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What Is Bordelaise Sauce?

Have you just discovered Bordelaise sauce? Perhaps you’ve seen it in a recipe somewhere; maybe it’s on the menu at a restaurant? But what is it, exactly? What is it typically made from, and what does it taste like? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know

So, what is Bordelaise sauce? Bordelaise sauce is one of the five classic French mother sauces. It is traditionally served with red meat and flavored with bone marrow and shallots. The sauce is known for its intense flavor and wine reduction. It also has a thick, rich texture as it typically contains a lot of butter and therefore has a high-fat content.

If you’ve ever eaten steak au poivre, chances are you’ve enjoyed bordelaise sauce.

Or, if you’re looking for a little something extra to add to your steaks or roast beef, then Bordelaise sauce might be just what you are looking for.

However, you only need a small amount on your plate because it’s so rich.

So, let us now continue to explore this creamy concoction so you can set your expectations should you decide to give it a try!

What Is Bordelaise Sauce Made Of?

Bordelaise is a rich and flavorful French sauce made with dry red wine, bone marrow, garlic, and shallots. Although, different recipes call for different herbs and spices, and some even include brandy too!

It is a classic French sauce with origins in the Bordeaux region of France.

Traditionally, it was used to complement dishes made with red meat, such as beef or steak.

Nowadays, it’s also used to accompany other types of food.

There are other variations of the sauce, but the classic sauce is made of the ingredients:

Red Wine

Red wine adds an acidic note to the sauce that helps cut through the meat’s richness.

It also helps to tenderize the meat as it cooks slowly in the pan with all those other flavors.

For the sauce, Bordeaux wine is often used, which is known for being fruity and full-bodied with hints of black cherry and chocolate flavors and notes of oak barrel aging.

This type of wine lends itself well to making sauces because its flavor profile is already full-bodied enough on its own.

Bone Marrow

The bone marrow adds a rich flavor to the sauce that is hard to replicate with other ingredients.

In addition, it gives it an appealing texture because it’s not as thick as other sauces like Hollandaise or Bechamel.

It is also very high in fat, which helps keep the sauce smooth and stable over time. 

If you want to use another kind of animal fat instead of bone marrow, try using duck or beef fat instead.

They both have the same exact effect on the taste and texture of your dish!


The importance of garlic cannot be overstated.

Garlic adds a savory flavor that enhances all of the other ingredients in this sauce, making it tastier than it would on its own.

Fresh garlic is best for this sauce because you want it to have a strong flavor.

If your garlic isn’t fresh enough, it won’t stand up to the other ingredients in the recipe.

If you don’t have any fresh garlic in stock and you’re in a hurry, use dried minced garlic instead.


Shallots add sweetness and spice to this dish; they’re like onions but sweeter—and they also have a milder flavor than many other onions do!

Shallots are a type of onion with a milder flavor than regular onions.

They have a golden color and are used in many French recipes, including Bordelaise sauce.

Shallots add flavor to this classic French sauce without overtaking its other components like onions would do if used instead, which wouldn’t be bad either.

The shallots play an important role in this recipe as well because they help to give the sauce its sweet onion flavor without making it too overpowering for your other ingredients like steak or vegetables, for example.

You should try to use fresh shallots whenever possible so that they have more flavor than their dried counterparts which tend to be much stronger tasting and nearly overpowering when used alone in recipes like this one where only one type of ingredient needs flavoring!

The variations on this recipe are endless.

You can add various spices to the soup stock before you reduce it, such as thyme, bay leaf, or black pepper.

Some recipes call for adding brandy to the sauce while it’s reducing, which will give it a richer flavor when mixed with the wine vinegar and shallots.

The other major variation on this recipe is how much time you spend reducing it—some cooks prefer a thicker sauce like demi-glace, while others prefer something thinner like Robert’s Red Wine Sauce.

What Does Bordelaise Sauce Taste Like?

Bordelaise sauce has a deep, earthy flavor with hints of beef and red wine. It’s rich and complex in flavor, and a little goes a long way.

