Lemon Chive Sauce

Cod fillets Lemon and Chive Sauce
Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images
Prep: 2 mins
Cook: 3 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
136 Calories
15g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 136
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 267mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 10%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 14mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This light-colored, buttery, lemon-flavored sauce goes well with broiled or grilled chicken, baked fish, poached fish, asparagus (both green and German white asparagus) and other vegetables. It is a rich sauce where a little goes a long way. Add it sparingly and drizzle it over a dish rather than pour it. The sauce can also be used as dipping sauce for artichokes.

The taste and presentation of this sauce is sophisticated but its ingredient list is short and its preparation is simple and quick. The three key ingredients in this sauce are butter, lemon, and chives. Cooking the butter over low heat will require your full attention because the butter should not brown.

Both the juice and peel of fresh lemons are added to the sauce. If you can, use organic lemons as the peel is eaten to avoid the pesticides in conventionally grown lemons. Also, grate the lemon very finely; the finer it is grated, the more flavor it has. Make sure that you only take the thin yellow top layer when zesting the lemon. The thick white pith underneath is bitter and can ruin a dish. The pith cannot be separated from the yellow zest afterwards.

You can make the sauce with sweet cream butter, which is the standard butter you can buy at every supermarket. But if you want to notch it up, try using European-style imported butter such as Irish butter. With 82 percent milk fat, European butters have a higher milk fat content than American butters with 80 percent milk fat. When used in cooking, European butter gives dishes a deeper, richer, more buttery flavor. If you use European-style butter you might notice that it foams less than American butter when heated. This happens because European butter contains less water than American butter.

Fresh chives are a perfect match both for butter and chives. Chives give dishes a very subtle onion flavor. Use only fresh chives, as freeze-dried chives don’t have the same flavor and texture. And wait to add the chives to the sauce at the very last moment, as they wilt quickly when incorporated in a hot dish.

For added color, garnish your dish with more freshly snipped chives.


  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon parsley, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Stir slowly through both steps of the recipe to avoid burning the butter.

  3. Add remaining ingredients and heat through.

  4. Serve hot with broiled or grilled chicken, baked fish, asparagus, or vegetables of your choice. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley to the sauce if you like.