How to Make Smen - Moroccan Preserved Butter

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Smen - Moroccan Preserved Butter. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
  • 55 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 lb smen (32 servings)
Ratings (4)

The Moroccan preserved butter known as has more of a cheesy taste than a butter flavor. It is often added to tagine recipes as well as many other traditional Moroccan dishes, but is also enjoyed simply spread on bread. A small amount of smen included in a dish will lend a distinct flavor that can't be replicated by a substitute ingredient. 

Before proceeding with the recipe, make sure you have some cheesecloth and a clean glass or ceramic jar on hand for the smen. And don't plan to use it immediately--although very easy to make, the smen will need to sit a month or longer for the characteristic flavor to develop; the longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be.

Smen can be made plain from salted clarified butter, as in this recipe, or flavored with herbs such as in Smen with Thyme or Oregano

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound/500 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

How to Make It

  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Increase the heat and bring the melted butter to a simmer. Simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the milk solids on the bottom of the pot have turned a light amber.
  2. Place a piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and carefully pour the clarified butter (not the solids) through a cheesecloth. Repeat this straining several times if necessary to remove all traces of milk solids. You want only perfectly clear clarified butter for smen.
  1. Stir the salt into the strained clarified butter, then pour it into a jar. Cover, and store in a cool, dark place (a cupboard is fine) for a month or longer.
  2. After opening, store the smen in the refrigerator.