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Sauce Espagnole Recipe: How to make Escoffier’s Famous Mother Sauce

Learn how to make Escoffier's classic brown beef-based Sauce Espagnole - one of the five iconic Mother sauces of French cuisine.
Course Sauce
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Author Johan Johansen


  • 2 liters dark beef stock
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk finely diced
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 leek leaf the green top part
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1.5 tablespoon beef fat can substitute butter


  1. Add a teaspoon of beef fat to a sauce pan and set over medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery and onion to beef fat and fry for a couple of minutes till fragrant.
  3. Add tomato paste and fry for another couple of minutes.
  4. Pour in beef stock and add bay leaves, thyme and leek.
  5. Raise heat to high and let stock come to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, reduce heat back down to medium and allow to reduce at a low boil for about an hour or until reduced by about half.
  7. Strain and set liquid into a bowl, making sure to press down on the solids as you do to release as much flavor as possible, then discard the solids.
  8. Return sauce pan to medium heat and add remaining tablespoon of beef fat.
  9. Once fat has melted, stir in flour with a whisk to form a basic roux.
  10. Cook roux, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn, for about 5-10 minutes until it develops a nutty aroma and a redish-brown color.
  11. Carefully an gradually stir in warm beef stock mixture whisking constantly to dissolve any lumps that may occur
  12. Bring sauce to a boil, back heat down to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  13. If serving the Sauce Espagnole as is, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over beef.
  14. If you plan to create a derived sauce, hold back the seasoning until your final results have been achieved.

Recipe Notes

Many traditional Sauce Espagnole recipes call for making the roux, then adding the aromatic vegetables followed by the stock and reducing till desired consistency before either straining or leaving as is.
I've always found straining a thickened sauce a bit cumbersome, so I make the reduction before the roux, then bring them together and let simmer until the flavors have melted.