I'm a big fan of farmer's markets. It was at a farmers market last summer that my mom bought ghee for the first time. My mom made everything with ghee. From homemade croutons to sautéed vegetables to grilled cheese, ghee is now a part of our lives. At the time, I had no idea about ghee and the differences between ghee vs butter. But what exactly is this mystery that helped produce some of the best grilled cheeses I've ever had?

What is ghee?

beer, coffee, tea
Maddy McGunagle

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that is traditionally used in Indian cooking. Not used only for cooking, ghee is often used for natural home remedies to treat burns, swelling, and pain. Ghee has a nuttier flavor, which is a direct result of the browning of the butter that is vital to the creation of the substance. Ghee has a high saturated fat content but has low levels of lactose and milk protein. 

What is butter?

butter, margarine
Hunter Siegrist

What an odd question, am I right? What is that thing that you put on toast every morning or use to bake cookies? Butter is a dairy product that is often served cold made from separated butterfat. It is generally used as a spread or as a cooking supplement.

Benefits of ghee

Maddy McGunagle

Ghee has been found to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and those who eat more ghee had fewer cases of heart disease. This is because ghee helps protect the arteries from hardening.

Butter has been known to lead to a rise in the same LDL cholesterol, which is the unhealthy type of cholesterol. Ghee is also rich in butyrate, which decreases inflammation and helps to improve the digestive system. Ghee is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K and also has low levels of lactose, which is beneficial for those with lactose sensitivity. 

Nutritional value

butter, milk, dairy product, margarine, cheese, cream, spread, dairy
Antonia Drummond

For one tablespoon of butter, there are 102 calories, .1 gram of protein, 11.5 grams of fat, and 7.3 grams of saturated fat. For the same amount of ghee, there are 112 calories, .04 grams of protein, 12.73 grams of fat and 7.9 grams of saturated fat. 

Creation process

milk, cheese, butter, dairy product, sweet, dairy, margarine
Caty Schnack

Ghee is derived from butter where the pure butterfat is cooked longer. The moisture is removed in the process and the milk solids are caramelized and then filtered out. Ghee simmers longer than any other clarified butter, which gives it a nutty flavor. 

Butter is made with fat from raw cow's milk that has been separated from the rest of the liquid. The fat, called butter cream, is pasteurized and then churned to create a butter. In the process, the butter solid is separated from excess liquid, called buttermilk, which is the milk used in ice cream. The butter is only ready after churning for over an hour and salt is added.

Is ghee healthier for you?

coffee, tea, chocolate
Maddy McGunagle

While ghee may help protect arteries, it does have higher levels of fat and unsaturated fat than butter. Ghee is also good for people with dairy sensitivity who cannot eat regular butter. 

In the ghee vs butter showdown, both win. While both spreads have their benefits and their downfalls, they are both vital for cooking. It's especially good for homemade croutons and amazing grilled cheese.