Steak au Poivre Recipe with Cognac Cream Sauce
Why We Love This Peppercorn Steak Recipe
Meat fans, prepare to fall in love… These thick, tender, peppery, and juicy steaks are what carnivore dreams are made of!
A well-cooked Steak au Poivre is a perfect medium-rare, and melts in your mouth with a crunchy and spicy peppercorn crust. It’s an addictive combination of textures and flavors!
As the steaks cook, some of the peppercorns fall into the skillet and are used to flavor the silky cognac cream sauce made quickly after.
Since cognac is the primary flavor, alongside black pepper, it’s important to use a decent amount. However, you should burn off the largest amount before you add the cream, then add a little nip at the end to give the sauce a touch of boozy kick.
The cognac cream steak sauce is rich and velvety, and delightfully boozy. There is a hint of caramel-y sweetness from the alcohol. And because there are also peppercorns in the sauce, it has a bite of spice to compliment the crusted steak.
What is Steak au Poivre?
Steak au Poivre is the original French version of what we often call a pepper steak recipe in the United States. It consists of thick-cut steaks, usually tenderloin filets, pressed into very coarsely ground cracked black pepper, and then seared in a skillet. It is traditionally served with a cream cognac sauce, just like we will be making it in my recipe today!
Ingredients You Need
My Pepper Crusted Steak Recipe uses just a handful of ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Thick steaks – like tenderloin, ribeye or filet mignon
- Peppercorns – whole black peppercorns are best
- Olive oil – or other preferred high-heat oil, like canola or avocado oil
- Butter – unsalted
- Cognac – see below for other options, including how to make Steak au Poivre without alcohol
- Heavy cream – for the most decadent and delicious sauce
- Garlic – minced
- Dried thyme – for an earthy flavor that brings out the spice and savoriness of the pepper steak
- Beef base – adds great savoriness to balance all of the peppery and sweet flavors
- Salt – salt the steaks with a coarse salt like kosher salt before dipping them in the peppercorns
How to Make Steak au Poivre
Pull the steaks out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking. (This will ensure that the meat cooks evenly and to the proper internal temperature.) Sprinkle generously with salt on all sides.
I highly suggest hand-grinding whole black peppercorns for the most flavorful dish. To do so, set the pepper grinder on the largest setting. Grind the pepper into very coarse pieces. If you find your pepper grinder settings are small, you can pour the peppercorns into a mortar and pestle and crush them into large coarse pieces.
Pour the cracked peppercorns on a plate. Press the steaks into the crushed peppercorns on both sides. Shake the plate in between to make sure they coat evenly.
Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, place the olive oil and butter into the skillet. Once the butter melts, add the steaks to the skillet and sear for 4 to 5 minutes per side. (Four minutes for 1 ½-inch steaks, five minutes for 2-inch steaks.)
Move the pepper steaks to a holding plate and cover with foil.
Get the Complete Steak au Poivre Recipe Below. Enjoy!
How to Make Au Poivre Sauce
Using the same skillet, prepare your cognac pan sauce. Don’t clean out the skillet as we want those flavorful browned bits to add flavor to the sauce!
Carefully pour ½ cup cognac into the hot skillet. Slightly tip the pan so the cognac catches the flame. Allow the alcohol to burn off, shaking the pan as needed until the flame dies. If you have an electric stove top, simply let the cognac simmer to burn off some of the alcohol.
Pro Tip: If you like a bit more boozy flavor in your sauce, add a few extra drops of the cognac to the pan before adding the cream.
Pour the heavy cream into the skillet, followed by the minced garlic, dried thyme, and beef base. Whisk well and allow the cream to come to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce slightly thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. Taste, then add 1 to 4 more tablespoons of cognac, to taste. (I usually add 2 tablespoons.) Salt as needed.
Place each seared and rested steak on a plate to serve.
Then pour a generous tablespoon of the sauce over the top of each steak. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!
Serve the Steak au Poivre immediately with the warm peppercorn sauce.
It pairs beautifully with starchy sides that soak up the cream sauce! Pair with Best Mashed Potatoes or low carb Creamy Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes,” or fancy Duchess Potatoes. You can even serve it with fluffy white rice or thick egg noodles.
