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Does lemon butter sauce have carbs?

Lemon butter sauce is a delicious accompaniment to fish, chicken, vegetables and more. It provides a bright, tangy citrus flavor that pairs well with the richness of butter. However, some people may wonder about the carb content of lemon butter sauce due to the butter. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the ingredients in lemon butter sauce and determine how many carbs it contains per serving.

Main ingredients in lemon butter sauce

Lemon butter sauce is composed of just a few simple ingredients:

– Butter – Providing richness and body
– Lemon juice – Adding bright acidity
– Lemon zest – For flavor and aroma
– Shallot or garlic (optional) – For savory depth
– White wine or broth (optional) – To thin the sauce
– Fresh herbs like parsley or dill (optional) – For freshness

As you can see, typical lemon butter sauce recipes don’t contain any intrinsically high-carb ingredients. The main sources of carbs will come from the small amounts of lactose in the butter.

Carb count of butter

Butter gets its rich, creamy texture mainly from milkfat. However, it also contains a small amount of lactose, the naturally occurring sugar found in milk products.

According to the USDA, one tablespoon of salted butter contains:

– 102 calories
– 0g protein
– 12g fat
– 0g fiber
– 0.1g carbohydrates

The minimal 0.1g of carbs in butter is present as lactose. Some brands may have slightly more or less, but the carb count will be very low regardless.

For perspective, 12g of carbohydrates is considered a low-carb serving. Butter provides just a fraction of 1 gram per tablespoon.

Carb content in different amounts of butter

To determine the net carbs in any recipe, we need to look at the total amount of each ingredient used.

Here’s the carb count for varying amounts of butter:

Butter Total Carbs
1 tbsp 0.1g
2 tbsp (1 oz) 0.2g
4 tbsp (2 oz) 0.4g
6 tbsp (3 oz) 0.6g
8 tbsp (4 oz) 0.8g

As you can see, even large amounts of butter provide 1 gram or less of carbs.

Carb content of other ingredients

Aside from butter, the other ingredients in lemon butter sauce contain minimal carbs:

– Lemon juice – Less than 1g carbs per fluid ounce
– Lemon zest – No carbs
– Shallot or garlic – Around 5g carbs per 3.5 ounces
– Herbs – Negligible carbs
– Wine or broth – Around 1-2g carbs per cup

In typical recipe portions, these supplemental ingredients add just a trace amount of carbs. The butter remains the main source.

Carb content in a whole recipe

Most lemon butter sauce recipes call for 2-4 tablespoons of butter per serving.

Let’s look at the net carbs for a whole recipe, assuming 4 servings:

Ingredient Amount Total Carbs
Butter 8 tbsp (4 oz) 0.8g
Lemon juice 3 tbsp 1g
Shallot 2 tbsp minced 2g
Parsley 1 tbsp chopped 0g
Broth 1/4 cup 1g
Totals 4.8g

If split into 4 servings, this sauce would contain around 1g net carbs per serving.

This carb content may vary slightly depending on the exact ingredients and amounts. But in most recipes, lemon butter sauce remains very low in carbohydrates.

Keto and low carb diets

Due to its negligible carb content, lemon butter sauce can fit into a ketogenic diet or low carb meal plan.

Keto diets limit carbs to 50g per day, while low carb diets range from 100-150g carbs daily. Enjoying 1-2 servings of lemon butter sauce should have minimal impact on your daily totals.

Be sure to account for carbs from any accompanying ingredients. For example, lemon butter sauce goes great over vegetables, fish and chicken, which contain some carbs. Portion sizes will also impact the totals. But the sauce itself is a keto and low carb friendly choice.

Low carb substitutions

For an even lower carb lemon butter sauce, you can make a couple modifications:

– Use heavy whipping cream instead of broth to thin the sauce. This cuts down on the naturally occurring lactose.

– Replace half the butter with cream cheese. This reduces the overall butter content and therefore carbs.

– Use lemon extract and avoid lemon juice. The juice contains a bit of natural sugar.

– Skip shallots or garlic, since they add a few carb grams.

Tweaking the recipe in one of these ways can bring the carb count down even further per serving, to less than 0.5g net carbs.


Lemon butter sauce is very low in carbohydrates, with roughly 0-1g net carbs per serving. The minimal carbs come primarily from small amounts of naturally occurring lactose in the butter. All of the other ingredients provide just trace amounts. Enjoy lemon butter sauce without guilt as part of a low carb, keto, or nutrient-focused diet. The tangy citrus flavor provides lots of flavor without the carbs!