Lemon Butter Sauce – Seafood’s Best Friend

Whether you’re diving in tails or claw first, Lemon Butter Sauce is the rich, decadent, yet tangy companion that will instantly transform any seafood meal. This versatile sauce is ideal for dipping, drizzling, pouring, and slathering over all of your favorite crustaceans.

If there is one sauce to have in your seafood cooking arsenal, it’s lemon butter. The brightness of the lemon is a natural accent to pretty much all seafood. And butter, what doesn’t butter go with. In the words of the great Julia Child, with enough butter, anything is good!

The Basics of a Good Lemon Butter Sauce

How to Sous Vide Lobster

Knowing how to make lemon butter sauce only requires a few simple steps and ingredients. With one lemon butter sauce recipe, you can serve up everything from baked lobster tails to perfectly seared scallops. Don’t feel like cooking? Make a quick lemon butter sauce and serve it up with cocktail lobster claws or shucked lobster tail meat that’s already cooked. You can even use it to dress lobster roll.

  • Bring a small amount of water to a boil over medium-high heat, and then turn the heat to medium low.
  • Whisk in a few cubes of cold butter at a time, waiting for it to emulsify before adding the next. Continue to whisk until all of the butter has been incorporated.
  • Stir in the fresh parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  • Keep the sauce warm on low heat until ready to serve.

The Essential Ingredients of Lemon Butter Sauce

  • Good Quality Butter – Butter is the star of this lemon butter. Make sure to pick a high-quality butter for maximum richness. Both salted, and unsalted butter will work, however when using salted butter keep in mind you won’t have as much control on the seasoning.
  • Garlic – Skip the jar and reach for a head of garlic. The garlic is grated so it easily dissolves into the butter sauce, infusing it with savory flavor for a garlic butter sauce for seafood.
  • Water – The key to this sauce which is similar to a beurre monte is using a water base. It helps emulsify the butter and prevent the sauce from breaking.
  • Lemon – Just like you want fresh garlic, reach for fresh lemon. You’ll use both the zest and the juice in this creamy and dreamy sauce.
  • Fresh Herbs – Parsley is a classic choice for a butter sauce. Both flat leaf and curly parsley will work.

Variations to Spice Up Your Sauce

How to Buy Fresh Scallops

Once you have the basics of a lemon butter sauce down, it’s easy to add your own personal touches and completely make it your own. From a garlic cream sauce to a lemon garlic butter sauce, the possibilities are endless of playing around with flavors. Here are a few ideas to add and swap out ingredients.

  • Make a butter and garlic sauce. Once you have added the butter grate in the garlic. Grated garlic not only gives bold, pungent flavor, but it easily incorporates into the sauce.
  • If you want a pop of flavor similar to garlic, but a little more delicate, add finely diced shallots. You can add the shallots at the same time you add the water, allowing their flavor to permeate.
  • Just like butter makes everything better, so does wine. A dry white wine such as pinot grigio pairs especially well with seafood. Skip the water and add wine. Allow it to come to a boil and mostly evaporate before stirring in the butter.
  • Swap out the parsley for another soft herb. Chives, tarragon, dill, and chervil are all excellent options. You can even do a combination!
  • Give the butter sauce a slightly floral flavor and a canary pop of color. Add a pinch of crushed saffron to the water.
  • If you’re using unsalted butter, you can add a pinch or two of your favorite seafood seasoning.
  • Like things a little spicy? Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a splash of hotsauce.

Health Benefits: Why Lemon Butter Sauce is a Good Choice

When you think of a lemon butter sauce, your first thought might not be that it’s healthy. While everything needs to be served in moderation, a butter sauce is a good way to have that decadent butter experience but in a more minimal way. Unlike a pot of just melted butter than might have you diving in again and again, the brightness of the lemon will encourage you to savor the flavors without over indulging.

In addition, the water that helps emulsify the sauce also helps slightly dilute the sauce. And don’t forget that sunny burst of vitamin C the lemon brings. This is a great way to enjoy the richness of butter without needed excess.

Pairing Your Sauce with Seafood

A garlic butter sauce for seafood can transform any meal into a true experience. If you’ve never served up this delicious sauce with your favorite gifts from the sea, you might be wondering what to pair it with? Let’s break down all the different ways you can serve a butter sauce for seafood.

  • Impress your friends and family by serving this sauce with colossal lobster tails kissed by the flame of the grill.
  • Warm up shucked lobster tails in the lemon butter sauce.
  • Dress up lobster roll with this flavorful butter.
  • Drizzle sauce over seared scallops.
  • Serve this sauce with grilled lobster tails.
  • Looking for the perfect pairing for boiled live lobsters? This is is.

