This luxurious, creamy garlic lemon butter sauce is the perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood, chicken and pasta. It’s simple, yet decadent—a little bit of this sauce goes a long way. The acidic lemon zest and juice cut through the rich butter while fresh chives add both something fresh and savory.
Based off of the classic French beurre blanc sauce, this lemony version is ideal for fish and seafood. With a few more ingredients than a beurre blanc, our garlic lemon butter sauce still has the dreamy qualities of a beurre blanc; silky, decadent, rich.
Lemon and Garlic Butter Sauce Ingredients
- Chicken broth: opt for a low-sodium chicken broth so you can control the seasoning to taste. If you need this to be vegetarian use vegetable broth.
- White wine: dry white wine elevates the complex flavor of each ingredient in this sauce. It is best to use a wine you like to drink. A sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio are great options.
- Whole milk: don’t use a low-fat milk here. Whole milk is key for achieving the right texture.
- Garlic: as we always say, fresh garlic is best! And since it’s a lemon and garlic butter sauce, you want to make sure you use fresh garlic for ample amount of flavor.
- Shallot: one of the tastiest ingredients in this lemon and garlic butter sauce is shallot.
- Dried bay leaf: if you don’t have bay leaves on hand, that OK. Just skip it.
- Butter: this is a butter sauce so we’re using a lot of butter (2 sticks!). Use unsalted butter so you can season it to taste. As it’s the base of the sauce, we recommend using a quality butter. We like Land ‘O Lakes, Organic Valley and Tillamook for this sauce.
- Flour: just a dash of all-purpose flour is needed to thicken the sauce. To make this gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour blend of sorghum flour.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: learn more about kosher salt and why it’s so important in cooking.
- Lemon and vinegar: both ingredients add acidity to balance out the richness of the sauce. We like a combination of lemon zest, lemon juice and even a splash of vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar you can simply use more lemon juice.
- Chives: fresh chives add fresh flavor. Feel free to use dill, parsley, scallions, or tarragon.
How to Make Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce
This lemon garlic sauce is easy to make and uses a few classic cooking techniques to create a silky smooth and rich sauce.
- Infuse the milk with garlic, shallot and bay leaf in a saucepan.
- Start preparing a roux by melting a bit of butter in a saucepan then whisk in flour and cook until it’s tan.
- Slowly and gradually add the infused milk to the flour mixture, whisking to combine after each addition.
- Once all of the milk has been added, remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Add butter into the sauce by tablespoon, whisking to incorporate after each addition. This is called mounting the sauce with butter.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar. Stir in chives and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Test Kitchen Tips
- To keep the sauce free of pepper flecks, use ground white pepper instead of black pepper.
- Before serving, warm the serving bowl up with either boiling water or warm tap water. This will keep the sauce loose and luscious. If you pour the sauce into a cold bowl it will start to harden.
- Store leftovers in a glass container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator. Gently reheat the sauce over low on the stove top; whisking to bring back together.
How to Use Lemon Butter Sauce
This sauce can be used in a variety of ways. We love tossing it with cooked spaghetti or linguine with seafood such as scallops, clams, and mussels. You could also serve it alongside this steamed mussels recipe.
We also recommend using it as a dip for all kinds of seafood including shrimp, crab legs and lobster.
If you have leftover crab from making our Crab Salad, dip it in this sauce!
What to Serve with Lemon and Garlic Butter Sauce
Get creative with what you serve with this sauce! Here are a few menu pairing ideas.
- Toss it with some angel hair or clam pasta and pair it with our Simple Butter Lettuce Salad.
- Enjoy the flavors of the East Coast with this Sheet Pan Halibut, Red Potatoes and Corn with the butter sauce on the side. Be sure to pair it with our Healthy Cornbread (or Gluten-Free Cornbread) for a full and satisfying meal.
- Serve it as a dipping sauce with shrimp, crab or Easy Salmon Cakes and pair it with our Garden Salad.
- Drizzle over all kinds of vegetables such as roasted carrots and beets, roasted Brussels sprouts, artichokes, sautéed broccoli or green beans. Pair one of the veggies with our Chicken Paillard.
- Use as a creamy topping for eggs Benedict then serve it all with our Simple Strawberry Salad.
- Scallops (and vegan scallops!) are a natural pairing with this rich butter sauce. Our fennel salad would be the perfect side for scallops and this lemon butter sauce.
- Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass and roasted asparagus with this butter sauce would be a delicious and springy pairing.
If you can, use what the recipe calls for—at least the first time you make it. The ingredient modifications below are intended to show the versatility of ingredients AND help you think creatively about this recipe!
- Infuse the milk with a sprig of rosemary or thyme for a wintery touch.
- Instead of chives, use fresh dill or tarragon.
- Try vermouth or pernod in place of the white wine.
- Swap out the broth in favor of clam juice for a buttery seafood pasta.
- To make this gluten-free use sorghum flour instead of all-purpose flour.
This sauce should not be made ahead of time. If you must, reheat sauce in a saucepan over low heat; add additional milk or butter if needed to re-emulsify.
As the sauce cools, it will begin to set up. You can reheat the sauce in a saucepan over low. Whisk until smooth; adding additional warm milk as needed.
If you want a thicker sauce, use more flour to make the roux.
Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and chilled
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or more lemon juice
- Chives, chopped
- Combine broth, wine, whole milk, garlic, shallot, and bay leaf in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by about half, 10–12 minutes.
- Heat one tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Sprinkle flour over butter and whisk to combine.
- Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is tan, but not brown, 2–4 minutes.
- Slowly and gradually whisk reduced liquid into roux, whisking vigorously to incorporate.
- Decrease heat to low and remove bay leaf. Gradually whisk butter into sauce 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each piece to melt before adding another (this is called mounting the sauce).
- Remove from heat and whisk in 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and vinegar; season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in chives and serve.
- Optional: thin sauce to desired consistency with warm broth as needed.
Other Sauce Recipes to Try
- Our Mustard Sauce is a must-try with ham and pork tenderloin.
- Herby tartar sauce pairs well with shrimp and other seafood meats.
- Looking for something with a kick? Our chipotle sauce adds just the right amount of spice to our peel ‘n eat shrimp.
- Make our Chicken Barbacoa using this easy homemade Adobo Sauce.
- This red wine pasta sauce is not only quick to make—it also compliments a variety of pasta dishes.
- Our Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce is one our favorite sauces to keep on hand in the freeze. Toss it with shredded chicken for a quick meal or make our Lamb Tikka Masala or Tofu Tikka Masala.
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