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Peppercorn sauce in a pan with steak

Peppercorn Sauce

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x


Peppercorn sauce is the perfect accompaniment to a juicy steak, or even some roasted veg, or chicken. Creamy, rich & warming, it takes only minutes to make!

The default recipe serves 2.


  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp finely diced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup cognac (see note 1,2)
  • 125ml / 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 85ml / 1/3 cup double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar and pestle (see note 3)


  1. Heat the butter in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes until softened. (see note 4)
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring frequently to stop it sticking. 
  3. If you want to flambé the sauce (set the alcohol alight in the pan): increase the heat to high and, standing back with outstretched arms, tilt the pan away from you. Pour in the cognac and use a long match or lighter to set the alcohol alight. Swill the pan a few times and the flame will disappear after a few moments as the alcohol burns out. (see note 5,6)
  4. If you don’t want to flambé the sauce: Carefully pour in the brandy, keeping it away from the flames if you are cooking on a flame/gas hob/stove. Stir everything for a minute or two until the cognac has reduced down and the alcohol evaporated. 
  5. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes until reduced by half. 
  6. Add the cream and pepper and simmer for a further 2 minutes until thickened. Season to taste.


  1. You can use a good quality brandy instead of cognac. Or you can try with whisky for a smoky flavour.
  2. The alcohol burns out during the cooking process, but if you don’t want to use any alcohol you can increase the amount of stock and add a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. 
  3. Use 1 tbsp of peppercorns before crushing. I don’t recommend milling it in a pepper grinder as you want a coarsely crushed texture. You can also place them in a plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. 
  4. If you are making this to go with steak or another pan-fried meat, then you can use the same pan used to cook the steak while it rests and use any deliciously flavoured residual oil or butter.
  5. For safety, measure out the cognac separately into a glass before adding it to the pan. 
  6. You can also tilt the pan slightly into the flame if you are using a gas cooker, although it is trickier to get right – and be careful!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Hob / Stove
  • Cuisine: French


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 320
  • Fat: 26g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Protein: 1g

Keywords: sauce, pepper, cream, indulgent, steak, cognac, brandy