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Quick & Easy Pan Sauce Recipe

Nothing jazzes up chicken, steak, pork or salmon like a savory pan sauce. Pan sauce sounds so gourmet, yet it’s so easy to make. You don’t need a degree in the culinary arts to make this basic pan sauce recipe. 

Pan sauce in a pan with a spoon.

Get creative and add lemon, white wine, or fresh herbs to add your own flair.

Why I Love Making Pan Sauce

We raise chickens for meat on our homestead, and using the entire bird allows us to get the most from our financial and time investments. After a savory meal of roasted chicken with lemon reduction sauce, I use the chicken carcass to make nourishing bone broth.

This habit of making bone broth has led to experimenting with variations, such as bone broth with a secret immune-boosting ingredient

And because we have a large family, it’s not uncommon to have quite a bit of bone broth made on hand. To extend its shelf life, I pressure can the bone broth to make getting three homemade meals on the table each day easier.

While it’s important to have bone broth in a well-stocked pantry, knowing how to use it is equally important. 

A jar of bone broth makes it easy to whip up bread soup for a quick lunch, add a depth of flavor to homemade chicken pot pie and tangy sorrel sauce, or put together a versatile pan sauce to make any dish a little extra.

What Is Pan Sauce

The terms pan sauce and gravy are often used interchangeably, but they are technically different. Flour or cornstarch is a thickener used to make gravy, whereas a pan sauce is cooked down or reduced to make it thicker.

The natural juices, browned bits and fat left behind generated from the cooked protein are the base for a good pan sauce. 

Pan sauce being spooned over sliced meat.

Ways to Use Pan Sauce

This recipe is versatile enough to suit almost any flavor profile. Use pan sauce to top your roasted or pan-fried beef, chicken, fish or pork. 

Pan sauce also pairs well with rice, couscous, potatoes and vegetables. It’s amazing how just a drizzle of the pan sauce over rice and asparagus can take the meal to new heights of flavor.

Sometimes a pan-seared pork chop (or any seared meat) needs a savory pan sauce to add flavor and finish. If the meat is overcooked, a good pan sauce can help restore it to a moist, flavorful cut of meat. 

In the Homestead Kitchen Magazine Cover for Bone Broth.

In the Homestead Kitchen

This recipe was featured in issue No. 3 of In the Homestead Kitchen Magazine. If you’d like access to more recipes like this, you can sign up to receive this monthly digital Magazine here.

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Grab your subscription today, and together we will fill our pantries, feed our families, and change our culture.

Ingredients for pan sauce.

Supplies Needed

  • Heavy Bottom Skillet – I recommend purchasing cast iron, but stainless steel works well. Homesteading Hack: The secret to cooking with cast iron is knowing how to properly season a cast iron pan.
  • Wooden Spoon – Scraping up the bits of meat and stirring the pan sauce occasionally after the sauce has reduced will keep the right consistency.
  • Wire Whisk – To create a sauce that is smooth and silky.
  • Serving Bowl – Stop the cooking process and hold the pan sauce until you ladle it over your meal. 

Ingredients Needed

  • Pan Drippings (or fat) – Cooking oil (such as coconut or avocado oil) can also be used or added if you don’t have enough fat from the protein of choice.
  • Small Onion, Minced – Whatever you have on hand and prefer will work. If you substitute chopped shallots, use 3-4 shallots. Homesteading Hack: Grow onions from seed and learn the best way to store onions for the best flavor.
  • Juice (wine or broth) – Use apple juice for white meat or red juice, such as cranberry or grape, for red meat (we often substitute white or red wine, or more broth)
  • Broth – Vegetable, beef or chicken stock, plus extra, as needed.
  • Butter – We like to use our homemade butter, but any butter will do. If you’re using salted butter, you may not need to add as much salt when seasoning. Homesteading Hack: Adding some cream to the sauce can add another layer of richness, especially for chicken and fish.
  • Salt and Pepper – Depending on the meat and stock, taste it after it’s reduced and add salt and pepper accordingly. 
Mushrooms being dropped into pan sauce.

Variations

Feel free to add any of the following:

  • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Mushrooms – Any popular type of mushroom, such as Button, Crimini, Oyster, Portobello, etc., works well.
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Herbs – Add herbs when cooking the onion for the best flavor.
  • 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard – I add this with the butter or cream (great with pork!)
  • Squeeze of Lemon Juice – This adds a nice flavor finish to the sauce before serving.
Pan sauce in a pan with sliced meat on a cutting board.

How to Make Pan Sauce – Step by Step

  1. After cooking your meat, pour off all but two tablespoons of leftover cooking oil or rendered fat from the pan. Homesteading Hack: If you are making your sauce in a new pan, melt your two tablespoons of fat in the pan.
  2. Sauté the onion until golden brown, about 2 1⁄2 to 3 minutes.
  3. With the pan on medium-high heat, pour in the juice (or wine or additional broth). 
  4. As the liquid reaches a simmer, scrape any crispy browned bits from the bottom of the pan with the spatula.
  5. Let simmer for about 3 minutes or until reduced by half.
  6. Pour the remaining stock into it and stir until combined. 
  7. Let the sauce come to a rapid simmer.
  8. Reduce the liquid by half to about 1 cup. This should take 3 to 5 minutes.
  9. Once the liquid is reduced, lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the butter or cream. Whisk gently until the butter has completely melted.
  10. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened.
  11. Pour your sauce into a serving cup and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  12. This sauce will be best when used right away.

Did you make this recipe? If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below. Then snap a photo of your pan sauce (including any unique variations) and tag us on social media @homesteadingfamily so we can see!

Pan sauce in a white bowl.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

Pan sauce in a pan with a spoon.

Quick & Easy Pan Sauce Recipe

Pan sauce served with chicken, steak, pork or salmon is easy with this recipe. Learn how to add lemon, herbs, wine and juices to enhance flavor.
4 from 3 votes
Print Pin
Course: Condiment, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 178kcal
Author: Carolyn Thomas

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons fat pan drippings are best
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or wine, or stock
  • 1 1/2 cups broth
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • After cooking your meat, pour off all but two tablespoons of leftover cooking oil or rendered fat from the pan. Homesteading Hack: If you are making your sauce in a new pan, melt your two tablespoons of fat in the pan.
  • Sauté the onion until golden brown, about 2 1⁄2 to 3 minutes.
  • With the pan on medium-high heat, pour in the juice (or wine or additional broth). 
  • As the liquid reaches a simmer, scrape any crispy browned bits from the bottom of the pan with the spatula.
  • Let simmer for about 3 minutes or until reduced by half.
  • Pour the remaining stock into it and stir until combined.
  • Let the sauce come to a rapid simmer.
  • Reduce the liquid by half to about 1 cup. This should take 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Once the liquid is reduced, lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the butter or cream. Whisk gently until the butter has completely melted.
  • Continue to simmer until slightly thickened.
  • Pour your sauce into a serving cup and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • This sauce will be best when used right away.

Notes

  • You can substitute white or red wine for the juice, or use additional broth.
  • Feel free to add any of the following variations:
    • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Mushrooms – Any popular type of mushroom, such as Button, Crimini, Oyster, Portobello, etc., works well.
    • 2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Herbs – Add herbs when cooking the onion for the best flavor.
    • 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard – I add this with the butter or cream (great with pork!)
    • Squeeze of Lemon Juice – This adds a nice flavor finish to the sauce before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 62mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 718IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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