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Recipe: Brown Butter Parmesan Pasta

Add brown butter to any recipe and you’re in for a real treat.

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Photos by Joe Lingeman

There is something eternally satisfying and soothing about buttered pasta. Toss warm strands of spaghetti with a pat of rich butter and a sprinkle of grated Parm and you’ve got an ultra-comforting meal that comes together in minutes. Use that as inspiration, then up the ante with nutty brown butter, golden toasted panko, and a double dose of cheese and you’ve got a comforting dish that’s fancy enough for when friends pop over.

Brown Butter Instantly Makes Pasta Night Feel Fancy

Add brown butter to any recipe, from vegetables to vinaigrette to cookies, and you know you’re in for a real treat. Here it’s cooked down over low heat on the stovetop until the milk solids caramelize into a nutty sweetness to turn a basic pot of weeknight spaghetti into a meal that tastes totally luxurious. And if that wasn’t enough to win you over, it comes together with a short list of pantry staples in about 20 minutes.

Brown Butter Parmesan Pasta

Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions until just barely al dente. Drain the pasta; set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat until foaming. Add the panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

  3. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in the same skillet over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon so that it melts evenly. Once the butter begins to foam and form brown bits, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the butter is browned with a nutty aroma. Remove the skillet from the heat.

  4. Add the pasta and Parmesan to the skillet and use tongs to toss together until the pasta is evenly coated with the brown butter and cheese. Add the reserved panko, lemon juice, and parsley and toss to combine.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Kelli Foster is the Food Editor for Plan & Prep content for Kitchn. She's a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and author of the cookbooks, The Probiotic Kitchen, Buddha Bowls, and Everyday Freekeh Meals.

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This post originally appeared on The Kitchn and was published August 22, 2017. This article is republished here with permission.

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