Sauce Bigarade or orange sauce

The sauce bigarade or bigarade orange sauce takes its name from a type of bitter orange: the bigarade. This orange has a rough, greenish skin. It is cultivated in the south of France, especialy in the Nice region. The flowers of this orange tree is used to make orange blossom water. The bigarade sauce is a traditional accompaniment of roast duck. Now, this sauce that I translated by bigarade orange sauce is not to be associated to the orange sauce, sauce a l'orange that is a very different sauce all toghether. There are three recipes for the bigarade orange sauce: A. Careme's recipe, a white bigarade sauce (based on a white veal stock) and a modern more economicaly sound, brown one (based on a brown veal jus).

Sauce bigarade: Antonin Careme's recipe:
  • 1 bigarade orange (or a bitter orange).
  • 1.5 dl of finished espagnole sauce.
  • 20g butter.
  • a pinch of cracked pepper.

Cut the zest of the orange making sure that there are no white bits on it. Blanch them briefly. Press the orange.

In a thick bottom pot, place the orange zests and the juice and reduce by half.

Add the espagnole sauce and and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Skim from time to time. Add the cracked pepper and strain through a fine chinois.

Just before serving, whisk in the butter.

Recipe for the white sauce bigarade:

  • 15 cl dry white wine.
  • 1 bigarade orange (or a bitter orange).
  • 1.5 dl white veal stock.
  • 1 teaspoon arrow root.
  • 2 tablespoons water.
  • 1/2 lemon juice.
  • 1 shot of cointreau.

Zest and press the orange (make sure that they are no white bits on the zests). Blanch the zests and set aside.

Take the tray in which you have roasted your duck, carefully get rid of the fat and collect the glaze at the bottom of the tray with the white wine and strain this liquid, set aside.

In a thick bottom saucepan, put the orange juice, lemon juice and the duck glaze. Bring to the boil and reduce by half.

Add, the veal stock and the cointreau, allow to reduce for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the arrow root with water. Whisk the thickener in the sauce and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine chinois.

Finally, add the orange zests and check the seasoning.

Recipe for the brown bigarade sauce:

  • 1 bigarade orange (or a bitter orange).
  • 1/2 lemon.
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar.
  • 2 dl veal jus.
  • 20g sugar.
  • 1 shot Grand Marnier or curacao.

Zest and press the orange and the lemon (make sure that they are no white bits on the zests). Blanch the zests.

In a thick bottom saucepan, place the sugar and the vinegar cook until it reaches a golden blond caramel. Add the jus and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Add the juices and the Grand Marnier and simmer for another 10 minutes. Skim if needed. Strain through a chinois.

Just before serving add the zests and check the seasoning.

“An empty stomach is not a good political advisor.”
Albert Einstein

Suitable for pregnant women, diabetics, recipes 2 and 3 are suitable for coeliacs and lactose intolerant people. Nut free.


  1. Anonymous said,

    Where did you find this Careme recipe? I've been hunting, and it isn't very easy to find. Thanks for finding it and posting it. So much culinary information is so scattered and controversial it is hard to get clarity when you need it the most. . . like when your doing culinary school homework. lol ty

    on 16 February, 2011  

  2. Yann_Chef said,

    Thanks for your comment. This recipe comes from an old book about French culinary history that I found by luck in a library in France when I was doing my degree a good few years ago. I am afraid that I don't remember its title. Unfortunately, I only kept the recipe and its author afterwards.
    Pleased to help.

    on 16 February, 2011