Sauce Diane is a retro classic easy recipe that has stood the test of time. Rich, creamy and packed with mushrooms, Diane sauce is the perfect accompaniment to a steak, but well worth trying with other meats and vegetable dishes too.
Sauce Diane is a classic British sauce traditionally served with steak. Recipes vary but in essence it is a pepper sauce, creamy, flavoured with cognac, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
Some consider the mushrooms optional but we like it packed with mushrooms for a full umami punch.
Although Sauce Diane is traditionally served with steak, it is also good with chicken, pasta – anything you love, in fact.
There is no need to miss out if you are veggie. You can use a good strong rich vegetable stock and add a dash of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, Henderson’s or soy sauce. Serve over seared field mushrooms or roasted cauliflower.
Where does sauce Diane come from?
Despite the name, Diane is not a traditional French sauce recipe. This stylish Jazz Age invention was a favourite in top London restaurants, and may have been invented at Mayfair’s fashionable Quaglino’s, probably by an Italian chef.
By the 1950s, Steak Diane was a menu staple in fine dining establishments such as the Café de Paris and in resorts across Europe. The recipe had crossed the Atlantic to become an American favourite too.
It may be considered a little retro today, but classics are classic for a reason. This delicious sauce elevates a simple steak to a restaurant style indulgence, and it is very easy to make.
Why make sauce Diane
- It’s delicious!
- Lifts the simplest dishes to restaurant quality
- Quick & easy to make
- Uses everyday ingredients
Sauce Diane ingredients
- Mushrooms – Chestnut mushrooms have a good colour and flavour, but ordinary white button mushrooms are fine too.
- Shallot / Onion – I prefer the flavour of shallot here, but if you don’t want to buy a whole bag use a small regular onion. Leftover shallots can be used in place of onion.
- Garlic – finely chopped
- Butter – salted or unsalted, just adjust the seasoning accordingly
- Olive oil – nothing with too strong a flavour, although I try and buy unrefined extra virgin.
- Cognac – or other smooth brandy. You could even use a little whisky if you like.
- Worcestershire sauce – choose a vegetarian version if you prefer
- Dijon mustard – or other fairly mild, smooth mustard
- Cream – double (heavy) cream
- Parsley – optional, to finish
How to make Diane sauce – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can make this perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Prepare the mushrooms, shallot and garlic
Mushrooms – Pick them over and wipe them rather than washing them, which does nothing for their texture as they absorb water like a sponge.
Shallot – Peel and finely chop.
Garlic – Peel and finely chop.
Step Two – Put the oil and butter in a large, heavy pan and set over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the mushrooms.
Arrange them in one layer and allow them to cook for a few minutes until lightly browned on one side.
When the mushrooms are ready, they will have reduced in bulk by a about a third.
Step Three – Add the shallot and garlic and then stir, flipping the mushrooms. After about a minute, add the garlic. Leave to cook a bit longer until the shallot and garlic are translucent and fragrant.
Step Four – Add the cognac. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil.
If you have an audience and want theatrics, you can flambée your sauce. If using a gas cooker, tip the pan so that the liquid catches in the flame, or use a match or gas lighter.
For less drama in the kitchen, just let it simmer for a minute or two, to boil off the alcohol.
Step Five – Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard and cream. Allow your Diane sauce to gently simmer, stirring all the time.
When the ingredients are well combined, add the beef stock and stir in, simmering all the time to reduce and thicken. Add the seasoning, taste ad adjust as needed.
Step Six – Once you have a sauce that nicely coats the back of a spoon, remove from the heat.
Stir in a handful of freshly chopped parsley to finish and serve.
Steak Diane is a classic dish and the reason this sauce recipe was invented.
For a lighter dish, serve over chicken pieces.
Heat leftover roast meats through in the sauce in a pan.
Serve sautéed mushrooms in jacket potatoes and top with sauce Diane, or use as a filling for savoury pancakes.
