Drawn Butter Sauce

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OK, hands up, how many of you think drawn butter is just melted butter? And how many think it’s melted, clarified butter?

Well, your 19th century peers would disagree with you.

While many modern cooks, and even a few chefs, will tell you that drawn butter is just melted butter, the truth is, it really isn’t. Drawn butter sauce is just that, a true sauce. And every one of my 19th century cook books that lists a recipe for it, agrees.

And to make the point, a recipe for Melted Butter Sauce.

Melted Butter Sauce Recipe
Melted Butter Sauce Recipe

Followed by the recipe for Drawn-Butter Sauce.

Drawn-Butter Sauce Recipe
Drawn-Butter Sauce Recipe

Both recipes are from “The Table” by Alessandro Filippini, 1889.1

The good part is, while it’s not as simple as just melting butter, it’s not much more difficult. It starts as a simple light roux, add water and seasonings, simmer, then temper with a bit more butter. The addition of lemon juice at the end give it a slight acidic edge that is quite nice.

And here’s good part, you can make other sauces just by adding ingredients near the end of the simmer. Want a nice parsley sauce for potatoes? Just add finely chopped parsley near the end. Want a caper sauce for a fish? Just add chopped capers near the end.



Filippini, A. The Table; How to Buy Food, How to Cook It, and How to Serve It.; The Baker & Taylor Co.: New York, 1889.

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