Demi-glace is a thick dark brown sauce and a staple in French cuisine. The word glace comes from the French term for glaze, which is most frequently used to describe sauces.
It normally accompanies steak, duck, and pork, but is a great flavour enhancer as a stand-alone sauce and can add a meaty gelatinous richness to any stew.
The main ingredients of a demi-glace are chicken or beef stock, as both are packed with flavour.
Demi-glace has a largely salty, meaty, and rich taste due to the high levels of sodium used in it. However, there is also a slight sweetness to demi-glace as the sauce can often caramelize whilst cooking.
Best Demi Glace Substitutes
As already mentioned, demi-glace is not reserved solely for fine dining but it can also be made or eaten at home.
You can buy demi-glace in most supermarkets and online shops, or even attempt to make it yourself.
However, demi-glace may not always be available to buy or you may not have enough time to make it.
Most demi-glace recipes take at least 12 or so hours, some shortcut recipes offer just under two hours but it may not be the same.
The following ingredients are great substitutes for demi glace, keep reading and pick your favourite.
1. Chicken demi-glace
This may seem like just another demi-glace, however, traditional demi-glace is in fact made from either beef or veal. This means that chicken demi-glace is quite different to traditional demi-glace.
To make a chicken demi-glace, first boil some chicken wings and bones in a stock pot – make sure that you cover it with a lid.
Then add white wine, celery, carrot, onion, and herbs to the stock pot and continue to let it brew.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, make sure you strain it. This will leave you with a thick dark brown chicken demi-glace, almost identical to a traditional demi-glace.
This may seem like a great demi-glace substitute, however, you do need to plan in advance for this sauce as the total preparation and cooking time is around 13 hours.
2. Condensed stock
Condensed stock is arguably one of the best, and most time efficient, substitutes for demi-glace as the stock can be simply purchased from most supermarkets.
Condensed stock usually comes in the form of a paste and is most often beef based. Simply mix the paste with you’re the rest of your dish over a heat and let it work its magic. Once the paste has formed a sauce-like mixture, it is ready to eat.
If you want an even richer flavour or a closer mimic to a traditional demi-glace, mix your condensed stock paste with some red wine whilst heating it up.
Like a traditional demi-glace, condensed stock has a very strong and rich taste so it is not advised to use a lot of paste. Instead, gradually mix the paste until the richness of the sauce is to your liking.
3. Beef gravy
Beef gravy is perhaps the most obvious substitute for demi-glace. It comes in two forms: either ready-made beef gravy in a jar or beef gravy in a powder form. Both have a similar outcome.
If you are using beef gravy in a jar, simply add the sauce to your dish until it is heated up. If you choose to use beef gravy in a powder form instead, mix the powder with a cup of flour and two cups of water.
This should begin to reduce and create a thick sauce. If the sauce is too thick, keep gradually adding more water until it is to your liking.
Beef gravy is a great substitute as it shares the same texture, colour and thickness as demi-glace. Again, it is an easy time efficient substitute that tastes very similar to the real thing.
Also check: 10 Best Browning Sauce Substitutes
4. Beef stock
Similar to beef gravy, beef stock is a very close imitation to demi-glace. When cooked, beef stock has a very strong flavour and a good level of thickness.
Beef stock often lacks the same texture as demi-glace so it may not always be what you require. To fix this difference, simply add a cup of flour gradually to the sauce until the thickness is to your liking.
Many people who use beef stock as a substitute for demi-glace do not rate it highly. This is because they fall at the first hurdle and mix the stock with water. This reduces the quality and thickness of the sauce.
Instead, to get a near imitation of demi-glace, mix beef stock with two cups of red wine, which will result in a similar rich thickness.
5. Vegetable Stock
Vegetable stock is a highly rated vegetarian friendly alternative to a traditional demi-glace. Although it may not seem half as thick as a demi-glace at first, you can easily change this.
Add vegetable stock to a saucepan and add gradually add a cup of flour whilst the stock boils. Keep the stock over the heat until it reduces into a thick sauce.
It is easy to tell when your vegetable stock is close to the texture of demi-glace as it will become difficult to stir the spoon through the thick mixture.
6. Mushroom gravy
Mushroom gravy is another highly rated vegetarian substitute for demi-glace. Although it does not taste the same due to its meatless recipe, the flavour is equally as delicious and arguably as close as a vegetarian substitute may get to the real thing.
Mushroom gravy is described as earthy, rich, and flavourful, which makes it the ideal substitute for vegetarians or those who dislike meat.
This gravy is quite easy to make. First make a roux from butter and flour – stir this mixture continuously over the heat until it forms a sauce.
