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Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy3,660 kJ (870 kcal)
0 g
99.5 g
Saturated61.9 g
Monounsaturated28.7 g
Polyunsaturated3.69 g
0.3 g
4 mg
0 mg
3 mg
5 mg
2 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water0.24 g
Cholesterol256 mg
Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[1] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[2]

Ghee is a type of clarified butter, originating from India.[3] It is commonly used for cooking, as a traditional medicine, and for Hindu religious rituals.[4]


Ghee is typically prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream, skimming any impurities from the surface, then pouring and retaining the clear liquid fat while discarding the solid residue that has settled to the bottom. Spices can be added for flavor. The texture, color, and taste of ghee depend on the quality of the butter, the milk used in the process, and the duration of boiling time.


The word ghee comes from Sanskrit: घृत (ghṛta-, IPA: [ɡʱr̩tɐ]) 'clarified butter', from घृ, ghṛ-, 'to sprinkle';[5] it is cognate with the Ancient Greek word χριστός (khristós, 'rubbed, anointed'), from which the English word Christ is derived.[6]

In Hinduism[edit]

Traditionally, ghee is made from bovine milk, either cow or water buffalo. Ghee has been used in rituals since the Vedic period and it is a sacred requirement in Vedic yajña and homa (fire rituals), through the medium of Agni (fire) to offer oblations to various deities (See: Yajurveda).

Fire rituals are utilized for ceremonies such as marriage and funerals. Ghee is required in Vedic worship of mūrtis (divine deities), with aarti (offering of ghee lamp) called diyā or dīpa and for Pañcāmṛta (Panchamruta) where ghee along with mishri, honey, milk, and dahi (curd) is used for bathing the deities on the appearance day of Krishna on Janmashtami, Śiva (Shiva) on Mahā-śivarātrī (Maha Shivaratri). There is a hymn to ghee.[7] In the Mahabharata, the Kaurava were born from pots of ghee.[8]

Ghee is also used in bhang in order to heat the cannabis to cause decarboxylation, making the drink psychoactive.[9][10]

In Buddhist scripture, stages of dairy production are used as metaphors for stages of enlightenment. The highest-stage product, sarpir-maṇḍa, is theorised to be ghee or clarified butter.[11]

Culinary uses[edit]

Ghee is common in cuisines from the Indian subcontinent, including traditional rice preparations (such as biryani). In Maharashtra, polis or Indian flatbreads are accompanied with ghee. For example, 'Puranpoli', a typical Maharashtrian dish is eaten with much ghee. In Rajasthan, ghee often accompanies baati. All over North India, ghee tops roti. In Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, ghee tops dosa, and kesari bhath. In Bengal (both West Bengal and Bangladesh) and Gujarat, khichdi is a traditional evening meal of rice with lentils, cooked in a curry made from dahi (yogurt), cumin seeds, curry leaves, cornflour, turmeric, garlic, salt and ghee. It is also an ingredient in kadhi and Indian sweets, such as Mysore pak, and varieties of halva and laddu. Indian restaurants typically incorporate large amounts of ghee, sometimes brushing naan and roti with it, either during preparation or just before serving. In the state of Odisha ghee is widely used in regional Odia cuisines such as Khechedi and Dalma. Particularly the satwik type of food prepared in most temples in Odisha uses ghee as a major ingredient in their culinary tradition. Ghee is widely used in South Indian cuisine for tempering curries and in the preparation of rice dishes and sweets. South Indians have a habit of adding ghee to their rice before eating it with pickles and curries. South Indians are among the biggest consumers of ghee. The people from Andhra Pradesh especially use ghee for the preparation of savoury and sweet dishes alike. Ghee is important to traditional North Indian cuisine, with parathas, daals and curries often using ghee instead of oil for a richer taste. The type of ghee, in terms of animal source, tends to vary with the dish; for example, ghee prepared from cow's milk (Bengali: গাওয়া ঘী, gaoa ghi) is traditional with rice or roti or as a finishing drizzle atop a curry or daal (lentils) whereas buffalo-milk ghee is more typical for general cooking purposes.

