Halibut has a nice, gentle taste so having a sauce that gives it a bit of oomph is really lovely. However, it’s important that the sauce doesn’t overwhelm the fish as it has such a mild taste. So, getting your choice of sauce right is imperative. And thankfully, today, I am going to be sharing with you the best pairings and also advising you on the ones you’re going to want to avoid!
So, what are the best sauces for halibut? Halibut works well with lemon sauce. Dill sauce is another classic. A combination or variation of the two is great, too, such as dill and lemon or lemon and caper sauce. Tomato and caper sauce is another great pairing, as is a creamy garlic and herb sauce. A brown butter and garlic sauce or a bechamel sauce with Parmesan are other alternatives to consider.
Below you’ll find a list of great sauces for halibut and how to make them, as well as some tips for sauces to avoid.
- 1 The Best Sauces For Halibut
- 2 What Types of Sauces Pair Best With Halibut?
- 3 What Sauces To Avoid Serving With Halibut
The Best Sauces For Halibut
Creamy Garlic and Herb Sauce
A nice garlic and herb sauce works well with many fish recipes. This particular sauce is a white wine sauce that goes really well with halibut.
To make the sauce, you’ll need butter, green onions, red bell peppers, garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine, dill, tarragon, flour, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, half-and-half, water, salt, and pepper.
As you can see, this sauce requires quite a few ingredients, but it’s still fairly easy to make.
You begin by sautéing the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and pepper flakes in some butter.
Then you pour in the white wine and add the herbs. Let simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the half-and-half chicken broth, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese.
Season to taste, then bring to a boil over medium heat.
Dissolve some flour in water, then add it to the sauce to thicken it and let it return to a boil before lowering the heat and letting it simmer at a lower heat for about ten minutes, or until it’s reached the desired thickness.
This particular recipe calls for the sauce to be spooned over oven-cooked halibut.
You can find the full recipe here.
Lemon Caper Sauce
How about some pan-seared halibut with lemon and caper sauce?
This sauce is easy to make—just sautée some garlic in fat from the pan you used to sear the halibut, then add Chardonnay wine and cook to evaporate.
Then add lemon juice, capers, and parsley.
Cool for a minute, remove from the heat, and stir in some butter. Then add the halibut to the skillet and scoop over the sauce.
You can serve this sauce with pan-seared halibut, but you can also serve it with halibut cooked in other ways.
For this particular recipe, it calls for using two tablespoons of the olive oil and butter mixture you seared the halibut in as the fat used for sautéeing the garlic.
If you are cooking the halibut in the oven, just use olive oil and butter when making the sauce.
You can find the full recipe here.
Lemon Butter Sauce
Don’t like capers and garlic? Stick to a simple lemon butter sauce instead! Granted, you do like lemon, that is!
All you have to do is melt and brown the butter and then add the lemon juice and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has been reduced by half.
Add salt and pepper, if desired.
You’ll find the full recipe here.
Creamy Dill Sauce
Dill tends to go well with fish. Halibut is no exception.
For this sauce, you’ll need butter, shallots, dill, parsley (if you like), cream, salt, and pepper.
Simply melt the butter, sautée the shallots, then add the cream and herbs and season to taste.
Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat and serve, or lower the temperature and cook till it thickens a bit before removing from the heat.
If you want a thicker sauce, you could make a roux (i.e., after sautéeing the shallots, you add some flour and fry it while stirring, then you stir in the cream and herbs).
For the full recipe, see here.
Lemon Dill Sauce
Want both dill and lemon? Not a problem! Just use this lemon dill sauce.
For this sauce, you’ll need butter, dry white wine, lemon juice and zest, dill, shallots, and salt.
To make the sauce, you cook the shallots in the wine till it has been reduced (in this recipe, till it has been reduced to two tablespoons, or for about 12-15 minutes), then remove it from the heat, add the butter, lemon juice and zest, and dill.
The butter emulsifies the sauce, which only works if the sauce is no hotter than 136 degrees Fahrenheit or 57 degrees Celsius.
If it gets any hotter, it starts to separate.
Tomato Caper Sauce
This sauce is a bit different from most of the sauces on this list as it has a tomato base and contains neither butter nor wine! It’s a very fresh sauce!
It does require some work, however.
For this sauce, you’ll need to chop some onions and mince some garlic and capers, as well as peel, deseed and chop some tomatoes.
Then you heat some olive oil and sautée the onions, then add the garlic and capers and fry for another three to five minutes, or until fragrant.
