What is Beef Demi Glace? An Overview of This Classic French Sauce

In French cuisine, demi-glace is a rich, glossy sauce made by slowly simmering and reducing meat stock, wine, and aromatics down to an intensely flavored concentrate. The complex, meaty savoriness of demi-glace makes it a versatile ingredient for elevating all kinds of dishes, from steak to stews.

This article will cover everything you need to know about this classic sauce, including how it’s made, how to use it, and how to make a shortcut version at home.

What Exactly is Demi-Glace?

Demi-glace is a classic brown sauce in French cuisine belonging to one of the “mother sauces” of classical cooking. It is made by combining equal parts beef or veal stock and espagnole sauce, then simmering the mixture to reduce it by half.

The result is a dark, thick, syrupy sauce with a rich, meaty flavor and glossy texture. It can take on notes of the wines and aromatics used in the stock and espagnole that comprise it.

Demi-glace is valued for its ability to amplify flavor and add body to a variety of savory dishes, from steak or chops to stews or pot roasts. It’s also used as a base for many other classic French sauces.

How is Demi-Glace Traditionally Made?

The traditional process for making demi-glace is very lengthy and involves multiple steps over several days. Here is an overview:

  • Make veal or beef stock: Simmer bones, vegetables, and aromatics for 6-12 hours to extract flavors. Strain the stock.

  • Make espagnole sauce: Cook onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, herbs, and beef trimmings to make this brown sauce base.

  • Combine and reduce: Mix together equal parts stock and espagnole, then simmer until reduced by half for full-bodied flavor.

  • Strain and chill: Strain the sauce and chill so the gelatin causes it to solidify.

  • Clarify: The solid gelatin is removed and the remaining sauce is clarified for purity of flavor.

As you can see, traditional demi-glace involves a major time commitment. That’s why many home cooks opt for shortcuts using store-bought ingredients.

Shortcut Demi-Glace Method

While not quite as complexly flavored as the traditional version, you can make a very tasty shortcut demi-glace at home using just a few ingredients and way less effort.

Here is an easy method:

  • Sauté aromatics: Cook onions, carrots, celery, and herbs to build flavor.

  • Make roux: Whisk flour into the fat to form a thickening paste.

  • Simmer with stock: Add beef or veal stock and wine, then simmer until reduced substantially.

  • Strain: Once thickened, strain out the solids.

  • Adjust seasonings: Add salt, pepper, or more wine vinegar to taste.

The whole process can be done in just a couple hours rather than multiple days. The key is reducing store-bought stock to intensify the meaty notes.

How to Use Demi-Glace

One of the great things about demi-glace is how versatile it is in the kitchen. Here are some ways it can be used:

  • Drizzle over steaks, chops, or roasted meat as-is for instant flavor.

  • Thicken pan sauces by whisking in a spoonful or two.

  • Use as a base for other French sauces like bordelaise, mushroom, or madeira.

  • Add to braises, stews, or pan gravies as a flavor booster.

  • Mix with red wine and herbs as a quick coq au vin style sauce.

  • Swirl into soups or risottos to add meaty richness.

  • Use in place of stock or water when cooking grains or legumes.

A little demi-glace goes a long way, so start with a tablespoon or two and adjust to taste.

Demi-Glace Substitutes

Don’t have demi-glace on hand? Try one of these substitutions:

  • Beef or veal stock – Adds savory flavor, but not as thick.

  • Gravy or jus – Imparts meaty notes, but a thinner consistency.

  • Mushroom soup – Provides umami flavor, though not as intensely.

  • Store-bought demi-glace – Saves time and effort over homemade.

  • Browning sauce – Also made from beef stock reduced with tomatoes or soy.

For best results, simmer the substitutes to reduce slightly and concentrate flavors.

Tips for Making Demi-Glace

Follow these tips for the very best homemade demi-glace:

  • Use veal bones or a combo of veal and beef for stock if possible. Veal provides more gelatin.

  • Add wine like Merlot or Pinot Noir along with stock for balanced flavor.

  • Gently simmer the sauce so it doesn’t boil. This prevents emulsification.

  • Skim fat and impurities frequently as demi-glace simmers and reduces.

  • Let freshly made demi-glace cool before using for the richest consistency.

  • Freeze extra demi-glace in ice cube trays for convenient use later.

With the right techniques, you can achieve restaurant-quality results at home.

Common Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about demi-glace:

What’s the difference between demi-glace and gravy?

Gravy is thickened with a roux or starch, while demi-glace relies on reduction for body and texture. Demi-glace also has a deeper, meatier flavor.

Is demi-glace gluten free?

Yes, traditionally made demi-glace is gluten-free since it does not contain flour or other gluten sources. Always check the label on store-bought brands.

Can you make demi-glace with chicken?

Absolutely! Chicken demi-glace is common by swapping chicken stock for beef or veal stock. Turkey demi-glace is possible too.

How long does demi-glace last?

Fresh demi-glace will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. It can be frozen for several months.

What’s the difference between glace and demi-glace?

Glace is stock reduced by 90% into a thick paste, while demi-glace is reduced by 50% for a sauce-like consistency.

Elevate Your Dishes with Demi-Glace

Learning to make your own demi-glace at home does take some practice, but being able to add this rich, glossy French classic to your culinary repertoire is worth the effort. Start with the easy shortcut method, master the techniques, and soon you’ll be able to enhance everything from weekday dinners to elegant entrees with the incredible flavor of demi-glace. Bon appétit!

Demi Glace The King of All Sauces | Chef Jean-Pierre


What is demi-glace sauce made of?

Demi-glace is a rich brown sauce that is typically made with stock, espagnole sauce, an herb sachet, and a splash of dry sherry. Spoon it over steak, duck breasts, chops or to enhance other sauces.

What is a substitute for beef demi glace?

*It’s not as good as the homemade stock, but a good quality canned beef consommé can be used as a shortcut substitution. Reduce by half in the same way. **In a real pinch 2 teaspoons beef base can be dissolved in 2 tablespoons red wine as a substitute for demi-glace.

Is beef bouillon the same as demi-glace?

Demi glace (half-glaze) is thick and concentrated stuff. Bullion cubes and “beef base” (that sticky stuff in a jar) are forms of imitation of demi glace, and beef base can sometimes used as a substitute if the salt can be controlled.

What is the difference between glaze and demi-glace?

The word glace means “glaze” or “ice” in French and it is pronounced “GLOSS.” A demi-glace is a rich, dark sauce made by combining half brown stock and half brown sauce (called Espagnole sauce) and then reducing that by half (demi means “half”). Glaces differ from demi-glace in that they are much more concentrated.

Leave a Comment