The Magical Red Wine Pan Sauce Recipe

A basic red wine pan sauce was the thing I really wanted to know how to make when I was first learning to cook.  It takes a meal from homemade to restaurant quality in 5 minutes flat.  O.K. – maybe 7 minutes.  But you get the idea, a red wine pan sauce is fast, easy and delicious.

I spent a few years asking people who I thought knew how to cook, how to make a delicious pan sauce. The answers went mainly like this “Oh just add some liquid to the pan and reduce it.”. Yeah, um … that doesn’t exactly work. But thanks for pretending like you know.

For three years I walked around in a fog, with the big sad eyes of a child lost at the mall, without their mother’s credit card. There had to be a way to make a pan sauce like the ones I’d tasted in restaurants. I mean of course there was … but where WAS this magical recipe?

I’ll tell you where. It was in the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

Truth is, it’s not that much harder than adding some liquid to a pan and reducing it.


Red Wine Pan Sauce


1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 Shallot, minced

3/4 cup, Low Sodium Chicken Broth

1/2 cup red wine or 3 cubes of frozen wine

1-2 tsps. brown sugar (depending on taste)

3 Tbsps. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

Salt & Pepper to taste

After pan frying any red meat (tenderloin steaks are my favourite) heat oil in skillet over medium-high. Add shallot and cook until softened (about 2 minutes) Stir in broth, wine and brown sugar, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Simmer until thickenened.



1. After pan frying any red meat in a non-stick pan, (tenderloin steaks are my favourite) heat oil in skillet over medium-high. Add shallot and cook until softened (about 2 minutes)


2. Stir in broth, wine and brown sugar, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Simmer until thickened.

3. Finish by whisking in cold butter one piece at a time. Off heat, stir in thyme, salt and pepper.

Serve over, on and with meat. Or just eat all of the sauce out of the pan … your choice. For sure you can lick the pan, just maybe wait for it to cool off first.


Click here to see what the heck I’m talkin’ about with the whole frozen cubes of wine thing.



  1. Coot says:

    You can covert the sauce to vegetarian by removing the chicken/beef/fish stock(as the basis for the sauce) and replacing it with vegetable stock, alongside substituting the fond for a mirepoix (A mixture of diced onions, carrots, and celery) alongside other aromatics. Id do something like this

    1. Pre heat pan to medium high, oil, saute mirepoix and a mixture of garlic/shallots, alongside other herbs, depending on the flavors you’re looking to acheive, for about 30/ forty five seconds.

    2. Deglaze your pan with some wine(Id just a white wine for a vegetarian/vegan/whatever sauce as the crisper lighter flavor will pair better, rather than a dryer red wine that mixes better with red meat and pork), cook off a good portion of the wine, until a slight bit remains.

    3. Add your veg stock, reduce liquid by half.

    4. Cut the heat and slowly stir in nickel sized chunks of butter until the sauce takes on the thickness and desired glaze.

    Optional, Strain sauce through a chinois for a clearer sauce.

    2. Deglace the mixture

  2. wanda loken says:

    Haven’t tried this yet but I am anxious to try it!!! It sounds fabulous!!

  3. pat says:

    I ate it right out of the pan. After the steak was gone. Too good!!!

  4. Dana says:

    This is delicious. I used dry thyme (because I am poor, or maybe because I spent all my money on wine…) and it turned out very good. The only thing is, how long do you simmer it before it reduces to the proper consistency. I thought mine was sauce-like enough, and then I added the butter and it was liquidy again. Thanks!

  5. Karen says:

    Misss.malone! I’m so excited you tried the pan sauce recipe! Isn’t it good? Like you said, it’s “restaurant quality”. Exactly what I’d been searching for for year. I get a bit obsessive over things like this. Which I guess is good for you and me, both! And for your man apparently. 🙂

  6. misss.malone says:

    We had this today with slow roasted shoulder of lamb and it was absolutly perfect;”restaurant quality”, the man said! Instead of thyme we used the rosemary though.

  7. vegeater says:

    Would this work if it were made vegetarian? Do you serve it over meat? Do you think it would be nice over roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes for a veg-option?

    hmm…I may have to give it a try…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vegeater! I KNOW this is delicious with mashed potatoes because I eat it that way all the time (along with my big hunk of meat). 🙂 The only problem is I’m not sure how you’d make this “vegetarian” when the base of the sauce is fond from red meat and chicken stock. You could always try roasting some vegetables in a pan, using the fond from that and vegetable stock. I’m pretty sure it won’t taste anything like the original but who knows … you may invent something fantastic. And if not … well you gave it a shot!

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