Steak Au Poivre with Peppercorn Sauce

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It tastes as indulgent as it sounds, but my Steak au Poivre is simple to make. Enjoy savory steak with creamy peppercorn sauce in a few steps.

Sliced steak being drizzled with sauce from spoon. Text reads "Steak au Poivre with Peppercorn Sauce".

Steak Au Poivre with Peppercorn Sauce

Steak Au Poivre is a classic French dish that combines the rich, savory flavors of beef with the bold, spicy notes of crushed peppercorns. The tender steak is coated with a generous layer of coarsely ground pepper, creating a delightful crust that seals in the juices. The pan sauce, made with cognac and heavy cream, adds a luxurious touch to this impressive yet easy-to-make dish. Perfect for a special occasion or a cozy date night, Steak Au Poivre is sure to become a favorite in your rotation.

What is steak au poivre?

Steak Au Poivre means “pepper steak” in French, and it’s a classic steak that originated in the 19th century. This dish consists of a beef steak, typically a filet mignon or tenderloin, that is seasoned with salt and coarsely crushed peppercorns. The steak is then seared in a hot pan with butter and oil until a delectable crust forms. Then, while the steaks rest, cognac is added to the pan, and the resulting sauce is finished with heavy cream. This creates a rich and incredibly flavorful sauce for your steak.

Pepper in pestle with mortar, next to raw tenderloins on baking sheet.

The Best Cut of Beef for au Poivre

Traditionally, Steak Au Poivre is made with beef tenderloin, which is what I use for this recipe. Tenderloins are lean and tender, which pairs well with the rich, fatty sauce. However, you can use other cuts of beef, such as New York strip or ribeye, depending on your preference. The key is to choose a high-quality, tender cut that will cook quickly and remain juicy.

Preparing and Seasoning Your Steak

To ensure the perfect Steak Au Poivre, it’s crucial to prepare and season your steak properly. Start by removing your steak from the refrigerator before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. This will help the steak cook more evenly. Season the steak generously with salt on all sides. Coarsely crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle or a pepper grinder, and press the crushed peppercorns onto the top side of the steak, creating a nice crust. Allow to rest this way for about an hour before searing.

Searing Your Steaks

I’m doing this recipe in a cast iron pan, which is a great way to develop a nice, crisp sear. Because tenderloins don’t have a lot of fat to render down, it’s all about getting your steak up to temp and getting that seared crust on the exterior. Give your steaks 4-5 minutes per side, and remember to cook them to the internal temperature for your desired doneness with a good meat thermometer.

  • Rare: 125 degrees F
  • Medium Rare: 135 degrees F
  • Medium: 145 degrees F 
  • Medium Well: 155 degrees F
  • Well Done: 160 degrees F
Seared tenderloins in cognac pepper sauce.

Rich Peppercorn Sauce

The peppercorn sauce is what sets this steak au poivre apart for ordinary steaks. The combination of the pan drippings, cognac, and heavy cream creates a velvety smooth sauce that perfectly complements the peppery crust on the steak. Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

You can try different types of peppercorns, such as green, pink, or mixed, for varying flavor profiles. If you prefer, you can substitute the cognac with other spirits like whiskey, brandy, or bourbon for a unique twist.

How to Make Steak Au Poivre

Yes, this dish tastes as indulgent as it sounds, but you can make it with just these few simple steps:

  1. Salt steaks. There are only 2 seasonings for steak au poivre, so getting them just right is super important. You want to sprinkle your steaks heavily on all sides with Kosher salt, and then let them rest at room temperature for an hour.
  2. Pepper steaks. When your steaks are ready, go ahead and crush your black peppercorns. I love crushing mine with a mortar and pestle. You can use a pepper grinder if you want, but it’s a lot of work for the amount you need.
  3. Sear steaks. Preheat your oil in a 12-inch cast iron pan over medium heat on your grill or oven, and then melt your butter. Once melted, place your steaks in the pan. You want to allow you steaks to sear for 4-5 minutes per side in the butter, developing a nice crust.
  4. Rest steaks. Remove your steaks to a plate, and then tent them with aluminum foil. This will allow all that juicy, beefy flavor to settle into place and making slicing easier.
  5. Make peppercorn sauce. Time to make the secret sauce. Add your cognac to the hot pan and scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Then, turn off the heat and get ready for the fun part. VERY CAREFULLY ignite the cognac with a lighter, then swirl the pan until the alcohol burns off. Pour in the heavy cream and stir until fully incorporated.
  6. Slice, sauce and serve. Slice your steaks, which will be easy since you rested them. Next, drizzle over the top of your steaks with a serving of the creamy peppercorn sauce, and try not to drool.
Sliced steak au poivre in cognac sauce.

More Irresistible Steak Recipes

If you’re a fan of steak dishes like this steak au poivre, then I’ve got plenty of recipes to satisfy your cravings. From grilled-in-the-backyard favorites to restaurant quality classics, I’ve got a steak recipe for every occasion for you in the Hey Grill Hey app. Here are a few of my favorites for you to try next time you’re in need of a killer steak recipe:

Simple Steak Au Poivre Recipe

Follow the recipe to give this incredible Steak Au Poivre a try, and I promise you’ll be looking for excuses to make it all the time. Be sure to tell me all about your experience in the comments and leave a 5-star review if you had fun making this recipe.

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Steak Au Poivre

By: Susie Bulloch
0 from 0 votes
It tastes as indulgent as it sounds but my Steak au Poivre is simple to make. Enjoy savory steak with creamy peppercorn sauce in a few steps.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time20 minutes
Resting Time10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings4 people

Ingredients
 

  • 4 8 ounce beef tenderloins or filet mignon
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh peppercorns
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cognac Sauce

  • 1/4 cup cognac whiskey
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions
 

  • Salt steaks. Sprinkle your steaks heavily on all sides with Kosher salt, then let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
    4 8 ounce beef tenderloins, 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • Pepper steaks. Crush your black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, and then press the tops of your steaks into the crushed pepper.
    2 Tablespoons fresh peppercorns
  • Sear steaks. Preheat your oil in a 12-inch cast iron pan over medium heat on your grill or oven, and then melt your butter. Once melted, place your steaks in the pan and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes with the lid on. Flip once halfway through and repeat.
    2 Tablespoons butter, 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Rest steaks. Remove your steaks to a plate, tent them with aluminum foil, and then allow them to rest while you prepare your sauce.
  • Make peppercorn sauce. Add your cognac to the pan and scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Turn off the heat, and then carefully ignite the cognac with a lighter. Swirl the pan until the alcohol burns off. Pour in the heavy cream and stir until fully incorporated.
    1/4 cup cognac, 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Slice, sauce and serve. Slice your steaks if desired, then drizzle over top with a serving of peppercorn sauce. Serve and enjoy.

Nutrition

Calories: 650kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 13976mg | Potassium: 339mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 984IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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