There's a restaurant near my house that serves a thin sauce with their steaks that tastes almost like a spicy, savory butterscotch sauce. The chef won't tell me anything about what's in his secret sauce.

Has anyone else had a savory dish that includes butterscotch flavors? And does anyone know what ingredients and/or techniques can be used to develop these flavors?

2 Answers 2


Most likely, brown sugar and butter is the base. Salted butterscotch is quite nice as a dessert; you could easily add spices as it cools, and potentially dilute it with oil, cream or wine; it doesn't tend to taste very sweet when salted, anyway, if the brown sugar is sufficiently caramelized.

Alternatively, you might just be encountering a brown butter, which is butter cooked until the milk solids slightly brown. Usually this is strained with a fine mesh to separate some of the solids, but not always. Salt and pepper can be added for flavor, not to mention other possibilities. I've often made brown butter by cooking it with fresh sage until the sage crisps, then removing the herbs as the butter finishes browning.


I recently found a different sauce that had a similar butterscotch note to it. It turned out this one was a very simple pan sauce built with brandy and beef stock as a deglazing liquid which was allowed to reduce by about 2/3 and then it was finished with a hint of cream.

The fond came from a steak cooked in butter so there was probably a little browned butter in there as well.

At this point I think the reduced brandy is a big contributor to the flavor I was identifying as butterscotch. This makes sense as brandy is generally somewhat sweet and usually has fairly strong caramel notes.

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