Win $500 Cash! The Holiday Desserts recipe contest is on now. LAST CHANCE TO ENTER →

Southern Garlic Butter Sauce

A decadent butter sauce filled with herbs and spices, lemon juice, and a touch of Bayou heat.

Southern Garlic Butter Sauce Horizontal 1
Image: Jono Elderton for 12 Tomatoes

I’ve become obsessed with making this simple but delightful Southern garlic butter sauce when I want to make a meal pop with flavor. It takes just a few minutes in a pan, yet can enliven a whole host of different meat dishes, from seafood and chicken through to fat, juicy steaks. It’s become a go-to sauce that works for both the spice lover (myself) and the more conservative palate (my wife).

Southern Garlic Butter Sauce Vertical 1
Image: Jono Elderton for 12 Tomatoes

Cajun seasonings are spicy and intensely flavored with smoked paprika, dried herbs, garlic (of course), and onion. I’ve used a store bought Cajun mix for this recipe then added a few other spices – hot paprika, a touch of celery salt, and onion powder. I like using this combination over an item such as Old Bay, because the components can bring more individuality and subtlety to the sauce, rather than an immediately identifiable flavor.

Southern Garlic Butter Sauce Vertical 2
Image: Jono Elderton for 12 Tomatoes

The garlic is central to this sauce, and the keystone to the overall flavor. You can go with minced or fresh chopped, just make sure you give it a quick the raw garlic a brief cook through before adding the other ingredients. It will sweeten the flavor of the sauce and emphasize its earthiness, while reducing the harsh burn that you sometimes get when using garlic in large amounts.

Southern Garlic Butter Sauce Vertical 3
Image: Jono Elderton for 12 Tomatoes

I’m also a huge advocate for adding lemon juice to the mix (lime juice tends to be a little too sweet). It’s perfect for cutting through natural fats and oil, adding a tangy but friendly touch to contrast the creaminess. Lemon juice also helps bring out the paprika in the sauce and round off the saltier aspects. I heartily recommend you try tinkering with the hot, sweet, and smoky paprika types to find the right fit for your own sauce.

Southern garlic butter sauce is a decadent and delicious addition to almost anything you can grill or pan fry! Once you’ve made it the first time, and seen how easy it is to create, you’ll keep finding reasons to make it, and make it even better!

Southern Garlic Butter Sauce Vertical 4
Image: Jono Elderton for 12 Tomatoes

Serves 4

5m prep time

10m cook time

  • 1 stick of butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (store bought is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small non-stick pan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  2. Add the rest of the butter, and the remaining ingredients. Whisk to combine then cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place southern garlic butter sauce in a gravy boat or ramekins to serve, or pour directly over the protein of your choice.

Recipe adapted from Peel With Zeal

Subscribe to 12 Tomatoes