The flavor of Bordelaise comes from red wine and shallots.

The red wine gives it a slight sweetness, while the shallots add depth with their rich flavor.

The herbs give it just enough bite to give it its signature taste—not too much where it feels overpowering, but enough to let you know you’re eating something special!

It’s rich and complex in flavor, and a little goes a long way.

It works well when paired with the bold flavors of beef, but it can also be used as part of an array of sauces for other types of meats like chicken or duck.

What Do You Eat Bordelaise Sauce With?

Bordelaise sauce is most commonly eaten with steak, roast beef, tenderloin, and scallops. Although, it is a versatile sauce that goes with many different foods. 

It’s a mother sauce for a reason! Its flavors have the ability to harmonize whatever it’s served with.

Although, the texture also lends itself well to more inventive concoctions, too.

For example, you could easily incorporate it into a dish that fuses French cuisine with another type of cooking style or culture.

This would result in something new and unusual but still have those familiar flourishes from your favorite traditional dishes from home.

To get an idea of what you can make this sauce for, take a look at some of the following foods that it’s commonly served alongside:


Bordelaise sauce is a French sauce that is meaty and savory. So, it pairs well with most meats, especially beef.

Steak au poivre is a popular dish that is traditionally served with Bordelaise sauce.

The steak is coated in cracked black pepper and pan-fried until it’s crispy on the outside and pink on the inside.

Roast Beef

A traditional English Sunday lunch usually consists of roast beef (typically top round) served alongside vegetables (potatoes, carrots), gravy, or jus (a thin sauce made from pan drippings), Yorkshire pudding (a savory batter baked in an oven), and horseradish sauce. 

Jus is typically made by cooking down the liquid collected from roasting meat to create a thickened liquid.

This can be achieved by using red wine instead of water or broth for the liquid used during cooking or by adding tomato paste to your jus after it has been reduced down to create a thicker consistency.


Tenderloin is a beef cut known for its tenderness, and it’s often served with Bordelaise sauce because of how well the two complement each other.

The rich, creamy texture of the sauce really brings out the flavor of this meaty cut. 

Try marinating tenderloin in the sauce overnight, then roasting it in the oven until it’s nice and tender—you’ll have yourself a delicious meal that will make your mouth water every time you think about it!


Seafood is another great option for pairing with Bordelaise sauce.

The delicate flavor profiles of seafood pair perfectly with this rich sauce.

Try serving your fish or shellfish alongside some cauliflower rice and a side salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar. 

Seafood can be one of the most delicate flavors out there.

It can also be one of the most difficult to pair with food that isn’t seafood itself.

But when you’ve got a nice slice of creamy white fish topped with a drizzle of Bordelaise sauce right before your eyes?

I’m betting that won’t be an issue anymore!

What Is Similar To Bordelaise Sauce?

Bearnaise and Chasseur sauce are the two most similar to Bordelaise. Both have similar ingredient and cooking processes.

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce is similar to bordelaise sauce in that both sauces use egg yolks as a base and are enriched with butter.

While the two sauces have different flavor profiles, bearnaise sauce has an herby flavor while Bordelaise is richly beefy and red wine-forward.

They both serve as excellent accompaniments for beef.

Additionally, both sauces can be made ahead of time and reheated gently over low heat in order to keep them emulsified—a handy trick if you want to serve these sauces along with a more complex meal like steak Frites or surf ‘n turf.

Learn more: What Is Bearnaise Sauce?

Chasseur Sauce 

Chasseur Sauce is another great accompaniment for beef entrees, pairing particularly well with pork chops and chicken breasts.

Like bordelaise sauce, chasseur sauce is French in origin and uses mushrooms, usually cremini, as one of its main ingredients.

Both sauces use butter for richness, but the rest of their ingredients diverge: chasseur adds a tomato component, while Bordelaise relies on red wine, stock, shallots, and pepper for flavor.

Learn more: What Is Chasseur Sauce?

Interested in learning about more French sauces? Then check out these other guides: