.

1. The process of how ghee and clarified butter is made

Butter during the transformation process at one stage, is clarified butter but it does not stop there.  Ghee cooking is one step further and making authentic ghee is more complex than simply boiling butter.  Correctly made, ghee has many medicinal values aside from its high smoking point and culinary uses.

2. Ghee has a higher smoking point
Butter has a smoking point of 350°F (177°C), Clarified butter has a smoking point of 250°F (121°C), and Ghee has an incredibly high smoking point of 485°F (252°C). That’s over 100 more than other oils like canola and coconut oils!  This makes ghee an incredible asset in your pantry. (click here for a super handy chart of different smoking points)

3. Shelf life and storage.
Due to the increased cooking time and the removal of lactose, casein, and moisture ghee has a longer shelf life than clarified butter. Ghee will store indefinitely whereas you are best to keep clarified butter in the fridge. Any butter left out on the kitchen bench for too long will quickly become rancid.

4. Ghee has a distinct flavour profile.

Ghee has a signature taste.  It is warm, toasty caramelised, with overtones of butterscotch.  Clarified butter has it’s own taste too.  They are different.

5. Milk solids – to ghee or not to ghee.

Ghee is ghee because all the milk solids have been removed. Clarified butter is not guaranteed to have all the milk solids removed.


Consider this. You have beef and lamb;  both are meat and completely different – yet kind of the same.  It’s the same in this scenario – both are heated butter – but they are completely different – yet kind of the same.

Are you confused yet ?