What is a Substitute for Veal Demi Glace? 9 Tasty Alternatives

Demi glace is considered the holy grail of sauces in French cuisine This rich, meaty sauce packs a serious punch of flavor and is used to elevate everything from steak to mashed potatoes. But traditional demi glace takes a ton of time and effort to make at home The good news? You can get remarkably close to the real thing with easy substitutes.

In this article, we’ll break down exactly what demi glace is, why you may want a substitute, and the best options for mimicking its rich, umami flavor. Whether you’re looking to cut corners or just don’t have veal demi glace on hand, read on for 9 tasty alternatives you can use today.

What is Demi Glace?

Demi glace starts with veal or beef stock that is reduced significantly to intensify its flavor. The process generally takes 12-24 hours of simmering meaty bones, vegetables, and tomato paste to achieve an ultra-rich sauce. Once reduced, the liquid is strained and cooled so the fat can be skimmed off the top. What’s left is a thick, syrupy sauce jam-packed with meaty umami flavor.

When frozen into ice cubes, demi glace becomes an incredibly versatile secret ingredient. A single cube can impart intense flavor into sauces gravies soups, and more. It’s like flavor concentrate—a little goes a long way.

So why would you want a substitute? Well, traditional demi glace is very time consuming to make at home. Many cooks don’t have a full day to dedicate to simmering stock. Store-bought demi glace avoids this issue but can be expensive. This is where substitutes come in handy. They provide the same rich flavor without the hassle or cost.

Let’s look at the characteristics we want in a demi glace substitute:

  • Rich, meaty flavor – The substitute should provide plenty of savory umami flavor, like roasted meat bones.

  • Thickness – Demi glace is a syrupy reduction, so we want a nice thick consistency.

  • Easy to use – It should be quick and convenient, not labor-intensive like traditional demi glace.

Keep these qualities in mind as we explore alternatives you likely have on hand!

9 Tasty Substitutes for Demi Glace

1. Beef broth

Beef broth provides an easy shortcut to meaty flavor. Simmer marrow bones, beef shank, and aromatics like onions and garlic to extract maximum taste. Reduce the broth to concentrate it and voila! You have an quick demi glace stand-in.

To thicken beef broth, whisk in a slurry of cornstarch and cold water. Start with 1 Tbsp each, simmer to thicken, and adjust as needed. This gives a nice velvety texture while keeping things easy.

2. Beef bouillon cubes

Bouillon cubes offer convenience without sacrificing flavor. Look for a brand made from concentrated beef stock. Dissolve according to package directions for an instant flavor boost reminiscent of demi glace.

For added thickness, make a roux with equal parts butter and flour. Cook until golden then whisk in broth. The starch from the roux will lend body to the liquid.

3. Beef gravy

Prepared beef gravy is downright delicious on meats, veggies, biscuits—you name it. Look for a high-quality variety made with real beef drippings. Or make your own gravy from pan drippings for the ultimate flavor.

The beauty of gravy is it naturally has the rich, thick texture of demi glace. Use it as you would the real thing to impart meaty flavor and sauce-like body.

4. mushrooms

Umami-rich dried mushrooms make a convenient flavor booster, similar to demi glace. Soak porcini, shiitake, or morel mushrooms to rehydrate, then use the soaking liquid to add deep savory notes.

For an extra punch of flavor, chop the mushrooms and add them too. Simmer in sauces, gravies, and more for a demi glace stand-in you likely have on hand.

5. Tomato paste

You may be surprised to learn that tomato paste is a key ingredient in classic demi glace recipes. It adds savory depth without making the sauce taste overtly tomatoey.

Just a teaspoon of tomato paste per cup of stock or broth replicates that flavor layer. For thickness, cook it briefly in oil or butter before adding liquid. The starch helps create a demi glace-like consistency.

6. Roast drippings

Drippings from roasted meat contain concentrated flavor locked inside. Deglaze the roasting pan with wine or broth, then scrape up every last bit of caramelized goodness. This transforms into an amazing makeshift demi glace.

For a thicker sauce, stir together equal parts fat and flour in the empty pan to form a roux. Cook briefly before adding liquid to thicken gravy-style.

7. Reduced wine

Wine reductions also offer easy, bold flavor. Pour wine into a saucepan with any aromatics you like—garlic, shallots, herbs. Simmer until reduced to a syrupy sauce. The alcohol cooks off leaving only rich, concentrated wine flavor behind.

Just 2-3 tablespoons adds plenty of oomph to pan sauces, stews, and more. A little reduced wine stands in nicely for demi glace concentrate.

8. Caramelized onions

Sweet, caramelized onions contain heaps of savory umami compounds. Cook them low and slow until richly jammy and golden brown. Puree if desired for a smooth sauce-like consistency.

Add a dollop of caramelized onion puree anywhere you want a flavor boost, like pan sauces, soups, even bloody marys! It provides deep, meaty notes similar to demi glace.

9. Mashed mushrooms

Finally, try making a mushroom “mash” with umami-packed dried porcini mushrooms. Rehydrate, then finely chop. Combine with butter or cream cheese, plus any desired herbs and seasonings.

This flavorful mash makes a easy substitute for demi glace concentrate. Stir dollops into pan sauces, pasta dishes, risottos, and more for intense savoriness.

Putting Substitutes to Work

Now that you know the best alternatives, let’s look at how to use them. The beauty of demi glace is versatility. A little adds tons of flavor anywhere you want richness. Substitutes work the exact same way.

Stir a spoonful of your chosen substitute into sauces, gravies, soups, stews, etc. right before serving. This infuses a flavor boost reminiscent of demi glace. For pan sauces, add when deglazing for an instant richness.

You can also mix substitutes into ground meat for burgers, meatballs, meatloaf and more. This amps up juiciness and flavor from the inside out.

Finally, look for ways to incorporate substitutes into recipes as you cook:

  • Add reduced wine or caramelized onions to mushroom risotto.

  • Mix mushroom mash into steak Diane or stroganoff.

  • Roast meats and veggies in beef gravy rather than plain broth.

  • Use bouillon to boost flavor of braised short ribs or pot roast.

  • Whisk a little tomato paste into veggie or meat soups and chilis.

See? You can easily achieve demi glace flavor using things already in your pantry and fridge. With a bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about demi glace and substitutes? Here are some common FAQs:

What’s the difference between demi glace and brown gravy?

Brown gravy is made from pan drippings and thickened with a roux. Demi glace starts with reduced stock for a richer, meatier flavor. The consistency is also thicker and more syrupy.

Is store-bought demi glace a good substitute?

Yes, quality premade demi glace is the closest you’ll get to the real thing without making it from scratch. Look for varieties containing concentrated veal and/or beef stock.

Can I use red wine as a substitute?

Definitely! Reduced red wine adds lots of rich flavor on its own. For a more demi glace-like consistency, thicken it with a cornstarch slurry.

What about onion soup mix packets as a substitute?

Onion soup mix adds nice savory flavor but doesn’t quite mimic the richness of demi glace. Use it as a seasoning boost along with another umami-rich substitute.

Is MSG a good demi glace substitute?

MSG enhances existing flavors but doesn’t provide flavor on its own. Instead of MSG, opt for umami-packed ingredients like mushrooms, tomato paste, caramelized onions, etc.

Quick and Easy Demi Glace Substitute

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