Au Poivre Sauce

This rich French sauce made of pepper, Cognac, and cream is traditionally served on steak, but its equally good on pork or salmon.


Now Eat This!

Published by Ballantine Books

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Editor's Note: Au poivre sauce is often served with steak or other red meat. Made with peppercorns and cognac mixed with heavy cream, this rich and flavorful sauce is a simple way to add something more to your favorite steak recipe. This alternative is a little lighter and just as flavorful. Some chefs like to add extra flavors like shallots or even Dijon mustard to expand the flavor palette of this already yummy French recipe.

This rich French sauce made of pepper, Cognac, and cream is traditionally served on steak, but it’s equally good on pork or salmon. Instead of cream, this version is given body and richness with cornstarch-thickened evaporated milk.

Healthy Tips: Got (evaporated) milk? Try replacing heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cooked foods like sauces, custards, pies, and cakes. At 25 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, compared to 40 calories for cream (and none of those coming from fat), you can have your custard and eat it, too.

Makes1 1/3 cups



Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

Taste and TextureCreamy, Spiced

Type of DishSauces


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots, chopped fine (¼ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed pepper medley
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or Cognac
  • ½ cup low-fat, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Salt


  1. Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the shallots and saute, stirring occasionally, until they are nearly translucent, about 2 minutes.

  2. Raise the heat to high, and add the pepper and brandy to the pan. Simmer the brandy for one minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the evaporated milk into the cornstarch.

  4. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

More French Sauces from

French cuisine is known for decadent and creamy sauces that add a richness to just about any dish. Unmatched in their ability to transform just about any meat into a creamy delicacy, learning how to make french sauces can transform your cooking repertoire.

  1. Meunière Sauce: Perfect for fish.
  2. Hollandaise Sauce: From famed foodie Julia Child.
  3. Flour-Based Brown Sauce: Also known as brown roux.
  4. Bechamel Sauce: Five-ingredients to transform your favorite recipes.


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