There are several notable differences between ghee and butter that may help you determine the best time to cook with each. First off, ghee has a longer shelf life than butter, and Hultin explains that it can actually be stored for up to nine months in the fridge. “Rancid ghee will have a sour smell and turn the golden hue brown. If that happens, you know it’s time to throw that jar away,” adds Knudsen.
“Because ghee is ‘clarified,’ it has a higher smoke point (485 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to butter (350 degrees Fahrenheit),” Hultin notes. Therefore, if you’re planning to cook with higher heat, you may benefit from using ghee, while baking at a lower temperature is perfectly suited for butter.
Considering the taste of each can also help inform your decision: While butter generally has a lighter and creamier flavor profile, ghee has a nuttier, more earthy flavor. “Ghee is more nutty, making it ideal for combining with spices as it is so often in traditional Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines,” suggests Hultin. Ghee also has a rich history in Ayurveda, and preparing meals with this in mind can be excellent for your gut health.