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Garlic Butter Baste Default

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This aromatic concoction is, undoubtedly, the world’s most popular baste for barbecue. During my travels on the world’s barbecue trail, I enjoyed variations of garlicky butter in places as diverse as Brazil, India, Malaysia, France, and Turkey. Its virtue lies in its simplicity—the reek of garlic and the moisturizing sweetness of butter—yet within these simple parameters, a host of variations exist. Some cooks add parsley, or cilantro, or hot pepper flakes, or paprika, or lemon juice. Others deliberately burn the butter, at least partially, to achieve the golden brown color and distinctive nutty flavor that the French call beurre noisette: hazelnut butter. (Why not make a real hazelnut butter baste by adding chopped toasted hazelnuts and a shot of Frangelico liqueur?) Use the following recipe as a starting point, customizing the flavorings to suit your taste.

Yield: Makes 1 cup; enough for 2 to 3 pounds of seafood or meat



  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground or cracked black pepper


  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped toasted hazelnuts or almonds (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest


Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and pepper and any of the optional flavorings (except the lemon juice), if using, and cook until the garlic pieces are translucent and fragrant, but not brown, 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice. The baste can be made ahead of time, but it’s so quick and easy to prepare, you might as well make it as you need it. If storing, transfer to a jar, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. The baste will keep for several weeks. Reheat to melt the butter before using.


For a milder garlic flavor, peel the cloves and gently crush them with the side of a cleaver, but do not chop. Cook them in the butter until soft, fragrant, and just beginning to brown.

For beurre noisette flavor, cook the butter over medium heat until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is translucent and fragrant and the butter is golden brown.

For a Mediterranean accent, prepare the baste with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. For extra flavor, add a sprig of rosemary.


Try This!

Everything is fair game for this baste, including bread (grilling is the best way I Know to make garlic bread), vegetables (especially mushrooms and corn), all types of seafood, poultry, meats, sweet-breads, and starches, such as grilled polenta or grits.

Brush the baste on the food while it’s grilling, using a long-handled basting brush. Take care to brush just enough baste on the must to coat it. Don’t slop it on, or the dripping butter will catch fire, resulting in flare-ups and giving a sooty taste to your food.

In many recipes in this book you’ll be instructed to toast sesame seeds or nuts in a dry skillet. The reason is simple: Toasting intensifies their flavor, adding a smoky dimension as well. To toast sesame seeds or nuts, preheat a dry heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds or nuts and toast, shaking the pan to ensure even toasting, until lightly colored and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer the seeds or nuts to a bowl. (If you leave them in the pan, they’ll continue to cook, and possibly burn, even after the pan is off the heat.) If you’ve never toasted sesame seeds or nuts, you’ll be amazed at how much this simple procedure boosts the flavor.

© 2000 Steven Raichlen

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 16 servings.

52kcal (3%)
3mg (0%)
0mg (0%)
49mcg RAE (2%)
15mg (5%)
41mg (2%)
4g (18%)
6g (9%)
0mg (0%)

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