Then add chopped mushrooms to your sauce and stir. Keep it on the heat until the mixture begins to reduce, which will leave you with a thick sauce.
7. Red Wine
Red wine sauce is a great substitute for demi-glace. Its thick, rich, juicy flavour means it is very similar to the real thing.
Making a red wine sauce is arguably the easiest way to make a substitute. First, mix red wine with either flour or cornstarch over the heat until it thickens and eventually reduces. Just keep stirring!
This substitute is a very bold choice, and it is certainly not for the unadventurous or fussy eaters.
Red wine is however a great substitute, but what it makes up for in richness it does lack in subtlety, so it may be too rich for some people’s taste.
8. Bechamel Sauce
Bechamel sauce may seem like an unlikely candidate for a demi-glace substitute, however, it is a very delicious and unique imitation. Bechamel sauce is used in a range of dishes due to its versatility.
The classic French sauce is quick and easy to make. Simply mix milk, butter and flour over the heat; gradually add flour until the sauce is thick enough for your liking.
However, the sauce can very quickly thicken and even burn, so you must keep a watchful eye whilst it is over the heat. But if you make your bechamel sauce too thick, it is very easy to thin out by simply adding more milk.
9. Beef Bouillon
Beef Bouillon is a good imitation for demi-glace as it shares the same meaty flavour. It is advised to opt for the low-sodium version of Bouillon cubes as it can be very salty.
Simply add a Bouillon cube to your dish, normally three are the equivalent to the taste and thickness of a demi-glace. Keep stirring the cubes until it has dissolved.
As with other substitutes, add a little red wine to increase the richness of your sauce.
10. Better than Bouillon
Not so different to Beef Bouillon cubes, Better than Bouillon is a thick paste that is very similar to demi-glace.
As with Bouillon cubes, try and opt for low sodium Better than Bouillon as again it could make your dish too salty should you opt for the normal sodium alternative.
To use Better than Bouillon, dissolve four teaspoons of the paste in two cups of boiling water to create a stock.
Add more Better than Bouillon if you would like to thicken your sauce, although it is unlikely you will need to as it is a pretty good imitation of demi-glace.
How to make demi-glace
Demi-glace is most frequently seen in high end restaurants as it is quite an expensive sauce.
However, it is not entirely reserved for fine dining and can be enjoyed as a home comfort. Making demi-glace at home can be simple.
But first you must make the basis of an espagnole sauce, a French sauce made from beef or veal stock combined with tomato paste and reduced, which you must then combine with beef stock.
Simmer your demi-glace mixture until it reduces by at least half. This step is crucial because reducing the stock increases the thickness of the sauce and makes sure that it is packed full of flavour.
Once your mixture has been reduced by half, strain the sauce to remove any lumps or unreduced mixture. After this, add the essential component to achieve a rich sauce – sherry wine.
Now that you have made your demi-glace, it can be stored in the fridge for around two weeks – much longer than its stock counterpart, which should only be kept in the fridge for two days.
You can even store demi-glace in the freezer. Pour your demi-glace into an ice cube tray so that you can easily access and defrost it in the future.
Can I use stock instead of demi-glace
Stock is a brilliant imitation to demi-glace as shown in the previous alternatives. It is tasty, easy to use and is very time efficient.
Although some people may be put off using stock because of its quite thin consistency, it can very easily be thickened.
Simply add cornstarch to your stock until it reaches the same thick consistency as a demi-glace.
But be careful to gradually add cornstarch as too much can lead to a gloopy almost glue-like texture.
However, some people may still argue that stock is a poor substitute for demi-glace as it does not always have the same depth of flavour as demi-glace.
Stock can become quite salty when it is reduced so using it often runs the risk of over-salting your sauce, so it is advised to opt for low-sodium stock alternatives.
So is demi glace the same as Bouillon
Demi-glace is not the same as Bouillon, although it is a very good imitation for demi-glace. Bouillon is often used to flavour soups, sauces, and casseroles.
It is time efficient and easy to use. Simply dissolve the required amount of Bouillon cubes or Better than Bouillon into the sauce to create an instant broth full of flavour.
The similarity between Bouillon and demi-glace is that both are essentially made from stock. However, Bouillon – the cubes in particular – is more dehydrated than a demi-glace and often requires lots of liquid, either water or red wine, to help release its intended flavour.
As mentioned, Bouillon is very salty and it is difficult to find a good balance in your sauce, so try and use a low-sodium alternative instead to achieve your desired taste.
Bouillon comes in a range of flavours such as beef, chicken, lamb and vegetable. The most common as a substitute for demi glace is beef, however, any can be used depending on your liking.
If you cannot find a demi-glace to your liking or just want a different alternative, these 10 substitutes will prove very handy.