Ghee is an ideal fat for deep frying because its smoke point (where its molecules begin to break down) is 250 °C (482 °F), which is well above typical cooking temperatures of around 200 °C (392 °F) and above that of most vegetable oils.[12]


The main flavor components of ghee are carbonyls, free fatty acids, lactones, and alcohols.[13] Along with the flavor of milk fat, the ripening of the butter and the temperature at which it is clarified also affect the flavor. For example, ghee produced by the clarification of butter at 100 °C (212 °F) or less results in a rich and mild flavor, whereas batches produced at 120 °C (248 °F) produce a strong flavor.[13]

Differences from clarified butter[edit]

Ghee differs slightly in its production from that of clarified butter. The process of creating clarified butter is complete once the water is evaporated and the fat (clarified butter) is separated from the milk solids. However, the production of ghee includes simmering the butter, which makes it nutty-tasting and aromatic.[14][15][16][17]

A traditional Ayurvedic recipe for ghee is to boil raw milk and let it cool to 43 °C (109 °F). After leaving it covered at room temperature for around 12 hours, add a bit of dahi (yogurt) to it and leave it overnight. This makes more yogurt. This is churned with water, to obtain cultured butter, which is used to simmer into ghee.[18]

Nutrition and health[edit]

Like any clarified butter, ghee is composed almost entirely of fat, 62% of which consists of saturated fats.[19] Most commercial preparations in India were also found to contain significant amounts of trans fats.[20] It has negligible amounts of lactose and casein and is, therefore, acceptable to most people who have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy.[21][22]

There are mixed opinions about whether ghee consumption is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.[23][24][better source needed] The British Dietetic Association, British Nutrition Foundation, National Health Service, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and World Health Organization advise people to limit ghee consumption due to its high saturated fat content.[25][26][27][28][29]

Preparation methods[edit]

There are five common methods through which ghee is prepared. Industrial preparation on the other hand is done by using "white butter", usually sourced from other dairies and contractors.[30]

In the cream butter method, cream separated from milk must be churned to produced butter. The butter then undergoes heat clarification.
In the cream butter method, cream is separated from milk and churned to produce butter. The butter then undergoes heat clarification.

Milk butter[edit]

Sour raw milk is churned into butter. The butter is boiled in an open pan to allow the water to evaporate. The hot ghee is transferred and stored.

Direct cream[edit]

Fresh cream, cultured or washed cream is directly converted to ghee. This method requires a long heating time and produces a caramelized flavor.

Cream butter[edit]

Milk is separated into cream which is then churned into butter. The butter undergoes heat clarification to produce ghee.


This method is suitable for large quantities of butter. Butter is melted at 80–85 °C (176–185 °F) for 30 minutes. Layers of protein particles, fat and buttermilk are induced. The buttermilk is drained out. The remaining layers of fat are heated to a temperature of 110 °C (230 °F) to remove moisture and develop flavor.[31]


Ghee may be packaged in airtight glass jars and stored without refrigeration.

Ghee is generally found to be packaged in airtight glass jars. They should be kept away from direct sunlight as sunlight can cause moisture to build inside the jar. Moisture can cause deterioration to the ghee's quality as well as reduce its shelf life. To prevent the acceleration of the oxidation process, they should be protected from anything that causes it, such as UV rays from sunlight and fluorescent lights. If the jar is unopened, it does not need to be refrigerated as long as the previously mentioned conditions are met. Once opened, they can be stored in a kitchen cabinet for up to three months. Afterwards, it may be left in the refrigerator for up to a year. The refrigerator causes ghee to harden but if it is left at room temperature for a while, it will soften up again.[32]


Ghee may be made of milk from various domesticated ungulates, such as cows, buffaloes and sheep.[33] The composition of ghee varies depending on the animal whose milk has been used. The vitamin A content ranged from 315 to 375 μg per 100 grams.[33] Palmitic acid and oleic acid were two of the main fatty acids found in both cow and sheep ghee. The saturated fatty acid profile was 53.9 to 66.8%, the unsaturated fatty acid profile was 22.8 to 38.0% and the other fatty acids was 3.5 to 10.4%.[33] Cholesterol amounts ranged from 252 to 284 mg/100 grams.[33]


