| |

9 Best Demi-glace Substitutes 

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Demi-glace is a dark brown French sauce that is jampacked with flavor and umami notes that are guaranteed to liven up virtually any type of sauce recipe. 

But not everyone has access to (or can make) a good demi-glace – and this is where its substitutes come in!

What are the best demi-glace substitutes? The best demi-glace substitutes will mimic the same lip-smacking, umami flavor and its characteristic stickiness. You can use beef stock, chicken stock, vegetable gravy, mushroom stock, bouillons, and more to get more or less the same flavor and characteristics! 

Read below to learn more about demi-glace, how it is made, why you may want to use substitutes and the best alternatives for this rich sauce!

What is Demi Glace?

Demi-glace is commonly compared to gold in terms of its value in French, or really, any type of cuisine. 

In essence, it’s a type of sauce that can either be used on its own or as a flavoring agent in any type of recipe. 

While traditionally, it is used to flavor numerous sauces, it is also used to add an umami flavor to otherwise plain stocks, and even everyday recipes. 

The reason why demi-glace is so revered is that it embodies the combination of meat, vegetables, and herbs and it is usually stored as frozen cubes which makes it a highly convenient and versatile solution for quickly adding flavor to food.

Let’s dig into how demi-glace is traditionally made! This will help you understand how it achieves its immense levels of flavor and how you can use its substitutes to get a similar result. 

The Makings of a Great Demi-glace 

Making demi-glace is, without a doubt, a labor of love because it can easily take up to 12-24 hours to prepare.

Yes, you read that right.

A regular batch of demi-glace, which will usually produce up to two full ice cube trays worth of cubes, will usually take about a day to make.

The reason why it takes so long is that you need to extract as much flavor from the ingredients as possible. 

What are its ingredients?

Well, demi-glace is either fully made using beef, or more commonly, a combination of beef and chicken, which gives the sauce a mild veal-ish flavor.

In fact, most people prefer to use a combination of two types of meats to prepare any demi-glace because an all-beef glace usually turns out to be too strong and overpowering.

The process begins with adding meat, onions, and optional herbs like garlic, ginger, or other flavoring ingredients – but in many cases, a classic demi-glace can be prepared with just beef shanks, chicken wings, onions, and a bit of tomato paste.

All the ingredients are first roasted in a high-heat oven for hours until they get a nice brown color. Then the tomato paste is added to the mix and then the meat is further cooked in the oven until everything has a nice uniform caramelized layer.

The reason why tomato paste is added later is to prevent it from burning. Remember, demi-glace takes a lot of time and can be tricky to make. If you mess up any step or burn any ingredient, it may end up ruining the final sauce!

After cooking in the oven, the ingredients are then added to a large pot with water – the leftover juices are also added to the mixture.

Then begins the long cooking process. 

All the ingredients boil in the pot for at least 12 hours!

After 12-15 hours, the solid ingredients (or what’s left of them) are discarded. Don’t worry about wastage as these discarded pieces will not have flavor or nutrition in them!

What you are left with is a steaming hot pot of extremely flavorful and umami-laden stock.

The stock is then rapidly cooled either using ice cubes or an ice bath to encourage the formation of a fat layer on top. Once adequately cool, the leftover stock is then stored in the fridge so that it can cool down even further.

The cooling step alone usually takes about 8 hours in the fridge! 

Once fully cooled, a thick layer of fat forms on top, which is then discarded as it contains very strong bone-y flavors that are usually unwanted. The gelatin mixture underneath is what you are after!

The gelatinous stock is then cooked again in a large pot and then reduced until it becomes adequately thick.

This thick sauce is then further strained and then filled into ice cube trays. Once frozen, the cubes can be stored in an airtight bag for up to 6 months. 

To use them, simply add them to a hot pan and deglaze the sauce using red wine and add seasonings! 

There you have it; you have finally created a flavoring mixture that will easily become your new secret weapon in breathing life to meaty sauces, stocks, and savory recipes! 

Characteristics of Demi-Glace

Here are a few important characteristics of demi-glace:


The exact flavor of demi-glace can vary from each batch but you can expect a rich umami and meaty flavor from the sauce.

The cubes themselves provide a very rich and nearly soy-sauce-like flavor – but when mixed with other ingredients, demi-glace can tie everything together.

You can also season the demi-glace with herbs which will further intensify its overall flavor profile and help it add a new dimension of flavor to your recipes!


Since the final product of any demi-glace mixture is gelatin (due to the rendering of collagen), you can expect these little flavor cubes to add a sticky and fatty texture to your dishes. 

Ever noticed how a reduced soupy broth can have a characteristically sticky texture when you put some of it between your fingers?

Well, you can expect the cubes to add more or less the same effect depending on how much demi-glace you add. 

At room temperature, the sauce will be jelly-like but once it is heated it can become soupy and thick. Although applying more heat does tend to loosen up the sauce and make it runnier, you should avoid heating demi-glace since it can also easily burn!


As we mentioned, demi-glace isn’t just limited to French cuisine. It has a wide variety of applications and can be used in the same way as bullion cubes. 

Whether it’s a meaty sauce, a flavorful stock, soup, or even a base for poutine; this flavoring agent will work its charm on anything that requires a deep and rich meaty flavor.

Many people commonly use this “secret ingredient” to make a range of flavorful stocks and sauces. Just prepare a meat stock and throw in a few demi-glace cubes and you probably won’t need to add any other flavoring ingredient!

Why Substitute Demi-Glace?

If you have read through our explanation of how demi-glace is made, then you would probably know the number one reason why people may want to skip it.

Homemade demi-glace just takes up too much time and even though it is worth it, it may not suit the schedule of the average Joe.

