Peppercorn Sauce… with a healthy makeover

Another peppercorn sauce recipe?

Yes, I know I only recently posted the recipe for my original peppercorn sauce, but I’ve given it a makeover to create a healthy peppercorn sauce. This new version keeps all of the flavour whilst having significantly lower calories, fat and saturated fat (if you want to see just how much I’ve knocked it down by you’ll have to read on – I’m pretty proud of what I managed). There’s also hidden veg for some extra goodness.

This sauce is the perfect accompaniment to steak, chicken or gammon, and is quick and easy to make.

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Healthy peppercorn sauce - My original peppercorn sauce has had a healthy makeover. This new version keeps all the flavour but has significantly lower calories, fat and saturated fat. There's also hidden veg for some extra goodness.

So why give it a makeover?

One of the things I enjoy doing in the kitchen is to attempt to make healthier versions of some of my favourite foods. This is usually trying to reduce calories, fat, salt or sugar, but I’m also happy with anything that makes a recipe more nutritious. Occasionally (OK, quite often) these can be a bit of a disaster, but every now and again I find something that works really well. This peppercorn sauce is one of those times.

When I create recipes for Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen the first step is always to try and create something that I think tastes delicious. It’s only once that’s done that I work out all of the nutritional information, so I can add it to the recipes you read here.

Occasionally that creates the unwanted feeling of finding out that something I thought wasn’t too bad is actually much higher in calories, fat, salt or sugar than I’d expected. I definitely got that feeling with my original peppercorn sauce recipe. It’s not terrible, not terrible at all, at 132 calories and 7g of fat per serving, but if I’m having a bit of a diet day (usually due to too much cake, or hope of future cake) then I don’t think I can afford to get 11% of my daily reference intake of fat just from a sauce!

Ever since I posted my original peppercorn sauce recipe, I’ve been pondering ways to make it healthier. The great thing about calculating the nutritional information myself is that I can see a breakdown of where all of the calories, fat, etc. are coming from and therefore I know where to try and target my efforts.

In the case of my original peppercorn sauce, the vast majority of calories and fat were coming from the flour and butter used in the roux base of the sauce.

Recently I’ve found several recipes that substitute cauliflower for the flour and butter in some roux based sauces to make a healthier version. I thought that idea would be perfect here. So I gave it a try.

I’ve stayed as true to my original recipe as possible in terms of flavours, substituting cauliflower for the flour and butter and adjusting some of the other quantities to ensure that the flavours and consistency are right. The great thing is for non-cauliflower fans, because the sauce has quite a powerful flavour, the cauliflower taste is disguised by it all.

So onto the numbers, what’s the benefit of switching to the cauliflower version?

Here’s the table of nutritional information per serving* for the cauliflower version…

Hidden Veg Peppercorn Sauce Nutritional InformationAnd in case you’ve forgotten what these values were for the original sauce, here’s a comparison of calories, fat and saturated fat…

Cauliflower v original peppercorn sauce nutritional comparison

Yes, you read that right. A 62% reduction in calories from 132 to 50. A 91% reduction in fat, and a whopping 97% reduction in saturated fat.

I think that’s a pretty impressive improvement. And what you can’t see here, is that whist it doesn’t fully make up one of your five-a-day fruit and veg, it does contribute 0.6 which isn’t bad at all.

Ideally I’d also like to reduce the level of salt. However, when I’ve tried, the sauce lacks the necessary flavour. If anyone’s got any suggestions for alternatives to salt I can try then let me know in the comments.

So what did I change to make the difference?

The diagram below summarises the substitutions I made in the recipe.
Cauliflower peppercorn sauce v original ingredients comparison

Now on to the recipe…

Peppercorn Sauce… with a healthy makeover

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Peppercorn Sauce… with a healthy makeover


  • 200g cauliflower (about half a cauliflower)
  • 15ml brandy
  • 100ml skimmed milk
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 15g (4 tsp) black peppercorns - vary this according to how powerful you want your sauce to be
  • Salt


  1. Chop the cauliflower (200g) into individual florets.
  2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft - you need to cook the cauliflower more that you would if you were serving it to eat whole. It needs to be very soft, otherwise the finished sauce may be lumpy.
  3. Once the cauliflower is soft, drain and then purée with a blender or food processor.
  4. Crack the black peppercorns (15g) in a pestle and mortar ( if you don't have one, put them in a plastic bag, wrap in a tea towel, and hit a few times with a rolling pin) - you want to make sure that the peppercorns are cracked, but do not over-grind otherwise the sauce will lose its intense peppery flavour.
  5. Into a heated saucepan, add the brandy (15ml) and cook for a few seconds.
  6. Add the skimmed milk (100ml), chicken stock cube, black peppercorns and puréed cauliflower.
  7. Season with salt.
  8. Ensure that the sauce is heated through, then serve.

Peppercorn Sauce… with a healthy makeover has been linked to…

#ExtraVeg | #RecipeOfTheWeek |#TastyTuesdays | #CookBlogShare

Link up your recipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays on   #CookBlogShare

* This is the estimated nutritional information per serving including the nutrition as a percentage of an adult’s daily reference intake. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.



  1. When I go out, I tend to have steak, and I invariably have it with peppercorn sauce. I am not watching what I eat, but I like your twist in this recipe (big cauliflower fan, here!).

  2. What a clever way to much it healthier, great idea.

  3. I love peppercorn sauce, love your healthy twist

  4. Fab healthy version of peppercorn sauce! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  5. This sounds like a brilliant idea! I love rich sauces but I do feel guilty whenever I load my plate. This is the perfect compromise. Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare

    • I love anything that makes me feel just a little bit less guilty. The problem is that when I’m good I tend to treat myself to something later so I never see the benefits!!

  6. I’ve just started experimenting with cauliflower in sauces. A very belated thank you for entering #ExtraVeg

    • Cauliflowers so versatile isn’t it. I’ve not experimented with it for a while but I really should give it another go. What have you been using it for?

  7. Any substitutions for brandy?

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’ve only ever tried it with brandy or with no alcohol at all (which was nice but the brandy definitely adds another dimension to the flavour). I’ve seen recipes that use port, sherry or apple juice instead of brandy so you could try one of those but I can’t vouch for whether they would be succesful.

  8. May sound stupid, I can’t stand the smell or taste of any spirit like brandy, whisky ect. Does it definitely need to have any spirit put in it? Thanks Diane

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