I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of demi-glace substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
Got no time to make demi-glace? You can use demi-glace concentrate or whip up a semi-demi by reducing stock with red wine instead. Another quick fix is to whip up a pan sauce and add gelatin. Or if you’re on a meatless diet, make a mushroom based demi-glace.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I seared a couple of steaks to try out different demi-glace substitutes.
Demi-glace is a French mother sauce made from reducing veal stock with red wine or Espagnole sauce. It has a thick consistency and boasts a rich, meaty flavor that can instantly elevate your dishes.
The only catch? The traditional recipe takes hours to make and can get pretty expensive.
I was looking for a substitute that could quickly bring the same robust flavor and complexity to my steaks.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Demi-glace sauce Concentrate||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Glace de viande||Replace with half the amount||10/10|
|Shortcut demi-glace||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Semi-demi glace||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Pan sauce + gelatin||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Vegetarian demi||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Gravy||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
Common uses for demi-glace and their best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for demi-glace and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For serving with steaks and other proteins: Try using demi-glace sauce concentrate, reduced stock, or make a shortcut demi-glace. Adding gelatin to meat drippings also works superbly.
- For soups, stews, and braises: Try using demi-glace sauce concentrate, shortcut demi-glace, or condensed beef broth. Vegetarian demi-glace is also a great option if you want to keep your dish plant-based.
- As a flavor enhancer: Try using demi-glace sauce concentrate, or condensed beef broth. You can also use glace de viande, but only in small amounts.
Demi-glace sauce concentrate
Demi-glace sauce concentrate is a must-have pantry staple if you often find yourself slaving away making a demi-glace.
Simply mix the paste with water, and voila you, have your sauce.
This culinary lifesaver is available from well-known brands such as Knorr and Minor’s, so you won’t have trouble finding it in your local groceries.
There’s even a veggie-glace version from More Than Gourmet if you prefer a plant-based option.
The concentrates have a super long shelf-life, so you can stock up and make sure you’ll never be stuck searching for a substitute again.
How to substitute: Replace traditional demi-glace in a 1:1 ratio with reconstituted demi-glace sauce concentrate.
Glace de viande (reduced stock)
Prefer a homemade substitute for demi-glace? Whip up glace de viande or meat glaze instead.
It’s a syrupy concentrated reduction of brown stock (normally beef) that’s made the same way as demi-glace, but it’s reduced a whole lot more.
A demi-glace is reduced by half or three quarters, while a glace de viande is reduced by a factor of 8-10.
The super concentration means it can last indefinitely in the freezer (I make it into ice cubes), and to make it into a demi-glace all you need to do is add a bit of water.
Pro tip: Simply Recipes recommends making this with homemade beef stock so you can control how salty it gets.
If you want to use store-bought stock, make sure you got for a low-sodium version.
How to substitute: Replace demi-glace with half the amount of Glace de Viande.
Can’t get a hold of veal bones? Try Adam Ragusea’s shortcut demi-glace instead.
It’s a simplified version that uses chicken stock, tomato paste, soy sauce, and powdered gelatin.
The tomato paste adds loads of depth and umami flavor to the sauce and gives it a brilliant color!
Honestly, now I’ve tried this substitute I’m not sure I’ll ever want to make a ‘real’ demi glace again!
Psst… just like the previous substitute, it’s best to go for a low-sodium chicken stock to make sure the end result isn’t over salted.
How to substitute: Replace demi-glace in a 1:1 ratio with this cheats version.
Not a fan of the previous shortcut option? Here’s another shortcut recipe.
This time I’ve called it semi-demi glace (inspired by Julia Childs, and because they needed different names.).
Simply reduce your choice of stock with red wine and you’ll be good to go. It’s not an instant solution, but it’s definitely easier and more beginner-friendly.
Pssst… I swirled in a few knobs of butter towards the end of the reduction process. It gave the sauce a glossy sheen and a touch of creaminess.
Pro-tip: if you’re in a real pinch, you can dissolve Better Than Bouillon Beef base in red wine.
How to substitute: Replace demi-glace in a 1:1 ratio with semi-demi glace.
Pan sauce + gelatin
In a rush? You can get away with transforming regular pan sauce into a faux demi-glace by adding a bit of powdered gelatin.
It may seem simple, but the gelatin will help thicken your pan sauce and give it a rich, glossy appearance similar to demi-glace.
Pro-tip: saute some mushrooms into your pan sauce to give it that umami kick you’d usually get with demi-glace.
How to substitute: Replace demi-glace in a 1:1 ratio with gelatin-thickened pan sauce.
It’s a common misconception that demi-glace’s depth of flavor is beyond the reach of vegetarian cuisine, but this vegetarian demi from ChefSteps proves otherwise.
The base for this substitute is an assortment of vegetables, including umami-loaded mushrooms.
First you need to roast the vegetables to deepen their flavors, and then simmer them in water to extract all that deliciousness.
After straining the water, you reduce it to intensify the extracted flavors from the vegetables.
Finally, xanthan gum and pectin are added instead of gelatin (it’s not vegan!) to get that thick mouthfeel.
How to substitute: Replace demi-glace in a 1:1 ratio with vegetarian demi.
Gravy needs no introduction.
It’s not an exact substitute for demi-glace, but it’s a tasty and easy sauce you can whip up to accompany your meat.
There’s no shortage of instant gravy mixes on the market if you’re in a rush.
But if you have time to spare, I recommend you try making it from scratch.
My go-to recipe is from RecipeTin Eats, which uses chicken and beef bouillon cubes as the base.
But you can also try this recipe if you want to use meat drippings.
And for my plant-based friends, try making mushroom gravy instead (although even meat lovers will drool over this).
How to substitute: Replace demi-glace in a 1:1 ratio with gravy.
Other substitutes to consider
The suggestions above are my top picks for demi-glace substitutes, but here are some other options you can consider using:
- Beef consomme – this is a clarified version of beef broth, giving it a more intense flavor. You can’t use it to replace demi-glace as a sauce, but you can use it as a base for gravies, stews, and soups.
- Au jus – another French sauce made from beef drippings. It’s less meaty than demi-glace but still has a prominent beefy flavor. It’s also thinner, so you may want to mix it with slurry to thicken it. You can whip this up with this easy recipe or simply use au jus mix.
Avoid using bechemal
Bechemal is another one of the mother sauces, but I don’t recommend it as a substitute for demi-glace.
Bechamel is made with roux and milk, which gives it a creamy flavor that tastes nothing like demi-glace. It’s moving way too far away from the essence of demi-glace for me.
You can try to flavor it with bouillon cubes to give a meaty flavor like demi-glace, but then you might as well make a gravy!
9 Best Demi-Glace Substitutes + 1 To Avoid
- 32 oz low-sodium broth
- 1¼ oz unsweetened and unflavored gelatin
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- ½ tsp onion powder, optional
- Saute tomato paste in large pot until it just begins to brown. Deglaze with the broth.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and boil over high heat until reduced to about ⅙ of the original volume.
- Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays.