Want the best lemon butter sauce recipe? You’ve come to the right place. This creamy sauce is tangy, buttery with just a hint of garlic and is perfect served over seared fish, vegetables or with rice.
This recipe is slightly different to other lemon butter recipes as this is more of a sauce and not just melted butter with lemon juice added. This recipe is very loosely based on a French Beurre Blanc sauce (an emulsified butter sauce) and delivers the creamiest, perfectly tangy sauce. It might take slightly longer than an easy lemon butter sauce recipe but the end result is so worth it.
Table of Contents
- White wine. The wine adds some complexity to the finished sauce and you’ll be reducing it which will burn off any alcohol but if you’d prefer to substitute, use good chicken broth/stock. I used sauvignon blanc but chardonnay, Chenin blanc or Pinot Grigio will all work.
- Fresh garlic clove. This is optional but I do like a hum of garlic in this sauce. You could also add fresh herbs like thyme, dill, parsley or chives for flavor.
- Heavy cream. Use heavy whipping cream with a high fat content for this sauce.
- Fresh lemon juice.
- Butter. I used salted butter but unsalted butter is fine too.
- Salt and pepper. Feel free to use black pepper but I like using white pepper as it’s a little milder in the sauce.
How to make lemon butter sauce
Start by reducing the wine and garlic clove in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Once reduced, add the cream and cook until slightly thickened then stir in the lemon juice. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly then remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, adding one tablespoon at a time, until thickened and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Can I make this ahead?
I wouldn’t recommend making this lemon butter sauce ahead of time. It won’t reheat well and will likely split as the butter will melt and cause it to break. You could reduce the wine in advance to save some time if you are planning on serving this sauce to guests.
This lemon sauce is fantastic over seared fish (cod, halibut, tilapia, etc) , salmon, seafood/shellfish (shrimp or prawns, lobster, calamari) and it’s delicious served with vegetables, rice or pasta. It’s also similar to hollandaise sauce so can easily be served over poached eggs.
The trick to a luscious butter sauce is to allow the cream and lemon juice to reduce before whisking in the cold butter. The butter will also help to to thicken the sauce but it’s important for the cream to have reduced before whisking in the butter.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds acidity/tang to a sauce and brightens all the other flavors. Often when food tastes bland, all it needs is a squeeze of lemon juice.
If you whisk the butter into the sauce while it’s still on the heat, the butter will melt too quickly and will cause the sauce to break.
Because there is a lot of fat in the cream, the lemon juice won’t curdle the sauce. You’re also not leaving the lemon juice in the cream for a long period of time so it shouldn’t curdle at all.
Easy sauce recipes
Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 garlic clove smashed
- 1 cup cream
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 4 tbsp cold butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pour the white wine into a saucepan and add a smashed garlic clove.
- Set the pan over medium heat then bring to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce by half, approximately 10 minutes.
- Whisk in the cream and allow to simmer, whisking regularly, until the cream has reduced and coats the back of a spoon easily.
- Stir in the lemon juice and cook, whisking regularly, for another 1-2 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat then whisk in the cold butter, one cube at a time, until the butter is emulsified into the sauce.
- By adding the butter off of the heat, the butter won't melt quickly and cause the sauce to split.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper then serve.
- I prefer using a small saucepan to give me more control over the speed the liquid will reduce but you could use a skillet or frying pan, just make sure you control the heat and whisk continuously.
- You could mince the garlic clove if you want stronger flavor but smashing it will just infuse the wine slightly without being overpowering.