Ghee vs. Butter: Should You Use One or the Other?

Some people cite health as a reason to use ghee instead of butter

Butter is made by churning cream until fat separates from the liquid and forms a semisolid substance. Ghee is made by heating butter until the water evaporates, leaving behind milk solids. The milk solids are filtered out, leaving a clarified liquid fat known as ghee.

Although they share similar nutritional benefits, ghee may be a better alternative for those who are lactose intolerant. People enjoy cooking with ghee because it does not burn as quickly as butter.

This article discusses the similarities and differences between ghee and butter.

A stick of butter and a knife

Stephen Gibson / EyeEm / Getty Images

Ghee vs. Butter: Uses

Ghee and butter have similar benefits and unique uses. Knowing these can help you decide which one to use when cooking.


Butter has a natural smoke point of around 350 degrees F, making it a good option for cooking and baking up to this temperature. Because of its sweet, creamy taste, butter is generally preferred over ghee in recipes with mild flavors.

Ghee Instead of Butter

Ghee is versatile and can replace butter at a 1-to-1 ratio when cooking and baking. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter, use 2 tablespoons of ghee instead. You can also use ghee in place of butter on steamed vegetables or as a spread on toast.

Ghee doesn't feels creamy in the mouth like butter. It has a strong, slightly nutty taste, which may alter the flavor of your meal. It provides more moisture than butter, so you may need to adjust your recipes' flour and liquid proportions when substituting ghee for butter in a recipe.

Ghee and Lactose Intolerance

Ghee has less lactose than butter because its milk solids are removed. This may make it a better option for lactose-intolerant individuals.

Smoke Point 

Ghee has a smoke point of around 482 degrees F, much higher than butter's smoke point of 350 degrees F. It can be used for high-heat cooking, such as deep frying, grilling, roasting, and sautéeing.

There is evidence that ghee produces less acrylamide (a toxic compound that can form in foods during high-heat cooking) than vegetable oils when heated. While additional research is needed, animal studies suggest that high doses of acrylamide may increase the risk of cancer.

Ghee vs. Butter: Nutrition Profile

Ghee and butter have similar nutrient compositions, but the two have some differences.

Nutrient Profiles of Ghee vs. Butter
 Ghee Butter 
Calories 123 102
Fat 14 grams  11.5 grams
Saturated fat 8.7 grams  7.2 grams
Monounsaturated fat 4 grams 3.3 grams
Polyunsaturated fat 0.5 grams  0.5 grams
Cholesterol 35.8 milligrams  30.5 milligrams
Protein 0.4 grams 0.1 grams
Carbohydrates 0 grams 0 grams
Vitamin A 118 micrograms, 13 % of the Daily Value (DV) 97 micrograms, 11% of the DV
The values are based on 1 tablespoon each of ghee and butter.

Per tablespoon, ghee is higher in calories and fat than butter. It is also slightly higher in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for vision, immunity, growth, development, and reproduction.

Both ghee and butter contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and butyrate. CLA is a polyunsaturated fat that may help protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer, and support weight loss.

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced by bacteria in the gut when they break down fiber. Some clinical evidence suggests that butyrate may support gut health and reduce inflammation.

Is Ghee Healthier Than Butter?

Although ghee is somewhat higher in fat than butter, their nutrient profiles are very similar. There is no evidence that one is better than the other. Both can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

However, ghee and butter are high in saturated fat. Adults should limit their saturated fat intake to less than 10% of their daily calories.

Daily Butter/Ghee Allowance

If you eat 2,000 calories daily, you should consume less than 22 grams of saturated fat—or about 3 tablespoons of butter or ghee daily. A balanced approach would be to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons each day, in addition to other sources of healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish.

Ghee vs. Butter: Taste

Ghee has a buttery taste with a distinct roasted, nutty flavor. Butter has a soft, creamy, rich flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Does Ghee Taste Like Butter?

Although it has similar properties to butter, ghee has a richer, nuttier taste and is often considered a more flavorful version of butter. Use it to add a unique flavor to everything from savory dishes and casseroles to mashed potatoes and pasta.

Cooking Tips

Ghee has been used for thousands of years in Indian cooking, religious rituals, and Ayurvedic medicine. Follow these simple steps to make ghee:

  • Start by slicing 1 pound of unsalted butter into cubes and placing them into a small pot on low heat.
  • Next, melt the butter and bring it to a simmer.
  • After several minutes, a foamy white layer will begin to form. Use a spoon to skim off the foam.
  • Continue cooking on low for about 20 to 25 minutes or until you see the milk solids at the bottom of the pot.
  • When the ghee is done, remove it from the heat source and let it cool for five minutes.
  • Strain the ghee through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into an airtight glass container.


Ghee and butter have similar nutritional profiles and can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. When it comes to cooking at high heat, ghee has an advantage over butter because it has a higher smoke point. Ghee may be more suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance because it contains less lactose than butter.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the side effects of ghee?

    Ghee is high in saturated fat. Consuming too much-saturated fat can increase LDL (considered "bad") cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. During high heat production, the cholesterol in ghee may become oxidized. Cholesterol oxidation products (COPs) have been linked to several age-related diseases.

  • Who should not eat ghee?

    Individuals who have a milk allergy should avoid ghee. People with high cholesterol may also benefit from limiting their ghee consumption to no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.

  • Does ghee burn fat?

    There is no solid evidence to suggest that ghee burns fat. However, it does contain CLA, which one study found may support weight and fat loss in humans.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Lindsey DeSoto, RD, LD
Lindsey Desoto is a registered dietitian with experience working with clients to improve their diet for health-related reasons. She enjoys staying up to date on the latest research and translating nutrition science into practical eating advice to help others live healthier lives.