If you’ve ever been to a restaurant or pub that serves French dip sandwiches, then you have no doubt tried, or at least seen au jus sauce. French rolls with melty cheese and stuffed with copious amounts of warm roast beef are pretty hard to turn down (or is that just me?).
Au jus is the somewhat thin sauce served on the side of the French dip for dipping purposes (hence the name, right?). It looks like a simple broth, but there are a variety of flavors that mingle with its beefiness.
Simple ingredients are the name of the game in this easy sauce recipe. Nearly everything is likely already in your cabinet — that’s what makes it one of my favorite recipes to make quickly when I am making a weeknight pot roast or roast beef.
Au Jus vs Gravy
One of the things I love about this recipe is that it’s a great alternative to making a beef gravy and it’s lightness makes it a bit elegant for special occasion dinners. That said, it’s also perfect for drizzling over leftover prime rib or open-faced next-day beef sandwiches to bring back some moisture that reheating can take away.
And yes, I can acknowledge that you can get an au jus mix from any number of brands at the grocery store. However, none of those (like most packaged products) can compare to this flavorful sauce.
So, the next time you’re roasting beef in your Dutch oven or making a quick beefy meal in your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, think about making this sauce to dress it up. Or, remember — you can make it without fresh beef juices and refresh your leftovers, too.
What is Au Jus?
French for “with juice,” au jus is a sauce that most often has a beef base. Lighter than most
American gravy recipes, it’s intended to be a light addition that enhances a meal.
One misconception about au jus is that it’s just a broth. Instead, it’s a mixture of broth (and sometimes drippings) with aromatics and just enough of a thickening agent that the sauce drizzles off of a spoon with ease.
The most delicious au jus sauce also incorporates other flavors that lend rich flavor to it. In this recipe I use Worcestershire and dijon mustard to round the sauce out and create an element of earthiness.
Wine is another ingredient that I use in this recipe, not just for deglazing but also for the slight acidity and the flavor it brings to the sauce. If cooking with wine is not for you, feel free to swap it for your favorite substitute.
- Butter or pan drippings – You can use all butter or all meat drippings or determine the mixture that works best for you. The natural juices do impart extra flavor but there’s still so much flavor even with them.
- Flour – Make sure to use all purpose flour. Avoid being heavy-handed to ensure the sauce is the appropriate consistency and not too thick.
- Red wine – The red wine will help you to deglaze the bottom of the roasting pan (or skillet), getting all of the browned bits that are full of flavor incorporated into the au jus. Remember to always cook with a wine that you’d be willing to sip as well.
- Low sodium beef broth – This adds more beefy flavor to your sauce. I prefer low sodium to avoid adding more salty flavor on top of drippings, butter, and Worcestershire.
- Worcestershire sauce – Worcestershire, though potentially hard to pronounce, is an easy way to add earthy flavor to homemade au jus sauce.
- Dijon mustard – Mustard adds a zip of flavor — using dijon is important to add depth.
- Black pepper – I prefer to use freshly ground pepper but your typical table shaker will work as well.
- Fresh thyme – You can use dried herbs, but fresh herbs impart so much more flavor.
- Fresh rosemary – In addition the flavor rosemary infuses, the bonus is that it’s also an amazing herb to promote digestion.
How to Use Au Jus Sauce
- French dip – One of the best ways to use this is as a dipping sauce for a super tasty french dip. Just fill a crusty french roll with beef (or other protein or vegetable if you choose) and dip it in the warmed sauce — add cheese to the sandwich too, if you choose.
- Potatoes – This beefy broth pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes but it’s also delicious as a dip for fries.
- Cauliflower – Mashed cauliflower is delicious with this savory sauce over top but steamed cauliflower mixes well, too. You can also drizzle it over cauliflower steaks.
- Veggies – Most vegetables are delicious tossed with this au jus.
- French onion soup – Try adding some of this au jus to add flavor to your French onion soup whether it’s homemade or you’re dressing up the canned variety.
- Breakfast – Steak and eggs is an obvious pairing, but you can also use it in place of hollandaise to add beefy flavor to a benedict. Or, just drizzle it over scrambled eggs, an omelet, or hashbrowns.
- Sipping – Drinking broth is all the rage and this one would be a tasty version to sip as a snack on a cool day.
- Onion – If you are using drippings you may have plenty of onion flavor infused from the meat dish that you prepared. If not, you can use onion powder, finely minced red onion, or even onion mix soup.
- Garlic – Garlic may also be in the recipe that you used to prepare your original dish, but if you aren’t using drippings, you can try adding garlic powder or crushed garlic.
- Olive oil – If you’re not using drippings you may want to add an extra element of fat. Or, you can substitute it for some or all of the butter.
- Thickener – If you are not using flour, or don’t have it on hand, try using cornstarch. You can also use almond flour or arrowroot for lower carb alternatives.
- Kosher salt – You might have used this on your meat, but if you’re omitting drippings, you could opt to add salt.
- Soy – To add a bit of umami, you can toss in a dash of soy for a unique flavor profile.
Storage & Freezing
Au jus can be stored for 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can also freeze it in ziploc bags or in an ice cube tray. Defrost in a saucepan over medium heat.
Sauces like au jus tend to be muted when chilled, so check the taste and adjust seasonings, specifically salt, if needed.
More Dipping Sauces
Au Jus Sauce (with or without drippings)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or drippings*
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, drippings or any combination of the two. Whisk in the flour, making a paste. Allow to brown for 3-4 minutes.
- While whisking, add the red wine to deglaze. Then whisk in the beef broth until smooth. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, black pepper, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a low simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Au jus should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, but still a liquid and sauce (not as thick as gravy). If it is too thick, add a small amount more of water, beef broth or wine. If it isn’t thick enough, continue to reduce.
- Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, discarding any solids.
- Serve smooth sauce with desired meal.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.