Easy Red-Wine Pan Sauce Recipe

Beef in a red wine sauce.
Beef in a red wine sauce. StockFood/Getty Images
Total Time 15 min
Prep 5 min, Cook 10 min
Yield 3/4 cup Red-Wine Pan Sauce

This Easy Red-Wine Pan Sauce recipe is made with just four ingredients and comes together in a snap.

Pan sauces are among the easiest ways to make a flavorful accompaniment for any meat without adding processed foods that are likely to be allergenic. First, the browned bits in the bottom of the pan the protein has been cooked in are deglazed with liquids like wine and broth. The liquid is reduced by half and then a small amount of butter is added to enrich the sauce.

Because the sauce depends on bits of meat that have been cooked onto the pan, known as fond in French (literally, "the bottom," and, in culinary terms, the bits on the bottom of the pan or the bottom or base of the sauce), pan sauces aren't successful in a nonstick skillet, so use stainless steel or cast iron. The addition of butter to the sauce is a traditional French addition, known as monter au beurre, that is completely optional.

This pan sauce is intended for steak, but will work equally well with chicken or pork if you use white wine and a sprig of thyme instead of sage.


  • 1 1/2 cups dry or semi-dry red wine like Beaujolais or Shiraz/Syrah work well here, but most red wines are fine (see Note, below on making sauce with wine)
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh sage (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)


  1. Immediately after cooking meat, remove meat from pan and cover to keep warm (if not using meat in another recipe). Add wine and deglaze pan over medium-high heat. As the wine comes to a boil, scrape the cooked-on bits of meat from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or durable rubber spatula. The bits of meat will become part of the sauce as the liquid continues to boil.
  2. After pan is deglazed, add shallots and saute quickly for about 30 seconds. Add salt, pepper, and (if using) sage sprig.
  1. Reduce heat to a simmer, and boil down until roughly 3/4 cup of liquid remains. This may take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is and the alcohol content of the wine you've chosen.
  2. If using butter, stir cold butter into sauce just before serving, until completely smooth. Remove sage and serve immediately.

Note: This is an intensely flavored sauce, and only a few tablespoons per person should be enough to flavor an entire steak or four chicken breasts.

Making Sauce without Wine

Prefer not to cook with wine? Almost any liquid will work to deglaze the pan, as long as the flavors complement your meat. Broth or stock are the most common alternates. Hard cider works well with chicken, as do clear fruit juices like apple or pear.

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