Culinary Arts

What Is Sauce Espagnole? Learn How to Make Sauce Espagnole

Written by MasterClass

May 22, 2019 • 2 min read

Sauce espagnole is a seemingly basic brown sauce by appearance, but it's one of the five French mother sauces that serves as a building block from which a myriad of other sauces can be made.


What Is Sauce Espagnole?

Sauce espagnole is a basic brown sauce that originated in Spain in the late nineteenth century. It was later popularized by chef Auguste Escoffier and became one of the five French mother sauces we still use today. It is a brown roux, to which veal stock and tomatoes are added and simmered until reduced. It serves as a starting point for rich, beefy sauces, such as a demi-glace, and is often served with red meat in French cuisine.

What's the Difference Between Sauce Espagnole and a Demi-Glace?

Sauce espagnole and demi-glace are both rich brown sauces, but the latter is a derivative of the first. After a sauce espagnole has been made, it can then easily be used in a 1:1 ratio with brown stock, then reduced by half and finished with sherry wine—resulting in an intensely flavored demi-glace sauce. It can then be stirred into soups, stews, and risottos to boost the taste or simply spooned over a sizzling steak.

12 Espagnole Derivative Sauces

  1. Demi-Glace: A rich brown sauce that combines one part espagnole sauce with one part stock, and is finished with sherry wine.
  2. Chasseur Sauce: Sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and white wine reduction simmered in demi-glace.
  3. Sauce Africaine: Espagnole sauce flavored with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and herbs.
  4. Sauce Bigarade: Espagnole sauce with duck drippings, flavored with orange and lemon juice.
  5. Sauce Bourguignonne: Espagnole sauce with red wine, shallots, and bouquet garni.
  6. Marchand de Vin Sauce (Red Wine Reduction): Classic French steak sauce with reduced red wine, chopped shallots simmered in demi-glace.
  7. Charcutière Sauce: Onions, mustard, white wine, and chopped cornichons, simmered in demi-glace.
  8. Lyonnaise Sauce: Onions and white wine vinegar simmered in demi-glace.
  9. Bercy Sauce: Reduced white wine with shallots, simmered in demi-glace.
  10. Mushroom Sauce: A classic sauce made with sautéed mushrooms, shallots, and a splash of sherry, simmered in demi-glace.
  11. Madeira Sauce: Demi-glace that’s enriched with Madeira wine.
  12. Port Wine Sauce: Port wine added to a demi-glace.

5 Dishes to Serve With a Sauce Espagnole

  1. Beef tenderloin with sautéed mushrooms
  2. Braised beef short ribs and mashed potatoes
  3. Braised lamb shanks and creamy polenta
  4. Braised pork shoulder and parsnip purée
  5. Steak and a side of crispy french fries

Sauce Espagnole Recipe

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
  • ¼ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups hot beef stock (or veal stock)
  • ¼ cup canned tomato purée
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan set over medium heat, cook the carrots and onion in the butter with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and cook the roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until golden brown in color, 6 to 10 minutes.
  3. Using a whisk, add the hot stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the tomato purée, garlic, celery, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch. Reduced the liquid by about one-third, until sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 35 to 40 minutes. Pour sauce through a sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Learn more about making meats, stocks, and sauces in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.