How to Make Crab Butter Sauce (4-Ways!)

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)!

Crab feast arranged on table with bowls of butter.

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!

Pouring melted butter into small bowl.

Ingredients

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, tabasco 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:

Crabs on newspaper with small bowls of dipping butter.

Variations

Find your perfect flavor variation by stirring any of these fresh herbs or seasoning blends into the basic crab sauce recipe:

Storing

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!

Crabs on newspaper with small bowls of dipping butter.

More seafood sauce recipes 

​​​​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.

PS – Be sure to check out these 20+ sides for crab legs too!

Small bowl of crab butter next to cracked crabs on newspapers.

Crab Butter Sauce Recipe

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)!
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

  • ½ pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Garlic Crab Butter

  • 3 cloves garlic (grated or finely minced)

Spicy Crab Butter

Lemon Crab Butter

  • ½ lemon (juiced )
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

  • 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.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Small saucepan

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 814IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.