Espagnole: A Basic Brown Sauce

Espagnole recipe

The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 75 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
61 Calories
3g Fat
6g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 61
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 237mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 2g
Calcium 29mg 2%
*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.)

Espagnole (pronounced like the word for Spanish: español) is a basic brown sauce that is one of the five mother sauces of classical cuisine. It's also the starting point for a rich and deeply flavorful sauce called demi-glace, which is traditionally served with red meats.

Making Espagnole sauce is not too different from making velouté—they're both essentially stock-based sauces thickened with roux. Where they differ is that Espagnole​ is made with brown stock (i.e. beef stock, and see the note below), and it includes additional ingredients, such as tomato purée (which adds color and acidity), and mirepoix, which is a fancy name for chopped up carrots, celery, and onions (which add a tremendous amount of flavor and aroma).

You'll also see something called a sachet, which is simply a few dried herbs and spices bundled up in cheesecloth and tied with a long piece of cooking twine to make it easy to fish it out afterward.

To make demi-glace, you'd combine equal parts Espagnole and brown stock along with additional mirepoix (and probably another sachet) and reduce it by half (hence demi). Here's a shortcut method.


  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 to 4 fresh parsley stems
  • 7 to 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1-ounce clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup onions (diced)
  • 1/4 cup carrots (diced)
  • 1/4 cup celery (diced)
  • 1-​ounce all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups brown stock (i.e. beef stock)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for espagnole brown sauce
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Fold the bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems, and peppercorns in a square of cheesecloth and tie the corners with a piece of kitchen twine. Leave the string long enough so that you can tie it to the handle of your pot to make it easier to retrieve.

    Fold the bay leaf
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy.

    Melt butter over medium heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Add the mirepoix—onions, carrots, and celery—and sauté for a few minutes until it's lightly browned. Don't let it burn, though.

    Add mirepoix
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the mirepoix a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated and forms a thick paste (this is your roux).

    Stir flour
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. Lower the heat and cook the roux for another 5 minutes or so, until it just starts to take on a very light brown color. Don't let it burn, though!

    Lower heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. Using a wire whisk, slowly add the stock and tomato purée to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it's free of lumps.

    Add stock
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  8. Bring to a boil, lower heat, add the sachet, and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 1/3, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn't scorch at the bottom of the pan.

    Bring to a boil
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  9. Use a ladle to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

    Skim off impurities
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  10. Remove the sauce from the heat and retrieve the sachet.

    Remove sauce from the heat
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  11. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.

    Pour sauce through wire mesh
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  12. If you won't be serving the sauce right away, keep it covered and warm until you're ready to use it.

    Sauce in bowl
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  13. Otherwise, serve hot and enjoy!

    Serve hot
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt


  • You can use store-bought beef stock for making your Espagnole, but as always, make sure to use a low-sodium or, if at all possible, unsalted stock. Anytime you're reducing a liquid with salt in it, you'll be concentrating the saltiness, which you might not want to do, especially if you plan to use the resulting sauce to make yet another sauce that you might also reduce. It's better to season at the very end of cooking.

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