Lighten the meal up just a tad with a veggie side dish, too. Here are a few of our favorite vegetable recipes to complement this pepper steak recipe:
Tips & Tricks
- Let your steaks come to room temperature before searing! This will ensure even cooking and the steaks will cook more quickly to your desired temperature.
- If you don’t have a mortal and pestle, place your whole peppercorns in a small ziplock and smash them into smaller bits using a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin.
- Don’t cut into your steak until it has had at least 5-10 minutes to rest! This is true with a lot of meat, actually. If you don’t let it rest, all of the juices will escape instead of staying inside the meat because they didn’t have time to set.
- If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, use a heavy bottom skillet or your sturdiest nonstick skillet. The cast iron skillet is great because it retains heat and keeps the temperature consistent, but you can still make an amazing steak without it!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Steak Diane and Steak au Poivre Recipe?
Both dishes are made with steak and a cognac cream sauce. Steak Diane does not include peppercorns, but does have mushrooms. So instead of being savory and peppery Steak Diane’s sauce is more sweet and earthy. And both are French steak recipes that are to die for!
What does “au poivre” mean?
Au poivre literally means “peppered”. When you see any dish with the description of “au poivre” it means it will be pretty heavily peppered!
What is poivre sauce made up?
Poivre French sauce is typically made of pepper, Cognac, and cream. It is rich and creamy and goes perfectly with steak!
How long does beef tenderloin take to cook?
Thick-cut tenderloin steaks cook in only about 8-10 minutes total (4 to 5 minutes on each side). This is for a perfect medium rare to medium temperature.
Add another 1 minute per side for more of a true medium cook. You can use an internal-read thermometer to check if the steak is done to your liking! For medium-rare, cook until about 135 F. For a medium steak, cook until the thermometer reads 140-145 F.
What can I substitute for cognac to make the cream sauce?
White wine, brandy, and bourbon are all great substitutes if cognac isn’t available.
If you prefer to make this Steak au Poivre recipe without alcohol you can swap it with beef broth. The sauce won’t have exactly the same flavor, but this is a great way to make a delicious alcohol-free steak sauce!
How do you thicken peppercorn sauce?
Continue to cook and stir the sauce until it reaches the thickness you want. This can take up to 5 minutes or slightly more.
But be careful to not over-thicken the sauce… It should be easy to pour with a spoon. If needed you can add a splash more heavy cream as you cook the sauce to thin it back out.
How should I store leftover steak au poivre?
To store, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat the steak in the microwave along with the cognac sauce. Keep in mind that the microwave will cook the steak further!
Looking for More Decadent Dinner Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try
- Oven Roasted Salmon with Pink Peppercorn Sauce
- Retro French Chicken (Baked Lemon Garlic Chicken)
- Creamy Coq au Vin
- Easy Chicken Kiev
- Best Smoked Prime Rib Au Jus
Steak au Poivre Recipe with Cognac Cream Sauce
- Pull the steaks out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking. Sprinkle generously with salt on all sides.
- Set the pepper grinder on the largest setting. Grind the pepper into very coarse pieces. If you find your pepper grinder settings are small, you can pour the peppercorns into a mortar and pestle and crush them into large coarse pieces.
- Pour the cracked peppercorns on a plate. Press the steaks into the peppercorns on both sides. Shake the plate in between to make sure they coat evenly.
- Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, place the olive oil and butter into the skillet. Once the butter melts, add the steaks to the skillet and sear for 4 to 5 minutes per side. (Four minutes for 1 ½-inch steaks, five minutes for 2-inch steaks.)
- Move the steaks to a holding plate and cover with foil. Carefully pour ½ cup cognac into the hot skillet. Slightly tip the pan so the cognac catches the flame. Allow the alcohol to burn off, shaking the pan as needed until the flame dies.
- Pour the heavy cream into the skillet, followed by the minced garlic, dried thyme, and beef base. Whisk well and allow the cream to come to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce slightly thickens. Taste, then add 1 to 4 more tablespoons of cognac, to taste. (I usually add 2 tablespoons.) Salt as needed.
- Serve the steaks warm with a hearty spoonful of peppery cognac sauce over the top.