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What Is Madeira Sauce?

Madeira sauce. You’ve just come across it right? But you are not sure what it is? Either was I until I put in the research. So today, I’d like to share with you all you need to know about the ingredients and flavor profile of this sauce. Perhaps , you’ll even get inspired to learn how to make it…or find out where to buy it!

So, what is Madeira sauce? Madeira sauce is a French sauce made with Madeira wine. Other key ingredients traditionally include mushroom, butter, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, shallots, and demi-glace. These days, some people substitute demi-glace with beef stock and, usually, flour (for thickness). 

Madeira sauce is usually served with red meat, particularly roast beef, beef Wellington, or chicken.

So with this in mind, let’s learn more about its uses, various recipes, and similar sauces.

What Is Madeira Sauce Made Of?

Madeira sauce is made by sautéeing shallots and mushrooms with butter, then adding pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and Madeira wine and letting it cook till it forms a reduction. After that, demi-glace is added. Modern recipes often use beef stock and, usually, flour instead of demi-glace.

Madeira sauce is a traditional French sauce made from Madeira wine, thyme, bay leaves, mushrooms, shallots, pepper, butter, and demi-glace.

As making demi-glace is a rather lengthy process (you first have to make Espagnole sauce), many recipes nowadays call for beef stock instead.

Below you will find recipes for both demi-glace and Espagnole sauce.

Again, some people cheat and use beef stock instead of Espagnole sauce when making demi-glace. 

If you use beef stock instead of demi-glace, you’ll be happy to know that making Madeira sauce isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming.

Nor is it time-consuming if you already have some demi-glace at hand–you simply sautée the mushrooms and shallots, then add the wine, peppercorns, and thyme and let it cook till reduced.

After that, you whisk in the demi-glace. 

If you don’t eat red meat, you can make Madeira sauce using chicken stock instead of beef stock or demi-glace.

Note: When beef or chicken stock is used, the recipe usually calls for flour. This is because demi-glace is very gelatinous (thick) and contains a small amount of flour from the Espagnole sauce. In other words, to thicken the sauce, it usually needs some flour if you don’t use demi-glace.

While the above-mentioned ingredients are traditionally used to make Madeira sauce, some recipes call for tomato paste, while others don’t use thyme or even mushrooms.

In other words, you have some wiggle room if you prefer certain ingredients over others! 

If you haven’t heard of Madeira wine before, it’s a wine from the Portuguese Madeira Islands.

The islands are situated along the African coast.

Madeira wine is a fortified wine, meaning spirits have been added to the wine. Madeira wine is also oxidized through heat and aging.

There are four main types of Madeira wine.

  • Sercial is dry and acidic.
  • Verdelho is more smokey and a bit sweeter but still dry and acidic.
  • Bual is considerably sweeter and very dark in rich wine.
  • Malvasia is the sweetest of them all. 

If you’re looking for a substitute, Marsala wine–another form of fortified wine–is a good option.

It also comes in varying levels of dryness and sweetness. Failing that, opt for port, dark sherry, or red vermouth. 

Next time you have steak or chicken, why not try serving it with Madeira sauce? 

Recipe Option One for Madeira Sauce 

  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup of Madeira wine
  • 1 onion
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • Salt and pepper

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Two for Madeira Sauce 

  • 2 cups of demi-glace 
  • ¼ cup of Madeira wine
  • 1 tbsp of unsalted butter

Note: Further down, you’ll find a recipe for how to make demi-glace from scratch!

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Three for Madeira Sauce 

  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 475ml beef stock
  • 135ml Madeira wine
  • 1 Shallot
  • Glass of port
  • Salt and pepper 

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Four for Madeira Sauce 

  • ⅔ cup of water 
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter or margarine 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • ½ tbsp salt, divided 
  • ½ pound of fresh, small mushrooms, sliced 
  • Pan drippings 
  • ¼ cup of butter or margarine, melted 
  • ½ cup of chopped green onion 
  • 1 cup of beef broth 
  • ½ cup of Madeira wine 
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste 
  • ¼ tsp of pepper

For full instructions, look here

Recipe Option Five for Madeira Sauce 

  • 200ml of beef stock
  • 130ml of Madeira wine
  • 100ml of dry red wine
  • 10g of butter at room temperature
  • 10g of flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bouquet garni

For full instructions, look here

Recipe for Demi-Glace

  • ½ tsp dried thyme 
  • 3 to 4 of fresh parsley stems
  • 7 to 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 cups of brown sauce (Espagnole sauce)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Note: You’ll find the recipe for Espagnole sauce below. 

