Balsamic Benihana Sauce Will Turn Any Vegetable Into A Scene-Stealer

Twitter is often described as a noxious, repugnant cesspool of human garbage, but it's not all bad. Why, just a few weeks ago I caught a tweet from @RadicalHearts revealing the "secret recipe" for Benihana's garlic butter sauce. I have never been to Benihana before, so I wasn't (and still am not) sure of its pedigree, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the ingredient list for this recipe calls for "hella garlic":

Here's how you make Benihana's garlic butter sauce:

  • Two sticks of butter
  • Hella garlic, like 3-4 bulbs
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Soy sauce

1. Separate garlic cloves from bulb, put in a bowl and pour hot water over to cover cloves (makes it easy to peel later)

2. Gently melt butter over low heat in sauce pan; remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, whip whipping cream until it starts to thicken and increase in volume, but can't quite keep a peak yet; pour into melted butter and fold in

4. Peel your garlic, make your kids help

5. Put garlic in blender, add enough soy sauce to just barely cover the garlic

6. Blend until smooth

7. Add to butter, mix until smooth

8. Optional—add a splash of lemon juice if that's your business (I skip this)

9. Season with S&P, you won't need much of either.


Guys, this is a lot of garlic. Like, a lot. Fortunately, I love garlic so I don't mind it one bit, but seriously, this will punch you in the mouth a little bit (or a lotta bit). You'll also notice this recipe requires a lot of butter. In fact, when you refrigerate the leftovers of this, it sets up like a compound butter. And compound butters are awesome, especially during grilled vegetable season. During the summer I'll find myself eating grilled vegetables a few times a week not just because they're tasty, but because they're mindless. And to keep them from getting boring, I like tossing them in a little bit of compound butter before they go on the grill, then throwing a little pat on top once they come off to counteract any nutritional benefit the vegetables might have.

For this interpretation, I decided to use balsamic vinegar instead of soy sauce, because I like a little acid on my vegetables. The sauce is thick and viscous, which makes it cling to even the flimsiest of vegetables (that's right, asparagus, I'm talking to you). As it grills, the raw garlic cooks right along with the vegetables. This recipe makes a solid pint of "Benihana sauce," which you can keep in your fridge or freezer for whenever you need to make something mindless absolutely magical.

Balsamic “Benihana” Garlic Sauce

  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • In a mini food processor or using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the garlic with the balsamic, honey, and kosher salt. It's okay if it's not 100% smooth right now—just get it into the tiniest pieces possible. Put it in a small bowl, add more balsamic (if needed) to cover the garlic completely, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least one hour, or overnight—the longer it sits, the more the garlic will mellow.


    When ready, return to the mini food processor or mortar and pestle and process the cream until it's thickened; remove to a bowl. Melt the butter, then allow it to sit at room temperature until it's cool. Put 1/3 of it into your processing device with the garlic-balsamic mixture and puree. Repeat two more times with the remaining butter, processing each time until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream. Taste for seasoning, adding more honey and salt as you like.