Steak au Poivre

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By now you probably know that I am a steak lover. We eat steak at least once a week and I’m always looking for ways to give it a little twist. This recipe for Steak au Poivre hits all of my criteria for a delicious dinner. It’s easy, rich and keto friendly using butter and heavy cream.

I’ve tried this sauce a few different ways to and ended up liking the sauce the most that had the Dijon mustard stirred in at the end, similar to Steak Diane. (Another delicious, fancy steak recipe, I’ll be posting soon).

Steak au Poivre (Pepper Sauce) from Spinach Tiger

What is Steak Au Poivre

Steak au poivre is steak with a black peppercorn sauce, made with green and black peppercorns, butter, heavy cream, and cognac. Some recipes add a bit of shallots and some add some mustard. I tried all the ways to see what I liked best.

Steak au Poivre with Shallots from Spinach Tiger

What Steak to use for Steak au Poivre?

You can use various steaks, but the most common are filet mignon and strip steak. These are good choices as both don’t have a lot of fat. You could even use a cheaper cut such teres major (often referred to as faux filet). I wouldn’t recommend ribeye steak because that steak already has enough fat, but that’s just my opinion.

Ingredients for Steak au Poivre

  • Steak
  • Peppercorns
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Cognac or Brandy
  • Shallots (optional)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Fresh Thyme or Parsley

How to Crush the Peppercorns

My pepper mill has a dial from fine to course and the course setting is perfect. However, you can crush with a rolling pin or use a mortar and pestle. This OXO salt mill and pepper mill set is the best I’ve ever tried. I have mine for 5 years now and the pepper mill crushed these peppercorns perfectly.

How to Add Peppercorns to the Steak

First of all, salt meat and allow to sit out to get to near room temperature 30 to 60 minutes in advance. Next, place crushed peppercorns on a plate and place steaks on the peppercorns. You may need to press them in. Cover both sides.

Part 1: Cook the Steak

  • Place butter and olive oil in frying pan. Don’t use cast iron for this. Use a stainless steel frying pan because you will be making a sauce with heavy cream and alcohol.
  • On a medium high heat, place steaks in pan and turn after four minutes. Cook another four minutes. You should already have a great sear.
  • Use a meat thermometer to determine if the meat is where you want it. I usually will place in the oven in a different pan at 375 degrees F. to get to about 135 degrees F.
  • If the steaks are at the temp you desire, remove from pan, tent with foil. Set aside.

Steak au Poivre Part 2: Make the Peppercorn Sauce

In same pan you cooked the steaks, without cleaning the pan, add the cognac.

You don’t want your sauce to have a heavy alcohol taste, but a more discreet rich flavor. You must burn off the alcohol by either cooking over low or to do it quickly, use the flambé technique.Caution: Have a lid ready. (Adding any alcohol to the fat can cause a kitchen geyser). Give it a few seconds and take off lid.

At this point you can flambé the cognac to burn off the alcohol, (take off burner to do so) or simmer to let the alcohol burn off.

  • Add heavy cream, stir on low until sauce thickens and coats back of a spoon.
  • Stir in Dijon Mustard.
  • Season with salt.
  • Serve immediately.

How to Safely Flambé Alcohol

Use a lighter to flame the cognac, but do this away from your stove or turn your gas stove off. The flame will burn off the alcohol and leave the flavor.

What is the Best Side Dish for Steak au Poivre?

Good sides include french fries, mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower and a dish of sautéed greens. Keep in mind how rich the sauce from heavy cream and butter. I might even just serve this with baked potatoes, which are just as easy to make as this dish.

Cauliflower Mash

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Steak au Poivre from Spinach Tiger

Steak Recipes from Spinach Tiger

Sliced Steak au Poivre from Spinach Tiger
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Steak au Poivre

Steak with French Style Pepper Sauce
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: steak, steak au poivre
Servings: 4 Servings


  • 4 tenderloin steaks or NY strip steaks see notes
  • Kosher or Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns crushed (more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup Cognac or Brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon shallots finely chopped (optional)



  • Trim any fat off of the steaks. Salt steaks and allow to sit out for 30 minutes.
  • Crush peppercorns either with mortar and pestle, a course grind on pepper mill. If you have neither, place between towel and crush with mallet.
  • Put crushed peppercorns on flat plate and place steak on peppercorns until both sides are coated.
    Raw Strip Streak au Poivre
  • Heat butter and oil in frying pan on medium high.
  • Add steaks to pan and cook on each side 3 to 4 minutes to get a good sear. Remove steaks from heat and from pan. Place in oven in a different pan to finish off to get desired temperature. Medium rare will between 130-135 F.
    Steak au Poivre

Peppercorn Sauce

  • If you want to add shallots, soften these first before adding in water. You may need to add another tablespoon of butter to do this. Shallots are an option.
  • Using same pan you cooked steaks in, add a tiny amount of water to stir up the bits from the bottom of pan. You can use broth if you happen to have some available, but no reason to open a whole box for this.
  • Take off the stove and have a lid ready, as you add cognac to the pan. Adding in any alcohol to a hot pan with fat can produce a geyser effect so immediately place a lid on and wait a few seconds. You can flambé the cognac to burn off the alcohol or just heat for several minutes on stove on low, which will also burn off the alcohol. Make sure that is done before adding cream.
  • Add some fresh thyme, on the stem, which you will remove later.
  • Add in heavy cream and continue to stir until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Stir in Dijon mustard. Season with Salt.
  • Remove thyme. Pour over steaks. Serve immediately.
    Sliced Steak au Poivre from Spinach Tiger


You can make 4 tenderloin steaks or preferably medallions. You can also use New York Strip steaks. Doneness will be determined by thickness of the steaks, so please use meat thermometer. 

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