Learn how to make Crab Butter, a rich and buttery sauce that’s a must with crab legs, lobster tails, steamed shrimp, and more. Keep it simple with the base recipe or take it up a notch with any of the 3 flavor variations (garlic, lemon, and spicy)!
When it comes to seafood dipping sauces, cocktail sauce, seafood boil sauce, and remoulade sauce are some of the most popular options. They’re flavorful and always take each bite of shrimp or fish way up a notch. But when it comes to crab legs or steamed shellfish, there’s no better dipping sauce than Crab Butter!
Crab butter is so much more than melted butter. It’s typically made with clarified butter, giving it a full-bodied, rich, buttery taste and a smooth, glossy consistency. The butter is enriched with complimentary herbs and seasonings to make every bite of crab better than the last.
This recipe will teach you how to make restaurant-style clarified crab butter with 4 flavor variations: plain, garlic, lemon, and spicy. Find your favorite or serve them all at your next seafood boil, with corn-on-the-cob, or drizzled over popcorn!
Most basic crab butter sauce recipes begin with these 2 simple ingredients:
- Unsalted butter – If you can, use a good-quality rich butter, like European-style butter. This variety has an extra 2% of butterfat compared to American butter, which may not sound like a lot, but the difference in flavor and texture goes a long way.
- Kosher salt – Or use coarse sea salt to enhance the buttery flavors.
From there, herbs and seasonings are added to give the sauce a delicious custom flavor. Keep scrolling for ideas on how to infuse crab butter with more flavor!
How to make homemade crab butter sauce
Melt the sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it melts, bring the butter up to a boil, allowing it to boil for 1 minute before taking it off of the heat.
Set the butter aside to cool but DO NOT stir it. You want to let it sit so the milk solids rise to the top.
Skim and discard the milk solids with a slotted spoon, leaving the melted butterfat behind.
Pour the melted butter into a serving bowl and add a pinch of salt. Either serve the crab dipping sauce right away or use any of the 3 flavor variations below to enhance it:
Garlic crab butter
Stir in grated or finely minced garlic cloves. Roasted garlic would be delicious here as well.
Spicy crab butter
Finish the sauce with a pinch of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.
Lemon crab butter
Add fresh lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the finished sauce.
Ways to use crab butter
The most common way to use this seafood sauce is as a dipping sauce for steamed crabs and snow crab legs. But that isn’t all… It comes with plenty of other uses, such as:
- A dipping sauce for other types of cooked shellfish, like shrimp, mussels, clams, crawfish, and lobster tails.
- Drizzle it on top of sweet potatoes, crispy smashed potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, asparagus, corn, or popcorn.
- It adds a buttery flavor to rice, grits, polenta, and pasta.
- Brush it over different types of white fish, salmon, and scallops as they cook on the grill or in the oven.
- Drizzle the butter over poached fish as a flavorful finishing sauce.
Find your perfect flavor variation by stirring any of these fresh herbs or seasoning blends into the basic crab sauce recipe:
- Lime zest
- Cajun seasoning
- Old Bay seasoning
- Creole seasoning
- Italian seasoning
Any extras can be stored in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. It also freezes well for up to 6 months.
When it’s time to reheat the crab sauce, gently warm it in a saucepan over low heat until the butter is remelted. You can also reheat it in the microwave in 15 to 20-second increments.
Or, instead of reheating, enjoy the solidified clarified butter spread on toast or scooped on top of a juicy steak!
More seafood sauce recipes
- Crab Cake Sauce
- Cocktail Sauce
- Seafood Boil Sauce
- Lemon Butter Sauce
- Remoulade Sauce
- Bang Bang Sauce
Did you make this seafood butter sauce?
If you loved this dipping sauce for crab legs and seafood, I would appreciate it if you gave it a starred review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
For more great Platings and Pairings recipes, be sure to follow me on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Facebook.
Crab Butter Sauce Recipe
- ½ pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
Garlic Crab Butter
- 3 cloves garlic (grated or finely minced)
Spicy Crab Butter
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
Lemon Crab Butter
- ½ lemon (juiced )
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Add the butter to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to boil for one minute.
- Remove the butter from the heat and allow to cool, without stirring, until the milk solids rise to the top. Skim off the solids with a spoon and pour the butter into a serving bowl or glass measuring cup.
- Season with a pinch of salt, to taste.
- If desired, stir in additional seasonings. Enjoy!
- Any extras can be stored in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. It also freezes well for up to 6 months.
- When it’s time to reheat the crab sauce, gently warm it in a saucepan over low heat until the butter is remelted. You can also reheat it in the microwave in 15 to 20-second increments.