The One Ingredient That'll Make This Christmas the Best One Yet

It's rich, silky, and requires nothing but a saucepan.

close up on a plate of butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce
Photo: Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

As you plan and prepare for the perfect Christmas meal, consider a secret ingredient that's as elegant as it is accessible: brown butter. Also known as beurre noisette, brown butter is wondrously fragrant, rich, nutty, and chock-full of flavor. Try it drizzled over cinnamon buns, baked into bread, or drizzled over roasted root veggies; you can't go wrong with the deliciously deep taste and adaptability, especially during the holiday season.

All you'll need to make this silky, golden-brown substance are a stove, light-colored saucepan, and a stick or two of unsalted butter. Cube your butter before cooking gently over medium heat, swirling occasionally to encourage even browning. When the mixture takes on a deep color and nutty aroma, it's time to pour into a separate heat-proof bowl and explore the endless opportunities that await.

We've compiled brown butter recipes that are perfect for zhuzhing up your holiday menu with ease. The irresistibly decadent flavor amps up Christmas classics that the whole family will love, along with new dishes that just may forge the path for new traditions:

Beef Tenderloin with Ginger-Shiitake Brown Butter

beef tenderloin with buttery ginger mushroom sauce

This wonderfully savory beef tenderloin recipe combines brown butter, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms for a standout holiday meal. Special occasion-worthy filet mignon steaks are seared to perfection before being swaddled in a luscious brown butter sauce. "Incredible," says reviewer Grandpop. "What an awesome way to enjoy the steak. Did this with roasted new potatoes and spicy green beans. Red wine. Life is good."

Get the recipe: Beef Tenderloin with Ginger-Shiitake Brown Butter

Spiralized Brown Butter Sage Sweet Potato

Spiralized Brown Butter Sage Sweet Potato topped with sage leaves
Buckwheat Queen

Sweet potatoes are a must-have for the holiday table. Lean into the deliciously wholesome flavor of everyone's favorite root veggie with this savory side dish. Fresh sage leaves are cooked along with the brown butter, resulting in a crisp finish that's bound to impress. Use a spiralizer for a tender bite and extra festive flair.

Get the recipe: Spiralized Brown Butter Sage Sweet Potato

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

close up on a plate of butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce
Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Expecting vegetarian guests this Christmas? No problem. Serve up a saucy ravioli dish that inspires holiday cheer in herbivores and meat-eaters alike. Homemade pasta holds a squash and ricotta filling bursting with satisfying flavor. Finish things off with Parmesan cheese and fried sage for restaurant-worthy entree.

Get the Recipe: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Brown Butter

roasted cauliflower with capers
France C

A celebratory meal is measured by its side dishes, and this 5-star cauliflower recipe is guaranteed to rise to the occasion. "Turn boring cauliflower into a delicious side when you top it with a caper and garlic brown butter, says recipe creator and Allstar France C. "I like to cut my cauliflower into slices instead of florets, so there is more flat surface area for roasting and the topping doesn't slide off."

Get the Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Brown Butter

Tarragon Walnut Brown Butter Sauce

Tarragon Walnut Brown Butter Sauce
Tarragon Walnut Brown Butter Sauce |.

Use this all-purpose sauce to add a mouthwatering spark to any protein. Fresh squeezed lemon juice and sweet, peppery tarragon are the perfect partners for brown butter — pour over fish, roasted chicken, or pasta for a sumptuous holiday experience.

Get the Recipe: Tarragon Walnut Brown Butter Sauce

Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Mini Pound Cakes

9439998-Brown-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Mini-Pound-Cakes-Kim-3x2
Kim

Serve everyone their own chocolatey Christmastime dessert using Allstar Kim's adorable mini pound cake recipe. Delicious as is or frosted with a simple glaze, this cake boasts brown butter and sour cream that gives it a supremely moist texture. "I used a mini bundt maker gadget and they turned out great," shares home cook Kerri. "Frosted with a whipped cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips and red dusting sugar."

Get the Recipe: Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Mini Pound Cakes

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting
Traci Noche

Hundreds of home cooks agree — these decadently frosted banana bread bars are 5-star material. Add this soft, sweet, and creamy treat to your Christmas spread and prepare for applause. Brown butter amplifies the banana flavor in every bite for an unforgettable dessert course.

Get the Recipe: Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

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