Cooking Tips for the Perfect Sauce Every Time

Don’t be intimidated about making a lemon cream sauce. Unlike more temperamental sauces like a hollandaise sauce that requires clarified butter, this sauce is easy, customizable, and completely versatile. Here are some tips that will set you up for success every time.

  • Once your water has come to a boil, immediately lower the heat.
  • Make sure your butter is cold. Cube it up and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to making your sauce if desired.
  • Only add a few cubes of butter at a time. Wait until they’re mostly emulsified until adding the next few cubes.
  • Never stop whisking. You want to keep that butter moving. Not only will this help emulsify the sauce it also drops the tender, making it less likely for the butter to break.
  • If your butter seems like it’s starting to break remove the pan from the heat and continue to whisk.
  • Swap out the water for wine to create a white wine butter sauce. Make sure you allow the wine to reduce by at least half before adding the butter.
  • Add a splash of heavy cream to the sauce before adding the lemon juice to create a cream sauce with lemon. Making a cream sauce recipe is great if you plan on using this for lobster ravioli.

Storing and Reusing Lemon Butter Sauce

Once you try the silky, creamy, and sunny lemon butter sauce, there’s a good possibility there won’t be any left. However, this sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, and you have two different options for how to reheat it and use it.

  • Keep the butter sauce stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will last for 3-4 days.
  • Option one to reheat this cream sauce recipe is to place it on a saucepan over the lowest heat. Stir constantly until it has melted, coats the back of a spoon, but hasn’t split. Serve immediately.
  • Option two for reheating is to add the butter to a saucepan and melt it as you would regular butter. This is a great butter to use for dipping mobster lobster tails in, or colossal shrimp.

Serving and Enjoyment Tips

This bright, citrusy, and fresh butter sauce is perfectly paired with multiple different seafood dishes, but don’t let seafood be the only way you serve up this decadent sauce! Serve this up alongside 8-10 oz lobster tails, but then use the sauce with your sides as well. Here are a few ideas on how to get creative with this lemon butter sauce recipe.

  • Toss roasted red potatoes in the sauce to finish them off.
  • Drizzle the butter over grilled asparagus.
  • Top off steamed broccoli with the butter sauce.
  • Make a surf and turf feast. This butter is equally delicious on steak. It would pair well with both our Back Bay Surf & Turf dinner as well as Poseiden’s Catch.
  • Dress up your grilled, broiled, and pan seared fish such as cod, flounder, or grouper with this sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent my lemon butter sauce from separating or breaking?

Make sure that your butter is extremely cold when adding it to the pan, and that the heat is on low. Only add a few cubes at a time and whisk constantly.

What’s the best way to reheat lemon butter sauce without affecting its texture?

Add the sauce to a pan on low heat and stir constantly until it’s just remelted. Remove from the heat.

Can I freeze lemon butter sauce, and how should I thaw it for future use.

This dairy based sauce doesn’t freeze well.

How long does homemade lemon butter sauce last in the refrigerator, and how can I tell if it’s gone bad?

This sauce will last for 3-4 days if properly stored. It may begin to separate beyond that time.

Are there any quick fixes if my lemon butter sauce turns out too tangy or too rich?

Add a splash of cream to cut the lemon tang. Add additional lemon if the sauce is too rich.

What are some common allergens or dietary concerns associated with lemon butter sauce, and how can I address them.

Dairy allergies are a common allergen. This sauce can easily be made completely dairy free by using a plant-based butter.

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Lemon Butter Sauce

Lemon Butter Sauce – Seafood’s Best Friend

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Whether you’re diving in tails or claw first, Lemon Butter Sauce is the rich, decadent, yet tangy companion that will instantly transform any seafood meal.

  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add the water to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Let reduce slight.
  2. Turn the heat to low. Add a few cubes of butter at a time, whisking constantly.
  3. Once the first cubes of cold butter are emulsified add a few more cubes. Continue this process until all of the butter has been added. If your sauce seems like it might be breaking remove it from the heat.
  4. Stir in the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper


  1. Replace the water with 1/3 cup dry white wine. Allow to bowl until mostly evaporated and then continue with the remaining steps.
  2. Use your favorite soft herbs such as dill, chives, tarragon, or basil.
  3. Make this spicy. Add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.
  4. Instead of salt use your favorite seafood seasoning. 
  • Author: Nicole Stover
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: simmer
  • Cuisine: American


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