For full instructions, look here

Recipe for Espagnole Sauce 

  • 1 Bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 3 to 4 fresh parsley stems
  • 7 to 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 ounce clarified butter 
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced carrot
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 1 ounce all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups brown stock (i.e., beef stock) 
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree

For full instructions, look here

If you’re not into beef, scroll down, and you’ll find a recipe for chicken Madeira–perfect if you don’t eat red meat.

What Does Madeira Sauce Taste Like?

The taste of Madeira sauce depends on what type of Madeira wine you use–a very dry or very sweet version (or perhaps something in-between). Either way, however, it will taste of the wine, as well as the shallots, mushrooms, bay leaves, and thyme used. It will also have a beef flavoring from the demi-glace or beef stock used. It’s usually quite peppery, depending on the number of peppercorns used. 

In simple terms, Madeira sauce is a savory wine sauce with a base of demi-glace or beef stock.

It is usually flavored with mushrooms, onions/shallots, thyme, and peppercorns.

As some versions don’t call for mushrooms and/or thyme, the taste varies accordingly. 

Madeira sauce is very flavorful, so not at all as mild as, say, a white wine and cream sauce. 

What Do You Eat Madeira Sauce With?

Madeira sauce is traditionally served with beef Wellington and sometimes other red meat and chicken. 

You can serve Madeira sauce with red meat usually (roast beef or steak) or chicken.

Traditionally it’s served with Beef Wellington.

You’ll find that it’s a nice sauce when you have steak and potatoes–you can pour lots over the potatoes!

Gravy lovers who like brown sauce tend to favor Madeira sauce. 

What Is Similar To Madeira Sauce? 

Any red wine reduction sauce that uses beef stock or demi-glace has a similar flavor profile to Madeira sauce. 

There are many different versions of red wine reduction sauces that use beef stock.

Some call for the use of onions, some for the use of herbs, and some for the use of mushrooms–just like Madeira sauce.

While none of the sauces will be exactly like Madeira sauce, they will have a somewhat similar flavor profile. 

When googling Madeira sauce, you’ll no doubt also find recipes for chicken Madeira.

Chicken Madeira is chicken cooked in a sauce similar to traditional Madeira sauce.

As a result, it tastes similar to Madeira sauce!

Naturally, it won’t taste like beef, though.  

Below you’ll find the recipe for chicken Madeira, should you feel inspired to make it!

It’s certainly easier than making beef Wellington served with Madeira sauce.

Beef Wellington is beef covered in mushrooms baked inside a pastry shell. It’s therefore not the easiest dish to make!

However, according to some, it’s well worth the effort, so you might want to give it a go. You can find a recipe for it here.

Note that if you’re serving it for guests, you might want to make it once as a test run before you serve it to anyone else…or just opt for the much easier chicken Madeira below!

Recipe For Chicken Madeira

  • 1 pound of chicken breasts skinless and boneless, about 3 to 4
  • ½ tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 ½ tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound of cremini mushrooms cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups of Madeira wine or a dry red wine
  • 1 cup of chicken 
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, optional
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

For full instructions, look here


Madeira sauce is a classic French sauce traditionally made from Madeira wine, demi-glace, mushrooms, thyme, peppercorns, shallots, and butter. 

Madeira sauce works really well with beef and chicken. It’s often served with Beef Wellington.

You can also make chicken Madeira, which is chicken cooked in a Madeira-style sauce. 

Madeira sauce is a very flavorful wine sauce that will no doubt leave you wanting more once you’ve tasted it!

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