Classic Madeira Sauce for Roasts and Steaks

Classic Madeira sauce for roasts and plants

The Spruce Eats / Karen Hibbard 

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
71 Calories
5g Fat
4g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 71
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 332mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 302mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Madeira wine is named after the Madeira islands in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Portugal, where the grapes for it are grown. It has a sweet, caramel flavor, but it isn't overpoweringly sweet. There's a smoky, nutty undertone to it as well.

The original demi-glace was actually made with Madeira wine in very complex recipes. Nowadays, these thick, syrupy sauces are half brown stock and half Espagnole sauce, reduced by half, and widely used to flavor other preparations with their concentrated and rich flavor. What we think of today as a Madeira sauce is simply a basic demi-glace that's been enriched with Madeira wine; so the main part of the cooking process of this wonderful sauce is making the demi-glace.

In this recipe, we assume the demi-glace is ready. Although making a true demi-glace is a long process of roasting bones, simmering, and straining, you could opt for a demi-glace shortcut that would cut your cooking time by half. The shortcut recipe uses store-bought broth or stock, but the rest of the process is the same as in the traditional recipe. If you go this route, then making this Madeira sauce is easy enough, as you'd simply stir Madeira wine and butter into your demi-glace.

A perfect choice for red meats, roasts, and steaks, it's also bold enough to accompany venison.


  • 2 cups demi-glace

  • 1/4 cup Madeira wine

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic Madeira sauce for roasts and steaks gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Karen Hibbard

  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the demi-glace to a simmer and let it reduce for about 5 minutes.

    Saucepan with demi-glace

    The Spruce Eats / Karen Hibbard

  3. Stir in the Madeira wine and swirl in the butter. Serve right away.

    Classic Madeira sauce for roasts and steaks with butter added, in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Karen Hibbard

How Madeira Wine Came to Be?

Madeira wine came to be when, many centuries ago, the sailors in Portuguese ships realized that their wine kept going bad on their long voyages. Someone, quite sensibly, suggested adding more alcohol to the wine in the form of brandy, and in this way, a so-called "fortified wine" was born. Fortified wines such as port, Spanish sherry, Italian Marsala, and Madeira are the surviving legacy of this ingenious innovation.

Choose Your Shortcut Demi-Glace Ingredients

Here are a few options for making the most of your cooking time when using shortcuts for making the demi-glace:

  • Making the stock is the most time-consuming part of making a demi-glace. Using store-bought stock means your stock will have less body and intense flavor than homemade stock, but it also won't gel when chilled. When using pre-made stock, go for the organic types, without preservatives or additives, and check the sodium content, as many have too much salt and can alter the final flavor of your sauce.
  • Another option is to use a sauce base. Appropriately referred to as "convenience products," these preparations are even used in restaurants to make their demi-glace. If baking, simmering, and straining bones and vegetables for hours to make a rich stock isn't in your time budget, use these products. Simply add water to these sauce bases and you have instant demi-glace. It's actually a reasonable compromise for cooks who don't have the skills or time to go the classic route.

Madeira Sauce Au Poivre and With Mushrooms

Other classic Madeira sauce presentations are made with peppercorns and mushrooms, sometimes both:

  • To make the au poivre sauce, add 3/4 teaspoon of cracked black peppercorns to the demi-glace when you place it in the pan to heat it up and reduce. Follow the rest of the recipe as is.
  • To make Madeira sauce with mushrooms, thinly slice 3/4 pound of cremini mushrooms and cook them briefly in a non-stick pan, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms to the demi-glace when you place it in the pan to heat it up and reduce. Follow the rest of the recipe as is.