Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce

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.

Creamy lemon butter sauce over pan-fried fish.

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.

Ingredients needed

  • 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.
Ingredients for lemon butter 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.

Serving suggestions

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.

Lemon butter sauce in saucepan


How do you thicken butter sauce?

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.

What does lemon juice do to a sauce?

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.

Why did my lemon butter sauce break?

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.

How do you keep lemon from curdling cream sauce?

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

Lemon Butter Sauce

Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce

The perfect lemon butter sauce recipe. Creamy, tangy and perfect served over everything from seared fish to vegetables.
4.75 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: butter lemon sauce, garlic lemon butter sauce, Lemon butter sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Calories: 177kcal
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 8


  • 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.


Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 0.02g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 613IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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  1. I made this sauce exactly as the recipe specified. I served it over oven roasted salmon and asparagus. It’s delicious! I’m so happy to be learning about sauces and this one is a keeper. I will definitely make it again and again.

  2. Last week I made lemon garlic marinated chicken thighs. I was concerned that I hadn’t marinated them long enough to really get them flavorful enough so I decided to search for a lemon sauce. I googled lemon, garlic, white wine and this sauce popped up. Wow! This is so simple but so elegant. I recommend smashing the garlic (as the recipe calls for) rather than chopping it. The garlic is distinctive in a soft way rather than in your face if you chopped it. I served it with the chicken but also tossed some in with orzo. My husband rates my dinners on how much he talks. If he doesn’t talk much it means he wants to concentrate on the meal. He said nothing during this meal!

  3. I always kept salmon simple, but wanted a sauce that would go with the fish and take the rice side dish to the next level. I followed the directions and everything worked out perfectly. I highly recommend this to anyone who’s afraid of “oh jeeze, cream and whipping” because it’s easy and yields great results!! By all means, try it !!