Parmesan-Basil Butter Recipe

Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Combining herbs and aromatics with butter creates the world's simplest sauce for grilled seafood, meat, and vegetables.

A compound butter flavored with Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, and lemon. Use it on grilled meat, vegetables, or seafood.

Recipe Facts



Active: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Makes: 5 ounces

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  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces; 115g), softened
  • 1/4 cup (about 10g) packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 ounce (20g) finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) juice plus 2 teaspoons (10ml) zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine butter, basil, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor (see note) and pulse until garlic and herbs are chopped and lemon juice is incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Wrap butter tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for several months.

Special equipment

Food processor (see note)


Instead of using a food processor, you can mince the basil and garlic by hand and incorporate all of the ingredients using a fork in a bowl.