There’s been a lot of conversation recently about cooking with oil and butter. Among the concerns is fat content. Some fats actually have health benefits but others, like saturated and trans fats, can have negative effects on your body.

Butter is generally considered a condiment and often used for sauteing or frying, but it is high in saturated fat with about 7 grams per tablespoon. Clarified butter, also known as ghee, is a popular alternative because of suggested healing properties.

What is ghee?
Ghee is the liquid that is left over when butter is melted over heat. It is considered pure (or clarified) because there are no preservatives such as milk solids. Ghee is also easy to make. All you need to do is purchase unsalted butter sticks, heat them in a saucepan until boiling, and adjust heat accordingly to maintain a slight ongoing boil.

Skim off the condensed foam that appears on the top and once you hear a frying oil sound (usually about 15 minutes), remove the saucepan from heat. Let it cool and then pour the clarified butter, now ghee, into a glass container. The remaining residue is considered milk solids and can also be used in food preparation.

Why you should cook with ghee
Well, let’s be real here – the flavor of pure saturated fat is likely going to be delicious! Using ghee yields the same results as oil and butter, but with a richer flavor. Ghee may also be a healthier alternative to butter fat, which can sometimes contain pesticide residues from cattle feed. Cooking with ghee requires only half the amount of oil the recipe calls for – a 1/2 cup of ghee instead of 1 cup of oil, for example.

Benefits of ghee
Based on Ayurvedic principles, ghee promotes anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities because it contains butyric acid, which is a fatty acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties that is also believed to be helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Rudolph Ballentine, author of Transition to Vegetarianism, ghee is also known to enhance the nutritional value of foods because it is made in pure form. On the flip side, ghee is a saturated fat and there are plenty of studies showing an increase in overall cholesterol levels with an increased consumption of saturated fats. As a result, consume ghee in moderation and be cognizant about its use when cooking.

Cooking with ghee
Try ghee out for yourself! Make it following the instructions above and then use it in a recipe, like my homemade Indian Keema ground turkey.


  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tray 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons water


  • Chop the onions and sauté in a saucepan with the ghee until browned.
  • Add the ground turkey, salt to taste, curry powder and soy sauce to the onions, and mix and separate the ingredients so that the turkey is as fine as possible.
  • Stir until mixture is blended.
  • Add the tomato paste along with water, and continue to cook everything on medium to low heat, mixing often, for about 10 minutes or until meat is cooked.

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Anita Mirchandani, M.S, R.D, C.D.N received a Bachelor of Arts and then a Master of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University, and completed a dietetic internship at New York-Presbyterian hospital in 2011. She is now a practicing registered dietitian and recently co-founded FitMapped, a free ‘GPS for fitness’ concept that helps users find fitness easily and connect with fellow enthusiasts. Follow her @FitNutAnita for interesting updates of fitness and nutrition.