This is why it makes much more sense to go with substitutes. 

The good news is that if you keep in mind your requirements, you can easily mimic the characteristics of demi-glace in your recipes using some convenient substitutes. 

Another common reason why people might want to replace demi-glace is that, well, it’s obviously not vegan – but thankfully, there are a few clever vegan alternatives for this sauce too!

9 Best Demi-glace Substitutes 

Here are our best picks for the best alternatives for demi-glace:

1. High-Quality Commercial Demi-Glace

Okay, this might be considered cheating, but if you don’t have homemade demi-glace, then you can just as easily opt for a commercially prepared demi-glace sauce – but there’s a catch.

The reason why we mention “high-quality” here is that there are numerous varieties of this sauce. 

Some are prepared using natural and high-quality ingredients and may contain a mixture of beef, veal, carrots, onions, celery stock, tomato paste, red wine, animal fat, and salt.

While other cheaper varieties can be flavored using chemicals and artificial flavors – we’ll come to this type in a bit.

This high-quality mixture is also called a “high-end concentrate” and can easily be found in reputable superstores, and even online.

2. Cheap Commercial Demi-Glace

Keep in mind: the word “cheap” here is used loosely to define the class of ingredients used to flavor the sauce and isn’t necessarily a representation of its quality – unless you value healthy ingredients. 

The thing is, most high-end concentrates can be costly, and sometimes their cost may exceed their value, especially when you are on a budget.

This is where cheaper low-end concentrates come in. 

To get the same flavor and texture of demi-glace, manufacturers usually use artificial flavors, colorings, and thickening agents to replicate the characteristics of this French classic.

The result is a cheap and convenient sauce mixture that delivers on everything you would expect from demi-glace – but using cheaper and commercial food chemicals.

If you are on a budget and want to get the most out of that one special-occasion meal, then you can opt for this cheaper substitute!

3. Beef Broth

Using beef broth is an inexpensive way to add flavor and texture to your recipes without scheduling a full day of cooking.

The great thing about using beef broth is that it is 3/4th the recipe of any good demi-glace, so you are bound to get more or less the same flavor.

Just boil a few beef bones (preferably with marrow) and then season the stock with flavorful herbs to get that same delicious flavor and sticky texture.

Reduce the stock to a thick consistency and use it as a quick demi-glace replacement in any recipe that requires a meaty flavor.

4. Chicken Stock

Chicken stock alone is not nearly as flavorful as a traditional demi-glace but it will provide a similar umami flavor if it is prepared with the right herbs and vegetables.

Using homemade chicken stock? Then we recommend using bone-in meat with the skin on to maximize the extraction of fat and nutrients.

This will help give the stock a richer flavor and a stickier consistency too. You can also opt for commercial chicken stock to get an even more impactful flavor!

Be careful though, some commercial chicken stocks may contain MSG (monosodium glutamate) a commonly used flavoring agent that is purported to have some side effects.

Always check the ingredient list and labeling on any commercial stock to see if it aligns with your dietary preferences.

5. Bouillon cubes

Don’t have the time? Then bouillon cubes are the next best thing.

The best thing about bouillon cubes is that they are ready to use and also contain a lot of seasoning. So, in essence, you can just use them in the same way as demi-glace cubes to flavor any recipe.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of using bouillon cubes is their sheer variety. They can be prepared using vegetable or meat stock and they store extremely well since they are fully dehydrated.

6. Chicken/Beef Powder

This substitute is for people who run on a tight schedule and don’t have time to deal with any homemade or even commercial stock.

See, chicken or beef powder is extremely easy to use and very convenient to store too. All you need to do is add a few teaspoons (or more) to your recipes to more or less the same lip-smacking umami flavor. 

Although you won’t get the same textural benefits using this method, if your goal is to only add flavor, then this is a great and inexpensive way to get a meaty flavor. 

7. Beef Gravy

Beef gravy is another example of an excellent and inexpensive substitute for traditional demi-glace.

Most beef gravies are available in either sauce or powder forms and you can use them to get the same characteristics as demi-glace.

We recommend going with the sauce gravies because they will add the same color, aroma, and more importantly, flavor and texture to your recipes.

Beef gravy can also be prepared at home, but if your goal is to save time and opt for a cheaper substitute, then commercial beef gravy is the way to go!

8. Vegetable stock

If you think vegetable stock can’t replicate the umami notes of demi-glace, then think again!

Vegetable stock can either be prepared at home or you could opt for a commercial stock in the form of a sauce, powder, or bouillon cube.

Vegetable stock is a highly-regarded flavoring alternative for vegetarians who require a deep and rich umami flavor.

Most vegetable stocks use an assortment of flavorful herbs and vegetables to get the same and almost-meaty flavor – but they will likely lack in the texture department.

To fix this, add a bit of water to the vegetable stock and then gradually add corn flour until you get a thick mixture. It won’t have the same stickiness but it sure will have a great thick texture!

9. Mushroom Stock 

Mushroom stock won’t taste nearly as good as demi-glace but it will easily get you closer to some of its umami flavor. 

Mushroom stock is available in powder, bouillon, and gravy forms. You can also use mushroom stock in addition to other flavorful ingredients (herbs and seasonings) to make it even more flavorful.

While the end product may lack the characteristic stickiness and texture, it will surely be a great flavorful substitute for demi-glace!

Related Questions 

Here are a few related questions you might have regarding demi-glace substitutes: 

Can you use MSG as a substitute for demi-glace?

No, MSG on its own works well as a flavor enhancer, but it should always be paired with other ingredients or recipes (like stock) to get the most out of it. Please always use MSG in moderation, especially if you are sensitive to it. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *