15-Minute Lemon Butter Sauce

published Jan 17, 2022
Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

This 10-minute sauce only calls for 6 ingredients.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 1 1/2 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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a small bowl of lemon butter sauce with a spoon in it, a whole lemon and three lemon slices on the side.
Credit: Laura Rege

With lemon butter sauce in the repertoire, dinner will never be lacking in flavor. It’s the kind of finish that transforms any cooked protein or side into an interesting meal, regardless of how it was prepared. French in origin, the key to the rich, silky texture of this minimal-ingredient, 10-minute sauce is butter, and the key to its irresistible tanginess is lemon.

Shallot and garlic smell incredible cooking up in butter and contribute savory notes. The parsley lends a clean finish while the chicken broth (you can use vegetable instead, if preferred), helps stretch out the sauce so it’s not just melted butter. Last but not least, don’t forget salt and pepper. They balance out the acidity, bringing out all the flavors of each ingredient. 

This sauce is also extremely versatile. Stir in Dijon mustard or a touch of Worcestershire sauce for a different flavor profile. Add chopped capers or olives for a briny element. Mix and match fresh chopped leafy green herbs such as tarragon, chives, basil, or cilantro. Or stir in your favorite spices like paprika, dried oregano or Italian seasoning, or ground cumin.

What Is Lemon Butter Sauce Made Of?

Lemon butter sauce is a decadent sauce made from lemon and butter, plus ingredients such as shallot, garlic, chicken stock, and parsley.

How Do You Thicken a Butter Sauce?

The sauce is thickened with the butter that is whisked in at the end of cooking. Make sure to use cold cubed butter. Continuously whisking helps to incorporate the butter into the sauce while it melts, ensuring even distribution as well as emulsification.

Credit: Laura Rege

What to Serve Lemon Butter Sauce With

You’ve got a great sauce recipe, now how do you put it to use? Lemon butter sauce is delicious spooned over any cooked protein, vegetable, or grain!

  • Serve it over proteins like chicken (we love it over seared chicken cutlets!), salmon, and steak. If you’re cooking protein in a skillet, cook the protein first, then make the sauce in the same skillet to get extra flavor from the browning.
  • Try it over roasted, steamed, or pan-seared vegetables.
  • Toss it with noodles to make lemon butter pasta.
  • Dip steamed artichoke leaves and hearts in it.
  • Drizzle it over warm grain salads or rice.

Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

This 10-minute sauce only calls for 6 ingredients.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 2 to 3

    medium lemons

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh parsley

  • 6 tablespoons

    cold unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 cup

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Dice 1 small shallot (about 1/4 cup). Mince 2 garlic cloves. Juice 2 to 3 lemons until you have 3 tablespoons juice. Pick and finely chop the leaves from 1 small bunch parsley until you have 3 tablespoons. Cut 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter into 6 pieces.

  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot is beginning to soften, 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until both garlic and shallot are light golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.

  3. Add the lemon juice then 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil until sauce reduces by half, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. While whisking, add the remaining butter and continue to whisk constantly until all the butter is melted and incorporated.

  4. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. Add the parsley and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: You can use other leafy green herbs in place of the parsley, such as basil, cilantro, or tarragon. If using tarragon, reduce the amount and add gradually to taste.

Storage: The sauce is best served immediately to ensure the butter does not separate from the sauce, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat gently.