What Is Mignonette?

Mignonette sauce is a condiment made from vinegar, minced shallots, and pepper and served with raw oysters and clams. It is usually spooned into the shell of each oyster, though some guests also use it as a dipping sauce. Mignonette sauce complements the briny, creamy texture of oysters by adding a touch of sharp flavor. Though mignonette is a French term, the sauce is an American creation and its origins trace back to New York City in the early 20th century.

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Mignonette Sauce Video

Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make mignonette sauce.

How to Make Mignonette

six oysters on a plate

Mignonette sauce is a simple recipe that only requires three ingredients. Follow the steps below to make the sauce for yourself:

Makes 12 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Rest time: 12 hours

Total time: 12 hours and 10 minutes


  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground


  1. Combine vinegar, shallots, and black pepper in a bowl and stir until combined.
  2. Cover the sauce and place it in the refrigerator overnight to allow the ingredients to set.

Different Types of Mignonette

oysters on a plate with mignonette

The standard recipe for mignonette sauce is extremely versatile and lends itself to experimentation in the kitchen. Many chefs add ingredients to their sauces to introduce bold new flavors to their seafood menu. In general, there are four different types of mignonette sauce, but it's important to note that each type can branch off into a variety of flavors. Below, we'll introduce the different types of mignonette sauce and what sets them apart:

Classic Mignonette Sauce

If your guests are seeking a traditional oyster-eating experience, classic mignonette sauce is an excellent option. It adds a touch of acidity that complements the texture of the oysters. This standard mignonette recipe does not feature additional ingredients or alterations and can be enjoyed any time of year.

Spicy Mignonette Sauce

If you’re looking to add a touch of heat to your seafood, a spicy mignonette sauce is an effective way to do so. You can make this sauce by adding chopped jalapenos, serrano peppers, or another type of hot pepper to the classic mignonette recipe. Some chefs even add a touch of hot sauce for additional flavor. It's essential to use the right blend of ingredients when preparing a spicy mignonette so that the heat doesn't overpower the oysters or the rest of the sauce.

Fruit Mignonette Sauce

If you're looking to differentiate your seafood menu during the spring and summer months, consider adding fruit mignonette sauces to your menu. Chefs implement fruits like green apples, watermelons, and even cucumbers into their mignonette recipes to add a sweet flavor and different texture to the sauce. You can even experiment with different citrus fruits to add extra acidity to the sauce.

Sweet Mignonette Sauce

Adding a touch of granulated sugar or brown sugar to your base recipe creates a sweet alternative to the traditional sauce. A sweet mignonette sauce can be enjoyed year-round and pairs well with pacific oysters. It's important to note that sweet mignonette sauce often overlaps with fruit mignonette sauce, as its sweet flavors pair well with certain fruits. Some chefs also add minced onions to their sweet mignonette for an added layer of texture.

Mignonette FAQ

We’ll answer frequently asked questions related to mignonette sauce below:

close up top view shot of two white cups with soy sauce and red vinegar mignonette marinade with shallots inside, on a white plate background

How to Serve Oysters

To serve raw oysters the right way, follow these tips:

  • Keep the oysters cold: Your oysters should be cold when you buy them and kept in a refrigerator until they are served.
  • Rinse your oysters: Though your oysters should be clean when you buy them, it’s essential to rinse them before serving to ensure the safety of your guests.
  • Serve with ice: Once your oysters have been shucked, surround them with ice on the serving tray. Not only does ice keep the oysters cold while guests dine, but it holds the oysters in place on the tray. It’s best to use cube ice, chunk ice, or another similar type of ice.
  • Provide sauces and garnishes: Many restaurants serve oysters with mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce, and lemon slices.

How To Pronounce Mignonette

Mignonette is pronounced “min-yuh-net.”

What Type of Vinegar Should You Use for Mignonette?

The type of vinegar you use in your mignonette sauce depends on the recipe and your preferences. Some recipes call for a specific type of vinegar, while others allow you to choose your own. For the best results, consider using one of the kinds of vinegar listed below:

  • Rice vinegar
  • Champagne vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • White wine vinegar

Why Is It Called Mignonette Sauce?

Mignonette sauce gets its name from the French term mignonette. It derives from the word mignon, which translates to dainty or darling. While the word mignonette was first used to describe a type of herb, it grew to take on a second meaning and refer to a satchel of herbs. Today, the term is commonly used when referring to cracked black pepper.

How Long Does Mignonette Sauce Keep?

You can refrigerate your mignonette sauce for up to a month after you make it. It's important to note that the longer you wait to serve your sauce, the less fresh it will taste. For the best results, serve your mignonette sauce within three days of when it is made.

Who Invented Mignonette Sauce?

Chef Theophile Kieffer first introduced mignonette sauce in the 1930s. Kieffer worked at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York City, where he first mixed the sauce and served it to hotel guests.

Mignonette sauce is a classic condiment that is essential for any seafood restaurant to offer. It is easy to prepare and comes in several different forms, giving your staff flexibility in the kitchen. By adhering to the information above, you can prepare the sauce correctly and add a touch of variety to your signature seafood dishes.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips|Menu Tips|Recipes|By Jason Kurtz
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