Easy and customizable garlic butter sauce for seafood, steak, pasta and even grilled veggies. Tried and true classic recipe.
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Garlic Butter Sauce Recipe – a Classic Broken Butter Preparation
At its core this garlic butter sauce is made by gently cooking butter until it breaks and then flavoring it. It can taste as bold or as subtle as you want it to – you only need to vary the amount of garlic used. Below we also list minor flavor twists to the basic recipe to add heat or make it more enjoyable with seafood.
The preparation method for a melted butter and garlic sauce is central to a category known as broken butter sauces.
These are aptly called so because the perfect emulsion that raw butter is (water molecules suspended in fat) becomes transformed into a separated mixture of milk fat, water and proteins, which is not clarified.
Brown butter is another similar sauce but is cooked a bit longer.
What You Will Need
Butter. Because it is the backbone of the sauce it is worth it to get a good quality butter. To that end select an imported Irish or a locally made European style variety (see below). Both taste better and contain less water. Alsways go with unsalted butter, it is much easier to add salt later on.
Garlic. While you can make the sauce with either only raw garlic cloves or garlic powder, we recommend that you use a combination. They taste differently and each adds its own layers of flavor, creating more depth.
Salt. Kosher salt, simply for seasoning purposes, use it to taste. Black pepper can be added if you’d like.
Parsley. The classic fresh herb added to garlic butter sauce, chopped really fine. You can susbtitute with other fresh herbs such as chives or oregano, both are very complementary.
Small saucepan. Ideally non-stick.
What is European style butter? An American emulation of French butter made with cultured milk (per the standard in France) and with milk fat content greater than 80% (typically at 85%). It has a fuller flavor and due to the less water it contains is better for making puff pastry dough. A butter sauce made with it tastes noticeably richer.
How to Make Garlic Butter Sauce: Step-by-step
- They key to preparing this sauce is to cook it over medium heat (or medium-low) and in a non-stick pan. Precut the butter and bring it to room temperature before you begin. Adding pieces as opposed to a whole stick will ensure it melts evenly.
- Always start with just a couple of tablespoons of butter and gently cook the minced garlic in it, just until it softens and becomes fragrant. Then add the rest of the pieces.
- Once all the butter starts to melt, stir in the garlic powder. When it has liquefied, turn off the heat, season with salt and fold in the finely chopped parsley. The sauce is ready to serve!
TIP: A thick garlic butter sauce will result if you simply allow the mixture to cool down a bit. It will become perfect for dipping bread or pizza crust!
Easy Customization Options
- Vinegar. You can add white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar instead of lemon juice as the acidic ingredient. This substitution works particularly well if you are going to use the garlic butter with grilled veggies.
- Lemon zest. If you want to impart more lemony flavor add about 1 tsp of lemon zest to the sauce at the time you add the lemon juice.
- Heat. A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes will easily add heat – how much is up to you.
- Spice blends. Cajun or Old Bay seasoning added along with or in place of the salt are wonderful ways to boost the flavors while the garlic maintains the lead.
Ideas for Indulging in This Liquid Butter Perfection
Seafood. Everything from classic seafood boils and grilled lobster tails to simple beer peel and eat shrimp or oven baked cod fillets tastes even better when each bite is bathed in garlic melted butter. We like to add some seafood seasoning too.
Pasta. This sauce is simply perfect with anything from long strand pastas like spaghetti to all sorts of short cut noodles and unique pasta shapes. Freshly boiled cheese or spinach stuffed raviolli, lilghtly browned in a skillet and then drizzled with garlicky melted butter are an indulgent treat. Sprinkle with fresh parsley to finish.
Steak. Every steakhouse has some version of butter based condiment, whether a solid or whipped compound option or a melted one. Our homemade garlic butter sauce is just the decadent addition to perfectly cooked Tomahawk steak or other bone-in ribeye.
Grilled Vegetables. When you drizzle butter and garlic sauce over grilled or roasted veggies it adds richness and underscores the charred notes on the surface. Great veggie candidates for the purpose are spaghetti squash, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage (sliced in wedges), bell peppers, corn (even though technically a grain), etc.
We grow our own spaghetti squash ervery summer and by far our favorite way to prepare it is to pick it while still smallish, grill it (sliced in half, upside down) and then serve individual ‘bowls’ of it. To these everyone adds as much sauce as they want.
Pizza crust and breadsticks. A great dipping sauce for delicious carbohydrates like freshly baked flat breads, bread rolls, pizza crust and breadsticks.
Garlic butter mashed potatoes. You can use this sauce to amplify the flavors in mashed potatoes. Add it to taste, along with a bit of heavy cream for a truly luxuriosu side dish.
How to Store Garlic Butter Sauce and Reheat It
Simply transfer any leftover sauce to a container for which you have a lid and refrigerate. It will keep well for a few days. Warming it up is simply a matter of reheating the solid it will form once in the fridge. Either warm up in a sauce pan over low heat or in the microwave.
You Might Enjoy
- 8 oz unsalted butter (2 sticks)*
- 4 cloves garlic, minced**
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp finley chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Cut the butter into pieces and bring it to room temperature. Prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a sauce pan over medium-low heat (or low if your stove tends to be strong) melt 2 tbsp butter and add the minced garlic to it.
- Stir the garlic around as it softens and once fragrant (about 60 seconds) add the rest of the butter pieces.
- Once most of the butter has melted stir in the garlic powder (it will add a different garlicky dimension to the overall flavor).
- Turn off the heat once all the butter has melted and white foam appears on top (it is simply water bubbling before it evaporates). Add salt (to taste), the lemon juice and stir. Fold in the parsley. Serve.
*The better the quality of the butter, the better the sauce will taste. Use Irish or European style if possible.
**Medium sized, the sauce will taste garlicky but not too much because its flavor mellows down during the initial softening. If you crave stronger taste increase the amount of cloves.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 103mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g
Based on 6 servings, but number of servings will vary depending on how the sauce is used and in what quantity.