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A reduced-fat, gluten-free, creamy lemon sauce
Creamy sauces, particularly those made with tons of butter and heavy cream, are a delightful guilty pleasure. But if you’re a bit more health-conscious, like me, they can make you feel like you need to get on your knees and repent afterward (yeesh!). But now, there’s no need to add your latest meal to your prayer list. Try this lighter version of a creamy lemon sauce made with a little butter, garlic, thyme, cornstarch, stock, and the not-so-heavy, half-and-half.
In this case, it makes for a delectable drizzle on a basic baked salmon fillet.
Why you should skip the heavy cream and use half-and-half instead
Did you know that one (1) cup of cream is about 85-88g of fat! (I think that deserves a shock face emoji, with a gasp!) On the other hand, the same measurement of half-and-half is only a third (1/3) of that at about 25-28 g of fat. Aah…that’s much better.
If you are a creamy sauce fanatic, you may be skeptical about whether half-and-half can achieve the same richness and creamy texture that heavy cream so effortlessly provides. Well, I’m here to testify, my friend, that it can! With a little help from cornstarch, that is.
A little bit of cornstarch acts as a thickening agent when added to the sauce. And as the sauce cooks and is reduced, it creates a creamy consistency, similar to heavy cream. This means that you can enjoy more creamy, saucy delectable-ness with less concern about completely exceeding your daily fat intake for the day. Hallelujah!
What you’ll need to make it
Not much! All you need are a few simple ingredients from your pantry and a few cooking tools.
- Butter or plant-based margarine
- Garlic paste* OR minced garlic
- Fresh or dried thyme
- Broth or stock of your choice (if using beef broth or stock expect a slightly darker sauce)
- A lemon
- Half and half
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper (to your taste)
- Lemon zest (This is optional…I left it out this time because I was feeling lazy (smirking))
*This product recommendation is unpaid and unsponsored by Gourmet Garden.
- Measuring cups and spoons (these gold ones are super cute!)
- A small skillet (used one from this stainless steel cookware set)
- A metal or wooden spoon
How to make Creamy Lemon Thyme Sauce: Step-by-step
1. Saute the aromatics in a little butter
Using just a little bit of butter with fragrant garlic and thyme provides that delicious base for this creamy sauce. In a small skillet on low-medium heat, add these ingredients and saute for 1-2 minutes to allow the thyme to release its oils.
2. Add stock and lemon, then reduce
Pour in any stock of your choice. Then, bring the sauce to life with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice. Feel free to add a little zest if you want an even stronger lemon flavor. Allow the broth to simmer until it reduces by half, about 7-10 minutes.
3. Pour in the half-n-half (cornstarch) slurry to make it creamy
Here is where the reduced-fat creamy magic happens! While the broth is reducing, combine the half-and-half and cornstarch to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the reduced stock and stir together until it creates a creamy consistency, about 4-5 minutes.
To make sure the sauce is the right consistency, coat the back of a spoon and run your finger down the middle. A clean streak should be made that does not drip. Once this is achieved, move the skillet from the heat to prevent the sauce from thickening any further.
4. Serve with fish, chicken, and veggies
Drizzle the sauce over fish, chicken, or protein of choice and serve with your favorite vegetables (spaghetti squash and kale are shown here). Enjoy! (See the Baked Salmon Recipe below.)
Now, you can achieve your health goals while indulging in a delicious fat-reduced, gluten-free creamy lemon sauce. Good job!
Pin this creamy lemon sauce recipe
More easy and creamy sauce recipes
Chipotle Cumin Aioli makes for a zesty condiment on a sandwich or taco. Pasta with Spinach Cream Cheese Sauce is quickly whipped up in a food processor with a little pasta water. Both are colorful and packed with flavor!
Watch how to make it
- 1 TB butter or plant-based butter
- 1 tsp garlic paste* OR 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs OR about 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 c broth or stock of choice
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 c half and half
- 1 1/8 tsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Add salt and black pepper to taste
- Lemon zest, optional
- Saute the aromatics. In a small skillet on low-medium heat, add the butter, garlic, and thyme. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the stock and juice. Next, pour in the broth or stock and squeeze in the lemon juice. Allow the broth to simmer until it reduces by half, about 7-10 minutes.
- Make the slurry. While the broth is reducing, combine the half and half and cornstarch to make a slurry.
- Thicken the sauce. Add the slurry to the reduced stock and stir the sauce until it creates a creamy consistency, about 4-5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and lemon zest, if desired, at this stage. To make sure the sauce is the right consistency, coat the back of a spoon and run your finger down the middle. A clean streak should be made that does not drip. Once this is achieved, remove the skillet from the heat to prevent the sauce from thickening any further. Remove the thyme stems before serving.
- Drizzle the sauce over fish, chicken, or protein of choice and serve with your favorite vegetables (spaghetti squash and kale are shown here). Enjoy! (See Baked Salmon Recipe in Notes section below.)
* Gourmet Garden Garlic Stir-in Paste. (This product recommendation is unpaid and unsponsored by Gourmet Garden.)
Baked Salmon Recipe
- 4 salmon fillets, skinless (6-8oz each)
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Season the salmon filets on each side with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then, place them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake the salmon for 8-12 minutes or to the desired doneness.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 135Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 382mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used. I am not a doctor, nor a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Please consult your personal physician with any questions you may have regarding your own health and diet.