Espagnole sauce

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Espagnole sauce
Sauce Spagnole-09.JPG
Beef with espagnole sauce and French fries
Associated cuisineFrench
Main ingredientsMeat stock, brown roux

Espagnole sauce (French pronunciation: [ɛspaɲɔl] (listen)) is a basic brown sauce, and is one the mother sauces of classic French cooking. In the early 19th century the chef Antonin Carême included it in his list of the basic sauces of French cooking. In the early 20th century Auguste Escoffier named it as one of the five sauces at the core of France's cuisine.


"Espagnole" is the French for "Spanish", and several suggestions have been advanced to explain why a French sauce is nominally Spanish. In Louis Diat's account, Louis XIII's wife, Anne of Austria – who despite her name was Spanish – introduced cooks from Spain to the kitchens of the French court. Her cooks are said to have improved the French brown sauce by adding tomatoes.[1] A similar tale refers to the Spanish cooks employed by Louis XIV's wife, Maria Theresa of Spain.[2] Another suggestion is that in the 17th century, Spanish bacon and ham were introduced as the meat for the stock on which the sauce is based, rather than the traditional beef.[3] In the view of Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food:

The name has nothing to do with Spain, any more than the counterpart term allemande has anything to do with Germany. It is generally believed that the terms were chosen because in French eyes Germans are blond and Spaniards are brown.[4]


The term "sauce espagnole" appears in Vincent La Chapelle's 1733 cookery book Le Cuisinier moderne, but no recipe is given.[5] Antonin Carême printed a detailed recipe in his 1828 book Le Cuisinier parisien.[6] By the middle of the 19th century the sauce was familiar in the English-speaking world: in her Modern Cookery of 1845 Eliza Acton gave two recipes for it, one with added wine and one without.[7] The sauce was included in Auguste Escoffier's 1903 classification of the five mother sauces, on which much French cooking depends.[8]


The recipe given by Carême runs to more than 400 words. He calls for ham, veal and partridges in the cooking pan, gently braised in water for two hours, after which roux is mixed in and the pan is returned to the stove for a further two hours or more. Is it garnished with "a faggot of parsley, chives, bay leaves, thyme, sweet basil and cloves and parings of mushrooms".[6] Carême is credited with codifying the key sauces – the mother sauces, or in his phrase, the grandes sauces – on which classic French haute cuisine is based. His recipes for velouté, béchamel, allemande, as well as espagnole became standard for French chefs of his day.[8]

Nearly a century after Carême, Auguste Escoffier followed the former's classification of the key sauces, though adding mayonnaise and tomato sauces to the list and removing allemande. His recipe for espagnole, dating from 1903, is briefer than his predecessor's. It calls for brown stock (made from veal, beef and bacon), a brown roux, diced bacon fat, diced carrot, thyme, bay, parsley and butter, simmered for three hours.[9]

Tomato purée is added to the other ingredients in some more recent recipes, including those in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child and in the catering textbook Practical Cookery by Victor Ceserani and Ronald Kinton.[10][11]


Sauce espagnole is the basis for many French sauces. They include:

Sauce Ingredients Ref
africaine Cayenne pepper, madeira, onion rings, diced truffles [12]
bigarade juice and zest of orange and lemon; duck stock, sugar [13]
bordelaise thyme, mignonette pepper, bay leaves, red wine [14]
bourguignonne shallots, parsley, thyme, bay, mushroom trimmings, butter and red wine [15]
aux champignons mushroom stock and small mushroom caps [16]
charcutière onions, white wine, vinegar, pepper, mustard, gherkins [17]
chasseur sliced mushrooms, chopped sautéed shallots, white wine, butter, parsley [14]
chevreuil mirepoix of vegetables, game trimmings, red wine, pepper sauce, Cayenne pepper [18]
à la diable anglaise shallots, white pepper, vinegar, tomato purée [19]
financière madeira, truffle essence [20]
aux pignoles à l'italienne pine kernels (pignoles), sugar, vinegar, nutmeg, pepper, red wine [21]
Robert onions, white wine, vinegar, pepper, mustard [22]
Saint-Malo white wine, shallots, mustard, anchovy paste [23]
venaison game essence, pepper sauce, redcurrant jelly, sugar [18]


  1. ^ Diat, p. 74
  2. ^ Nguyen, Stephane. "French Cooking Academy", at 1m 05 seconds onwards.
  3. ^ Dallas, pp. 412–413
  4. ^ Davidson, p. 283
  5. ^ La Chapelle, p. 163
  6. ^ a b Carême, pp. 63–64
  7. ^ Acton, pp. 105–106
  8. ^ a b "An Introduction to the 5 French Mother Sauces", Escoffier online. Retrieved 13 January 2023
  9. ^ Escoffier, p. 21
  10. ^ Beck et al p. 70
  11. ^ Ceserani and Kinton, p. 22
  12. ^ Bickel, p. 36
  13. ^ Saulnier, p. 17
  14. ^ a b Saulnier, p. 18
  15. ^ Bickel, p. 39
  16. ^ Bickel, p. 50
  17. ^ Bickel, p. 52
  18. ^ a b Bickel, p. 41
  19. ^ Bickel, p. 42
  20. ^ Montagné, p. 846
  21. ^ Montagné, p. 848
  22. ^ Bickel, p. 54
  23. ^ Saulnier, p. 24


  • Acton, Eliza (1845). Modern Cookery. London: Longman, Brown, Green. OCLC 776237549.
  • Beck, Simone; Louisette Bertholle; Julia Child (2012) [1961]. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One. London: Particular. ISBN 978-0-241-95339-6.
  • Bickel, Walter (1989). Hering's Dictionary of Classical and Modern Cookery (eleventh ed.). London: Virtue. ISBN 978-3-8057-0307-9.
  • Carême, Antonin (1834). The Royal Parisian Pastrycook and Confectioner. London: F. J. Mason. OCLC 15160719.
  • Ceserani, Victor; Ronald Kinton (1974). Practical Cookery (fourth ed.). London: Edward Arnold. ISBN 978-0-7131-1853-7.
  • Dallas, E. S. (1877). Kettner's Book of the Table. London: Dulau. OCLC 771590401.
  • Davidson, Alan (1999). "Sauce espagnole". In Davidson, Alan (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-211579-9.
  • Diat, Louis (1979). Gourmet's Basic French Cookbook. New York: Gourmet Books. OCLC 1107861618.
  • Escoffier, Auguste (1989) [1965]. Howells, Marion (ed.). 2,000 Favourite French Recipes. London: Treasure. ISBN 978-1-85-051694-1.
  • La Chapelle, Vincent (1733). The Modern Cook. London: Nicolas Prevost. OCLC 1328833700.
  • Montagné, Prosper (1976). Larousse Gastronomique. London: Hamlyn. OCLC 1285641881.
  • Saulnier, Louis (1978). Le Répertoire de la Cuisine (fourteenth ed.). London: Jaeggi. OCLC 1086737491.

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