Lemon-Garlic Butter Sauce for Seafood

SauceButterFish and Seafood

Lemon-garlic butter sauce, perfect for fish, shrimp, scallops.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A few weeks ago I spent a morning with Chef David Lamonica of Scott’s Seafood in Folsom, California, learning all about preparing seafood and sauces that work well with seafood. Of everything we prepared that morning, simple pan fried haddock with this lemon-garlic butter sauce was the most delectable.

Lemon-Garlic Butter Sauce for Seafood Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2 cups.


  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice


1 Place first six ingredients (clam juice, sherry, whole milk, garlic, shallots, bay leaf) in a small saucepan. Heat on medium high heat and let simmer until the liquids have reduced by about half.

2 In a separate saucepan (1-qt minimum) prepare the roux. Heat one tablespoon of butter in the saucepan on medium heat until it is foamy. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring a couple of minutes with a metal whisk until well mixed (tan, but not browned).

3 Slowly add the reduced mixture to the roux, stirring quickly to incorporate. When you first add some of the mixture, the roux will bubble up. Just keep adding the mixture and keep whisking to incorporate.

4 Lower the heat to low. Slowly whisk in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Add lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Add some more clam stock or water if the sauce is too thick.

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Showing 4 of 11 Comments / Reviews

  • Corrie

    This is the most delicious sauce! We use it on seafood, chicken, egg noodles, etc. What a great addition to my culinary repertoire!

  • debbie

    Thank you for this recipe! MMMMMMMM good! I used only 1 stick of butter and added canned fire-roasted tomatoes and it was creamy and delicious.

  • king james

    I used a little less half & half instead of milk and added small shrimp & crabmeat plus an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Excellent recipe. Thanks!

  • Sara

    I’ve been perusing your website, and I’m really curious to try this recipe, as I’ve been looking for something like this. I have one question though: Could you provide a possible substitute for the sherry, as my family and I don’t drink alcohol? It would be much appreciated.

    This sauce is a classic sauce with the ingredients as is. Most of the alcohol burns off in the cooking. If you really must substitute, try swapping out the dry sherry for half white vinegar and half more of the clam juice. ~Elise

  • Christine

    Hi Elise,

    If I want to use this lemon-garlic butter sauce for pasta, should I leave out clam juice from the ingredients? Thanks!

    Sounds like a good idea, unless you want your pasta to taste like clams. ~Elise

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Lemon-Garlic Butter Sauce for Seafood