This Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce recipe is an easy way to turn a simple meal into something absolutely delicious. It uses just a few ingredients to make the most creamy, flavorful, and super versatile cream sauce that you can mix with pasta, use in casseroles and bakes, drizzle over chicken, and so much more.
Easy Garlic Lemon Cream Sauce
This recipe for Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce is the perfect last minute dinner solution. It’s super creamy, delicious, and best of all takes just a few minutes to whip together. Mix it into your favorite pasta and top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese for a super simple dinner. Or, use it in place of Alfredo sauce in all sorts of pasta bakes and casseroles.
You can even use this lemon garlic butter sauce as a simple way to make roasted veggies, baked potatoes, salmon, shrimp, or any chicken recipe a little more exciting. It’s really hard to go wrong, even with any picky eaters.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve this creamy lemon sauce:
- Serve with lemon zest, fresh parsley, and extra Parmesan cheese over your favorite cooked pasta.
- Substitute anywhere you would normally use regular Alfredo sauce, such as Creamy Garlic Tortellini Alfredo, Chicken Stuffed Shells with Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo, or this Chicken Alfredo Dip.
- Drizzle over chicken breasts, baked potatoes, or roasted veggies.
Ingredients in Creamy Lemon Sauce
- Butter - you can use unsalted or salted butter for this recipe. If you choose salted butter, you may choose to add less salt at the end.
- Garlic - fresh minced garlic or grated garlic has the strongest flavor. You can substitute garlic powder if you prefer, keeping in mind that the garlic flavor will be much more muted.
- Lemon - you’ll need both the zest and the juice from a fresh lemon. Make sure and zest the lemon before juicing it, and be sure to hold off on adding the juice until after the cream sauce has warmed up. This helps keep the sauce from curdling.
- Chicken Broth - you can use any type of chicken broth. Or, substitute vegetable broth to make this recipe vegetarian.
- Heavy Whipping Cream - this adds flavor and body to the sauce, keeping it super creamy. You can substitute milk or half and half but the sauce won’t be quite as rich.
- Parmesan Cheese - make sure and use freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The kind from the can won’t melt properly.
- Salt and Pepper - the quantities given are just to use as a reference. As always, you should season with salt and pepper to taste.
How to Make This Lemon Butter Cream Sauce
- Cook the butter and garlic. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook while stirring for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic is transparent.
- Cook the rest of the sauce. Zest the lemon, then cut in half, squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl, and set aside. Reduce heat to medium low, add the lemon zest to the garlic butter and whisk, cooking for about 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the broth, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese and continue to whisk over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy.
- Add the lemon juice and season. Remove from the heat and add the fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Use immediately. Add immediately to cooked pasta, garnishing with fresh parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Or, allow it to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
A broken or curdled lemon garlic butter sauce can be so frustrating, however we have a couple of tips. The best way to prevent your sauce from curdling is to make sure that you don’t mix the lemon juice with the cream until the cream has heated and that it never gets hot enough to even come to a simmer. If the dairy is either too cold or too hot, it will react with the acids in the lemon juice and cause it to curdle.
If your sauce does curdle, don’t freak out! Add a little extra splash of heavy cream and either use an immersion blender to smooth it out, or add it to a regular blender.
We don’t recommend freezing this sauce because the texture will change once it is frozen and thawed. It’s best to either use the sauce immediately, or store for up to 3 days in the fridge and reheat over low heat once you want to use it.
Once the sauce begins to cool, it will immediately thicken. Because of this, it’s important to reheat over low heat, stirring often. I also like to add a little extra splash of heavy cream, broth, or even white wine to the sauce before reheating to thin it out just a touch.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerator: if you have leftovers or want to make this sauce ahead of time, allow to cool at room temperature and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To reheat: reheat in a pot over low heat, adding a splash of heavy cream, broth, or white wine and stirring frequently. Continue to thin the sauce as needed.
- Red Pepper Flakes: If you enjoy a bit of heat, a pinch of red pepper flakes can be added to the sauce as it's simmering, giving it a spicy kick.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes: Add some minced sun dried tomatoes to your sauce as it's simmering for a tangy varation. The addition of Sun Dried Tomatoes also creates a beautiful pale pink cream sauce.
- Veggies: Add some roasted or steamed Broccoli or Asparagus to this easy pasta dish to make it a complete meal.
- Pesto: Add a scoop of pesto to the cream sauce to make a creamy pesto pasta sauce, perfect for pasta, dipping breadsticks, or adding to zoodles.
Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic minced or grated
- 1 large Lemon zested and then juiced
- 1 cup Chicken Broth can substitute vegetable broth
- ½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese grated
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Pepper
- 1 pound Pasta
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook while stirring for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic is transparent.
- Zest the lemon, then cut in half, squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl, and set aside. Reduce heat to medium low, add the lemon zest to the garlic butter and whisk, cooking for about 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the broth, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese and continue to whisk over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy.
- Remove from the heat and add the fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Add immediately to cooked pasta, garnishing with fresh parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Or, allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
More Simple Pasta Recipes to Try
- Alfredo Sauce
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Tomato Feta Pasta
- Easy Baked Ziti
- Homemade Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Tortellini Bake
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Garlic Parmesan Orzo
- Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Meatballs
- Homemade Meat Sauce for Pasta
- More Pasta Recipes
- More Sauce Recipes
This easy Lemon Garlic Butter Cream Sauce is the perfect last minute dinner solution. It's creamy, quick to prepare, and can be mixed with pasta, used in casseroles, drizzled over chicken, and more.