The Five mother sauces

A sauce is simply a liquid combined with a thickening agent and other flavorings.Although three of the mother sauces are thickened using a roux, in each instance the roux is cooked for a different length of time to create a paler or darker color. Each of the five mother sauces is produced with a different liquid and a different thickening agent.


What’s a mother sauce?

Mother sauces consist of a group of sauces upon which other sauces are based, also known as “small sauces”. They were developed by French chef Auguste Escoffier and serve as a starting point for a variety of delicious sauces used to compliment countless dishes.

Why sauces?

They provide:

  • Flavor, whether it be complementary or contrasting.
  • Visual interest
  • Moisture
  • Texture

How do I choose what sauce to use?

  • Style of service
  • Customer
  • Method of cooking
  • Complementary flavors

What is clarified butter?

Clarified butter is milk fat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat. It is made by melting butter and skimming the milk solids off the top of the melted butter. Clarified butter is typically what you dip cooked seafood into like crab or shrimp.

What are some examples of small sauces?

Sauce creole:

Sweat 6 oz of small diced onion, celery and green pepper

Add 1 – 2 tsp minced garlic

Add 1 quart tomato sauce

Add 1 sprig of thyme and 1 bay leaf, simmer

Finish with 2 oz sherry and Tabasco to taste 

Supreme sauce:

Add a 4 oz roux to one quart of chicken veloute.

Add 4 oz of heavy cream and simmer down.

Finish with a few drops of lemon juice, salt and white pepper to taste.

Mornay sauce:

Add bechamel to pot and bring to low simmer

Add 4 oz grated Gruyère and 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese

Finish with monte au beurre*, a few drops of lemon juice, salt and white pepper.

*Monte au Beurre: Adding or whisking cold pads of butter into a sauce or purée at the end of the cooking process and is usually done off heat . This process adds shine, flavor and richness.