Simple Lemon Caper Sauce

Simple lemon caper sauce

The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
105 Calories
12g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 105
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 183mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 20mg 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.)

Lemons and capers go together really well. And butter makes everything better, usually. Bringing the three ingredients into this easy sauce offers a delicious finishing touch for simple preparations such as baked, grilled, or broiled fish, shrimp, or chicken. This quick weeknight lemon caper sauce isn't fancy, but it somehow makes even the most basic turkey or veal cutlets, or baked chicken or tuna, feel a little bit more special. It comes together in a flash, using ingredients you may already have on hand.

However, if you've never had capers, most supermarkets will have them. They are the unopened flower buds of the caper bush, and they bring a tangy, floral, and almost briny or salty taste to whatever they're paired with. They're sold in small jars and can usually be found in the grocery store near other condiments or sometimes with specialty Italian ingredients, depending on the store.

Capers can be rinsed (or not) before using, depending on the recipe specifications, and need to be stored in the fridge once the jar is opened. They happen to pair especially well with chicken (think chicken piccata), and can completely transform the most basic of salmon dishes. They appear a lot in Italian cooking and also are great with other kinds of pasta dishes and pickled with other foods. They're dark green and some people say they taste a little like green olives; if you're in a pinch, you can substitute one for the other.

The recipe makes enough sauce for about four generous servings, and it can be scaled up to serve more.


Click Play to See This Simple Lemon Caper Sauce Recipe Come Together


“This is a bright lemony sauce that is simple and quick to make. It’s the perfect finishing touch to sautéed fish or grilled chicken cutlets. Be sure to add a pinch of salt to even out the lemon butter flavor.” —Joan Velush

Simple Lemon Caper Sauce/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained

  • 4 tablespoons (2-ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

  • Kosher salt, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make simple lemon caper sauce

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  2. Melt the butter in a small skillet or sauté pan over low heat.

    butter melting in stainless steel pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, and the capers. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking over low heat for about 30 seconds.

    melted butter with capers in a stainless steel pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  4. Add the chopped fresh parsley and salt to taste. Stir and remove from the heat. 

    simple lemon caper sauce topped with fresh parsley

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  5. Drizzle the warm sauce over cooked shrimp, fish, potatoes, chicken, or turkey and serve immediately. Enjoy.

    baked fish topped with simple lemon caper sauce on a white platter

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

How to Use Lemon Caper Sauce

This sauce is incredibly versatile and pairs well with many chicken, seafood, and fish recipes. Try these:

Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce

Broiled Tuna Steaks

Classic Sole Dore Seafood Dish

How to Store Lemon Caper Sauce

This sauce can be made up to three days ahead of time if you cover and keep it in the refrigerator. You can also store any leftovers in a similar fashion.