Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

When dinner needs a little something extra, try Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce. A professional chef’s secret weapon, this nutty brown butter sauce is ready in mere minutes and works citrusy magic on fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Lemon garlic butter sauce drizzled over seared scallops.


 

This lemon butter sauce recipe is flavored with simple ingredients like fresh garlic and green herbs. It’s a simple, straight-forward pan sauce that tastes excellent over poultry, seafood, or any other protein, and you might just feel like a real chef while you make it.

Like many easy sauces, this one is ripe for your own customizations, too. Swap the garlic for a touch of minced shallot. Grate some lemon zest before squeezing the fruit for juice. Add a splash of dry white wine, a touch of heavy cream, or both, for the most spectacular creamy lemon butter sauce you’ve ever had.

Swap the parsley and thyme for your favorite fresh herbs. Basil, chervil, tarragon, and dill would all be delicious choices. Or, finish the sauce with a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for lemon garlic butter sauce.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Garlic: Or substitute minced shallots or red onion.
  • Parsley and thyme: Or substitute chopped chives, marjoram, tarragon, rosemary, dill, or almost any fresh green herb in this sauce.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Cook, swirling constantly, until butter turns dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Browning butter for lemon butter garlic sauce.
  1. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley, thyme, and lemon juice.
Lemon garlic butter sauce in a saucepan.
  1. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper). Serve immediately over scallops (shown below), shrimp, fish, or roasted vegetables.
Lemon butter sauce being drizzled onto pan-seared scallops in a black pan.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 6 tablespoons of rich sauce packed with flavor, enough for 4 servings, 1 ½ tablespoons each.
  • Storage: Store leftover sauce covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: You can make brown butter lemon sauce up to 30 minutes ahead, as long as you keep it warm. If needed, gently reheat over low heat.
  • Smaller is better: Use a small saucepan to make this sauce, instead of a wide skillet. It may be tempting to use the same pan as the fish, but it’s too big to be able to notice the butter transform. You want to be able to see the butter as it gently browns.
  • Stay at the stove: Brown butter can go from toasty to burned in seconds, so stay present, watch the heat, and keep swirling.
  • Use your nose: Beurre noisette is directly translated to “hazelnut butter.” This refers to the distinct change in aroma as the butter browns. When ready, the butter should smell nutty.
  • On shellfish: Scallops, lobster, shrimp, prawns, or crab legs. Even filled pasta, like lobster ravioli, would be unbelievable.
  • On seafood: A perfect fit. Any fresh fish you happen to bring home: salmon, cod, halibut, tuna, swordfish, tilapia, or trout, would be delicious if you sauté it in lemon butter.
  • On vegetables: Lemon sauce breathes new life into a dish of green vegetables, roasted or steamed. Think broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, or artichokes. It’s also delicious drizzled over mashed potatoes.
  • On chicken: Simple poached or grilled chicken breasts become a lot more special with homemade lemon garlic butter sauce.
  • On steak: This lemon butter garlic sauce tastes like a clarified butter with compound butter flavors. Whatever it is, it would be great on your next New York Strip or Surf and Turf (filet mignon with lobster tails).
  • On pasta: This sauce reminds me of the base for my Artichoke Pasta. Try this lemon sauce over cooked pasta for a citrus-garlic infusion. Same some pasta water for tossing with the sauce if you need some extra starch so the sauce sticks better.
Plates of lemon garlic butter sauce over seared scallops.
Pan-seared Scallops served with Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make lemon butter sauce with salted butter?

Many cooks, professional and otherwise, favor unsalted butter so they can control this salt in their finished dishes. I typically use salted butter because it’s what I have, and I taste the sauce before adjusting the seasonings.

How to make vegan lemon garlic butter?

Substitute your favorite vegan butter and make the recipe as written. I like Earth Balance original buttery spread.

More stock and sauce recipes

Join Us

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and follow along on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for our latest recipes! Tag all your glorious creations #culinaryhill so we can eat vicariously through you.
Lemon garlic butter sauce drizzled over seared scallops.

Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce

When dinner needs a little something extra, try Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce. A professional chef’s secret weapon, this nutty brown butter sauce is ready in mere minutes and works citrusy magic on fish, chicken, or vegetables.
Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings (1 ½ tbsp each)
Course Pantry
Cuisine American
Calories 106
5 from 42 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Cook, swirling constantly, until butter turns dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley, thyme, and lemon juice.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper). Serve immediately.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Garlic: Or substitute minced shallots or red onion.
  2. Parsley and thyme: Or substitute chopped chives, marjoram, tarragon, or almost any fresh green herb in this sauce.
  3. Yield: This recipe makes about 6 tablespoons of rich sauce packed with flavor, enough for 4 servings, 1 ½ tablespoons each.
  4. Storage: Store leftover sauce covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5 tbspCalories: 106kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 101mgPotassium: 21mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 434IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

Quick & Easy Meals in Under 30 Minutes!
15 simple recipes for busy weeknights.

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. I made this to coat some ricotta & lemon zest ravioli with roasted asparagus for a summery pasta and it was delicious! Next time I make shrimp or salmon, I’ll definitely pull this recipe out.5 stars