The market size of ghee in India is 10,000 crore rupees[16] or US$1.5 billion as of 2016. India is the world's largest producer of buffalo and cow milk and consequently also the largest producer and consumer of ghee.[34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". FDA. Archived from the original on 27 March 2024. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  2. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154. Archived from the original on 9 May 2024. Retrieved 21 June 2024.
  3. ^ "Perspective | Ghee has been an Indian staple for millennia. Now the rest of the world is catching on". Washington Post. 28 October 2021. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 22 March 2024. Ghee originated in India, where the heat was not conducive to storing butter for long periods
  4. ^ "Perspective | Ghee has been an Indian staple for millennia. Now the rest of the world is catching on". Washington Post. 28 October 2021. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 22 March 2024. ghee is poured into sacred fires by Hindus to this day, a practice thought to be auspicious for marriages, funerals and other ceremonies.
  5. ^ as contrasted with नवनीत, navanīta 'fresh butter': Carl Darling Buck, A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages, 1949, reprinted 1992 ISBN 0226079376, p. 399, §5.89 'Butter'
  6. ^ Tarek I Kakhia. Encyclopedia of Oils and Fats (PDF). pp. 194–195. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 November 2023. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  7. ^ Language and Style of the Vedic Rsis, Tatyana Jakovlevna Elizarenkova (C) 1995, p. 18.
  8. ^ Fitzgerald, James L.; Adrianus, Johannes; Buitenen, Bernardus (15 February 2003). The Mahabharata, Volume 7: Book 11: The Book of the Women Book 12 ..., Part 1. University of Chicago Press. p. 613. ISBN 9780226252506.
  9. ^ Gottlieb, Adam (1993). Cooking with Cannabis: The Most Effective Methods of Preparing Food and Drink with Marijuana, Hashish, and Hash Oil. Ronin Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-914171-55-3.
  10. ^ Drake, Bill (2002). The Marijuana Food Handbook. Ronin Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-914171-99-7.
  11. ^ Petzold, Bruno (1995). The Classification of Buddhism. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 9783447033732.
  12. ^ "What are the advantages and disadvantages of butter and ghee when it comes to cooking?". whfoods.com. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  13. ^ a b Rama Murthy, M.K. (1980). "Factors Affecting the Composition, Flavour and Textural Properties of Ghee" (PDF). Indian Dairyman. 32: 765–768. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  14. ^ Landis, Denise (2003). All About Ghee Archived 20 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine New York Times - Food Chain
  15. ^ Iyer, Raghavan (2008). 660 Curries, p. 21. New York: Workman Publishing ISBN 978-0-7611-3787-0
  16. ^ a b Jaffrey, Madhur (1982). Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, p. 211. London: BBC Books. ISBN 0-8120-6548-4
  17. ^ Sahni, Julie (1998). Julie Sahni's Introduction to Indian Cooking, p. 217 under "usli ghee." Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-976-8
  18. ^ Joshi, KS (2014). "Docosahexaenoic acid content is significantly higher in ghrita prepared by traditional Ayurvedic method". J Ayurveda Integr Med. 5 (2): 85–88. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.131730. PMC 4061595. PMID 24948858.
  19. ^ "Nutrition data for Butter oil, anhydrous (ghee) per 100 gram reference amount". US Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database. May 2016. Archived from the original on 23 May 2023. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  20. ^ Mahapatra, Deepti (18 October 2010). "Evaluation of trans fatty acids contents in commercial brands of ghee available at Indian markets". Scientific Research and Essays. 5 (20): 3193–3200.
  21. ^ Heid, Markham (22 April 2019). "Is Ghee Healthy? Here's What the Science Says". Time. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  22. ^ Abarbanel, Aliza (5 April 2018). "What Is Ghee, the Clarified Butter We Could Eat by the Spoon?". Bon Appétit. Archived from the original on 10 April 2021. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Ghee from Maharishi Ayur-Ved" Archived 2 October 2023 at the Wayback Machine. quackwatch.org. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  24. ^ Heid, Markham (22 April 2019). "Is Ghee Healthy? Here's What the Science Says". TIME. Retrieved 17 June 2024.
  25. ^ "Top tips for good heart health" Archived 16 October 2023 at the Wayback Machine. nutrition.org.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  26. ^ "Prevention" Archived 26 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine. nhs.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  27. ^ "Heart Health" Archived 31 October 2023 at the Wayback Machine. bda.uk.com. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  28. ^ "Dietary fats, oils and cholesterol" Archived 25 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine. heartandstroke.ca. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  29. ^ "Limit fat, salt and sugar intake" Archived 31 October 2023 at the Wayback Machine. emro.who.int. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  30. ^ Narain, Priyanka Pathak (2017). Godman To Tycoon: The untold story of Baba Ramdev (2 ed.). New Delhi: Juggernaut Publications. ISBN 978-9386228383.
  31. ^ L. Sserunjogi, Mohammed; Abrahamsen, Roger; Narvhus, Judith (1 August 1998). "A Review Paper: Current Knowledge of Ghee and Related Products". International Dairy Journal. 8 (8): 677–688. doi:10.1016/S0958-6946(98)00106-X.
  32. ^ "Ghee Care". Goddess Ghee. Archived from the original on 11 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  33. ^ a b c d AbdulrhmanAl-Khalifah, HassanAl-Kahtani (1 January 1993). "Composition of ghee (Samn Barri's) from cow's and sheep's milk". Food Chemistry. 46 (4): 373–375. doi:10.1016/0308-8146(93)90007-3. ISSN 0308-8146.
  34. ^ "Milk in India: a popular refreshment, a huge business and a gift from the gods". Associated Press. 27 October 2015. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020 – via Fox News.
  35. ^ "Delhi's tax free budget: Desi ghee to cost less in Delhi". timesofindia-economictimes. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.