Quick and Easy Butter Sauce Recipe for Herbs

It’s a weeknight. You’re tired. Spouse is fried. Kids are getting cranky. Grocery shopping didn’t happen. And there it is…the daily question that never goes away. 

What’s for dinner tonight?  

Cooking with herbs and spices, even at the most basic level, can really save your butt in the daily grind. So whether you’re looking for uses for herbs and spices or just a quick and easy recipe here’s an answer. The easiest butter sauce recipe EVER— it will transform the weekday meal into a definite gourmet meal.

Ready? Okay, pay attention now…that’s it. C’mon, lean in a little closer. There are 2 ingredients:

  1. Butter.
  2. Sage. Or tarragon. Or rosemary. Heck, you can get complicated and toss in some toasted pine nuts or walnuts.

These are classic Mediterranean herbs and the simple butter sauce has a sexy romantic Italian name: burro oro e salvia which means, “golden butter and sage sauce.” Except you don’t have to restrict yourself to using the sage. Although the sage is mighty delicious.

How to make Golden Butter Herb Sauce

Take 4-6 tablespoons of good quality butter. (I prefer salted butter.) Melt in a small sauce pan on medium heat until the butter turns frothy then settles down into a golden semi-burnt color (you’ll want to stir a bit with a wooden spoon). Add about a tablespoon of your dried herb of choice (sage, tarragon, or rosemary or even savory). Cook for a few seconds. Done. 

What to do with Golden Butter Herb Sauce

1. Pour it over your pasta. Fettucine would be ideal but tortellini is also quite tasty. You can dress it up to your tastes or with whatever is in the pantry. I added some roasted, chopped asparagus, baby spinach and a handful of sliced up deli ham that I heated up quickly in the same saucepan that held the sauce. If I had green peas I would have tossed those in too. Toasted pine nuts would be also be a tasty addition.

2. This butter sauce would be equally delicious during the summer with pasta mixed with zuchini or other summer squashes. Herbs de Province and summer squash are a great combination.

Serve the pasta with fresh grated parmigian at the table.  

3. Try migrating the sauce over to a white fish and sprinkle in some capers. In this case, I’d use tarragon.

Substitute this butter sauce for the heavier cream-based alfredo. It’s equally satisfying and won’t drown the vegetables.

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1 The Coffee Break March 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I love herb butter and make it all the time! Thanks for this great post, I really enjoyed it ;)

2 Spice Sherpa March 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Coffee Break–thanks for checking in. I like herb butter too. This sauce is a bit different in that in gives a toasted flavor to the butter then infuses the herb into that unique, rich taste. It tastes like it is much more complex than it really is. Love it!

3 Jason Phelps March 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Mmmm, butter sauce.

I made Meyer Lemon butter and put it in the freezer. That and shallots makes for a great way to cook green beans.


4 Spice Sherpa March 26, 2011 at 10:40 am

I remember your Meyer lemon post–loved it! Although I wouldn’t think lemon would be with burnt/toasted butter which is the primary characteristic of this sauce. ???

5 Magic of Spice March 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I love butter sauces, especially over pasta…Nice :)

6 The Mistress of Spices March 29, 2011 at 5:59 am

Sounds super simple and delicious! I need to experiment more with herbs that I haven’t used much such as sage and tarragon. Seems like this sauce would be a great start!

7 Island Vittles March 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm

great tips — pasta, brown butter, some fresh herbs and parm = dinner in a flash! Theresa

8 Jill@MadAboutMacarons March 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

I just loved your post and enjoy your style of writing. I’ve made sage butter before but haven’t tried it with other herbs, funnily enough. Amazing how we get stuck in a rut. Must try it with the tarragon and chicken… You’re brillliant. Haven’t had time to shop today and you’ve just helped me organise dinner from nought! Merci :-)

9 Spice Sherpa March 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

A simple dinner in a flash…that’s for me! Jill–Welcome to Spice Sherpa and thank you for the compliments. I sound like an ad here but I think we all agree that butter makes it better! :-)

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