Use as a pasta sauce
- You can easily double the mushrooms for a more intense mushroom sauce.
- Use different herbs – a little tarragon would be delicious with a chicken dish
- Use chicken stock if serving with a chicken dish.
- Make this Diane sauce vegetarian with a vegetable stock and vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, or a dash of soy sauce.
- For a darker sauce Diane, add a tiny drop of gravy browning.You need a fraction of a drop. I dip the end of a knife into the bottle to get a tiny amount.
Fridge – Keep your sauce Diane in a airtight container or jar for up to 3 days.
Reheating – Bring to a simmer in a frying pan over a gentle heat. If you need to, add a splash of cream of milk to loosen the sauce.
Freezer – I do not recommend freezing, as the mushrooms will lose their texture and the sauce may split.
Hints and tips
- If you are cooking steaks while you prepare the sauce, you can add any juices from the meat to finish the sauce.
- Treat your mushrooms right. Please wipe them rather than washing them, and season after they have cooked for best results!
- If you flame your sauce, PLEASE don’t turn your back on it.
Easy – Wooster! Most of the letters are silent including the whole of Shire! OK, in the name of the old county the ‘shire’ is pronounced ‘sher’.
Most popular brands of sauce use the name of the county rather than the city (Worcester). However, most of us call it Worcester sauce, which I prefer. So, “Can you pass the Wooster Sauce, please?”
Your guess is as good as mine! Those who think the sauce was developed by Quaglino suggest a European demi mondaine, while others claim it was named after the socialite Lady Diana Cooper.
I don’t recommend it. I feel mushrooms can suffer in texture when you freeze them and you risk the sauce splitting.
You could improvise with a drop of mushroom ketchup, Hendersons’ sauce (a popular vegetarian substitution) or just a little light soy sauce.
More ways with steak
If you love steak, why not try these sauces too?
Easy creamy garlic mushrooms – A perfect pairing
Quick and easy Stilton sauce – Intense and delicious
More sauce recipes
- Parsley sauce – A British classic, usually served with fish
- Mint sauce – the classic pairing with roast lamb
- BBQ sauce – far better when homemade
- Burger sauce – quick and easy at home, delicious for dipping chips
- Oven baked cranberry sauce – juicy whole cranberries with orange baked in the oven
- Peri Peri sauce – homemade Nandos sauce!
Diane Sauce Recipe
- 100 g mushrooms
- 1 shallot (or small onion)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp Cognac (or other brandy, or smooth whisky)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 100 ml double cream
- 60 ml beef stock (made double strength)
- black pepper and salt
- chopped parsley (optional)
- Start by preparing the vegetables. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Peel and finely chop the shallot and garlic.100 g mushrooms, 1 shallot, 1 clove garlic
- Put the butter and olive oil in a pan and heat. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms in one layer and cook until golden brown and slightly reduced.1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil
- Add the shallot and stir in, turning the mushrooms. Leave for a minute and then add the garlic. Fry gently until the shallot and garlic are translucent and fragrant .1 shallot, 1 clove garlic
- Add the cognac to the pan and turn up the heat, bringing it to a boil. If you like, you can flambé the sauce, or just simmer for a few minutes to reduce and boil off the alcohol.2 tbsp Cognac
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard and cream. Stir to combine and let simmer for a few minutes.1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 100 ml double cream
- Add the stock. Stir in well, simmering all the time to reduce the sauce. Add the seasoning taste and adjust as needed.60 ml beef stock
- When the sauce coats the back of spoon nicely, it is ready. If you like, stir in some parsley and use more to garnish.chopped parsley
Leftovers/ Storage Fridge – Keep your sauce Diane in a airtight container or jar for up to 3 days. Reheating – Bring to a simmer in a frying pan over a gentle heat. If you need to, add a splash of cream of milk to loosen the sauce. Freezer – I do not recommend freezing, as the mushrooms will lose their texture and the sauce may split.
Gorgeous mushroom sauce, and great on vegetarian stuff