After that, you add the chopped tomatoes, as well as some fresh thyme and basil.
Sweeten it with a pinch of sugar (tomatoes can get acidic otherwise), and season with salt and pepper.
The full recipe can be found here.
Brown Butter Garlic Sauce
If you like to keep things simple, a brown butter garlic sauce is perfect.
You simply melt and brown some butter, then remove it from the heat. In the pan, you cook the halibut (this recipe calls for pan-seared halibut), add some minced garlic and chopped shallots, or just garlic, if you prefer.
This particular recipe also calls for grape tomatoes, but that’s only if you want to serve the halibut with tomatoes.
Sautée the garlic and shallots (and tomatoes) for two to three minutes, then deglaze the pan with some white wine.
Whisk in the melted butter and serve by spooning the sauce on top of the halibut.
You can season the sauce with salt and pepper if desired. And you can always stir in some parsley if you like.
In a big hurry? You can serve your halibut with melted or browned butter alone. Just make sure the halibut is nicely seasoned and pan-seared.
Sour Cream and Mayo Sauce
Now, this is a recipe for all you people who hate cooking a sauce. I mean, I get it.
If you can stir together all the ingredients in a bowl or blend them in a food processor and be done with it, why bother cooking a sauce?
For this sauce, mix together sour cream and mayonnaise, garlic powder, dried basil and thyme, salt, and pepper. That’s it. It’s that simple.
You should check out the full recipe as they grill the halibut using some of the sauce and add onions, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan. Delish!
Parmesan Bechamel Sauce
You can’t go wrong with bechamel sauce. Well, you can go very wrong when cooking the sauce, but it’s a classic sauce, so if you make a good one, it’s delicious.
This recipe adds one extra ingredient–Parmesan cheese. And who can resist a good Parmesan cheese? Not I!
So what will you need? Save from the Parmesan cheese; you likely have the ingredients in your pantry already!
Milk, butter, flour (as you can tell, it’s a very healthy sauce…not), salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
You melt the butter, add the flour and stir until fully combined (about two minutes–you make a roux, basically); add the milk (it needs to be heated till warm first) bit by bit while stirring/whisking constantly.
Simmer over medium heat while whisking/constantly stirring for about ten minutes–till you reach the desired consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Season to taste.
What Types of Sauces Pair Best With Halibut?
The types of sauces that pair best with halibut are often creamy in nature, and often include herbs or garlic, or both. Alternatively, some sauces introduce tomatoes for some tangy sharpness to contrast the flavor of this particular fish.
For these reasons, halibut is often served with a lemon sauce or a creamy sauce seasoned either with herbs or garlic, or both.
You can use cold sour cream and mayo sauce, but most creamy sauces are of the cooked variety–usually made with butter.
If you prefer, you can make a fresh tomato-based sauce, too.
If you want to keep things ultra simple, you can serve your pan-seared halibut with browned butter.
Most people prefer a little more flavor, however. So a butter and lemon sauce, or a brown butter garlic sauce.
You can also make a lemon and dill sauce or a lemon and caper sauce.
Or simply a dill sauce. Or why not a creamy garlic and herb sauce? These sauces tend to be made with white wine and butter.
You can also make a tomato sauce to serve your halibut with. Usually flavored with onions, garlic, and fresh herbs.
If you want a cold sauce, combining some sour cream and mayo with garlic powder and dried herbs work a charm.
If you like your Parmesan, you can also make a Parmesan sauce using bechamel sauce as the base.
Another sauce that will work well, but hasn’t been included above, is a white mustard sauce. Mustard and fish tend to work very well together.
What Sauces To Avoid Serving With Halibut
Halibut is a mild fish, so you don’t want to go overboard with too strong flavors. For example, while a nice chutney may taste nice with halibut, it will mostly mask the flavor of the fish. On the flip side, a bechamel sauce without the Parmesan might make the meal taste too “washed out.”
You want to find a sauce that complements the mild flavor of the halibut–neither overpowering it nor making it disappear into oblivion.
A plain white sauce like bechamel sauce without the addition of Parmesan would likely make the meal too bland, while something like a very strong salsa would make the flavor of the halibut disappear altogether.
Also, you wouldn’t serve halibut with a mushroom sauce. Nor do you usually serve it with a sweet sauce–though a tomato sauce can have a twinge of sweetness to it.
Oh, and while white wine sauces work well, red wine sauces do not.
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Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.