Creamy lemon garlic sauce is the perfect accompaniment to fish and seafood. Make it in less than 15 minutes, and serve it hot or cold.
Lemon garlic cream sauce is a popular sauce to serve with seafood. It's typically packed with cream and butter, but this healthier version of it tastes just as good.
This is an essential staple if you're a seafood lover, as it's a really versatile sauce that pairs well with anything from salmon and cod to shrimp.
Why you'll love it
- Easy to make
- Serve it over seafood, or use as a dipping sauce
- Adjust the amount of garlic and lemon to suit your preferences
- Really easy to make it gluten free or vegan
- A lighter sauce recipe made with no cream
Milk: Use any milk that you like. Whole milk, skim milk, oat milk or soy milk are all excellent alternatives.
Butter: Makes the base of the roux. Salted and unsalted butter will both work fine, the same with oil based spreads.
Lemon: Add lemon juice to taste. I like to use freshly squeezed lemon, but you can also use bottled lemon juice.
Garlic: Garlic cloves are great, but garlic powder or garlic puree can also be used.
Chicken stock: Adds some flavor to the liquid. Substitute with vegetable stock or water for a vegetarian version. Hot water + a bouillon cube works fine.
All-purpose flour: Allows the sauce to thicken. You can alternatively use cornstarch.
Apple cider vinegar: Optional ingredient, but adds a little zest to the sauce.
Seasoning: Keep it simple with salt, pepper and dried parsley. The seasoning is added to taste, so you can adjust the amounts to suit your preference.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
One: Melt butter in a pot on the stove top over medium heat.
Two: Add flour. Quickly whisk the flour and butter together to form a paste, and cook this for a few seconds while stirring.
Three: Combine milk and chicken stock, and pour a splash of the liquid into the pot. Whisk until the liquid is incorporated into the flour paste, then add a little more. Continue to gradually add liquid until the sauce has an even, smooth consistency.
Four: Add very finely diced garlic, apple cider vinegar and seasoning to the sauce, and keep whisking. The sauce will gradually thicken. Add additional seasoning, and lemon juice to taste. I like to squeeze half a lemon at a time, and then check to see if more is needed. Serve the sauce immediately.
- Stir continuously, from the moment you add the flour, until the finished sauce has thickened. This is the easiest way to prevent lumps in your sauce.
- If you use diced garlic, the sauce will have small chunks of garlic in it. I like to serve it like this, but if you prefer a smooth sauce you can either use pureed garlic, or strain the sauce before serving.
- The sauce can be made ahead of time, and reheated shortly before serving.
- Add garlic and lemon juice to taste. You can decide exactly how garlic-y or lemon-y you like the sauce to be.
Classic lemon garlic butter sauce is typically served with fish, seafood or chicken. You can pour it over your favorite entree, or serve it as a dipping sauce with shrimp.
Here are some of my favorite recipes to pair it with:
- Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp
- Baked Haddock
- Mediterranean Baked Cod
- Pan Fried Hake
- Lemon Pepper Chicken Breast
- Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Balsamic Maple Salmon
You can also serve the sauce with vegetables like green beans or broccoli, or over angel hair pasta to make lemon chicken pasta.
Vegan lemon garlic sauce: Use a vegan butter alternative, and a vegan milk substitute like oat milk or soy milk. These are easy to find in most supermarkets.
Gluten free: Make sure that all ingredients are certified gluten free. Use gluten free all-purpose flour, which you can find in the allergy friendly section of most major supermarkets.
Spicy sauce: Add a kick of spice by adding red pepper flakes at the same time as you add the flour. The original sauce recipe is really mild.
Cheesy sauce: Add grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce before serving it.
All you need to make this recipe, is a small pot to make the sauce in, and a whisk. Make sure that you use a whisk which fits the pot well.
I also like to use a silicone spatula to make sure that no flour gets stuck in the corners of the pot. This is particularly useful if you're using a large whisk.
You can store leftover garlic lemon sauce in a sealed container for up to 3 days. Reheat the sauce in a microwave or in a pot on the stove top, and serve it warm.
You can also serve the sauce cold if you prefer. The cold sauce will be slightly thicker than the warm sauce, and works well as a dipping sauce.
Frequently asked questions
Make a roux based creamy sauce with lemon and garlic, and use it to coat cooked pasta. The pasta and sauce should be cooked separately, and combined before serving.
Absolutely. Both fresh lemon juice and bottled juice can be used.
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- Spicy Burger Sauce
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Lemon Garlic Sauce
- Melt butter in a pot on the stove top over medium heat.1 tablespoon butter
- Add flour. Quickly whisk the flour and butter together to form a paste, and cook this for a few seconds while stirring.1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Combine milk and chicken stock, and pour a splash of the liquid into the pot. Whisk until the liquid is incorporated into the flour paste, then add a little more. Continue to gradually add liquid until the sauce has an even, smooth consistency.½ cup chicken stock, ½ cup milk
- Add very finely diced garlic, apple cider vinegar and seasoning to the sauce, and keep whisking. The sauce will gradually thicken. Add additional seasoning, and lemon juice to taste. I like to squeeze half a lemon at a time, and then check to see if more is needed. Serve the sauce immediately.3 garlic cloves, 3 lemons, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- This sauce can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 3 days, and reheated or served cold. It's perfect for making ahead!
- Make it vegan by using oat milk or soy milk and a vegan butter substitute.
- Make sure to whisk and stir the sauce continuously, from when you add the flour, until the sauce has thickened. This is the easiest way to prevent lumpy sauce.
Food safety tips
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Be careful not to spill hot sauce on yourself
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove