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Sauces, a glossary and tutorial

Updated on September 17, 2015

Garum mosaic and garum factory

A. Escoffier

Sauce history

Sauces have been used since ancient times to improve foods. At one time the primary use of sauces was to disguise the flavor of food that may have been just a little bit “off”. Thousands of years ago the Romans were using a sauce called Garum or Liquamen, made from fermented salted fish and fish guts and this was the ultimate condiment for the Romans. The top layer of the barrel of Garum would be skimmed off and sold for enormous prices to the wealthy while the lower layers including the fish guts would be sold to people with less money to indulge their appetites. They say the price for that top layer of Garum was higher than what we would pay for caviar today. There is some dissension as to what this sauce was and how it tasted but from writing at the time we have to conclude it was fairly mild and flavorful; they even added Garum to their wine before drinking.

With the advent of refrigeration sauce making has become a mark of an accomplished chef. Rather than a way to disguise the taste of food now we make sauces to enhance flavors, add moisture and texture.
Escoffier was working on modernizing French sauces a hundred years ago and we’ve progressed since. Many people think that removing the starch from sauces is a modern innovation, a la Nouvelle Cuisine but Escoffier was already developing this way back when. He was removing starch by long simmering, skimming and concentrating flavors. That may be too time consuming for the modern cook but it is hardly a new concept.

Hundreds of hot sauces

Many styles

Sauces may be as thin as an “au jus” or as thick as a pico de gallo with very little liquid but should always compliment the underlying dish. Lately many chefs are serving sauces with a squeeze bottle making little swirls and loops on the plate, that may be cute but it is far from true creativity, pay more attention to making the sauce than the presentation, the proof is in the eating not the little swirls.

Hot sauce, the heat of chili peppers is measured in Scoville units with the hottest possible being pure Capsaicin crystals coming in at 16 million Scoville units. By comparison law enforcement grade pepper spray is about 5 million Scoville units and Tabasco sauces run from 2500 to 8000 Scoville units.
There has been a surge in the creation of new hot peppers and new hot sauces in recent years, maybe we’re addicted to the endorphin rush caused by the pain. The current hottest pepper in the world in the Naga Viper pepper with 1.382 million Scoville units but this pepper is an unstable hybrid and seeds won’t come true. They’re still working on it! For a page by a “Hot sauce nut” Go here ChezWilliams he will point you to places where you can buy the hottest sauces on the planet. For a recipe to make your own see

There are five foundation sauces or basic sauces, called in French grandes sauces, below they are listed as base sauces. These “Mother” sauces are Espagnole, Béchamel, Velouté , Hollandaise and Mayonnaise.

Cannola w chocolate sauce
Cannola w chocolate sauce
Mornay sauce
Mornay sauce
Tomato sauce
Tomato sauce

Indian sauces

Making Béchamel Sauce


A good tip for sauce making is to save flavors! When you cook a roast there are always pan dripping in the pan, combined fat and juices from the meat. If you don’t use them to make gravy save them in the freezer! Pour the drippings, fat and juices into a tall plastic cup, then label and freeze. What you have in the cup is meat glaze with a layer of fat. Now you have a source of concentrated flavor which is far superior to dry bullion with fat. Use the juices to add flavor to any sauce or soup where it would be appropriate and use the fat to make a roux. For example, if you have chicken drippings you have the basis for a flavorful velouté plus all of the many derivative sauces, with beef drippings you have the start of Espagnole sauce and so on.

The difference between a sauce and gravy; gravy is made from pan drippings and takes the primary flavor from the meat that was cooked,  sauce will have other flavors to add to or complement a dish and doesn’t necessarily have to have any pan drippings.

What follows is a list with brief descriptions of some classic and some not so classic sauces. Not listed are things like salt and pepper. Seasoning is a matter of personal choice. If you use the information presented here to be creative with your cooking then I have succeeded. Perhaps this may help you the next time you are planning a menu or to give you an idea for something new while shopping.

Basic Beurre Blanc recipe from the World's Premier Culinary College

Making Hollandaise Sauce

How to make a Classic Veloute Sauce


Albert: Butter sauce with horseradish, mustard, vinegar, and sugar

Albufera: Supreme sauce with meatglaze and pimiento butter

Allemande: Veloute with white wine, mushrooms, strained, add lemon juice liason

Alfredo Originally just pasta tossed with fresh parmesan and butter, now more often a white sauce with Parmesan

Arch Duke: Supreme with burnt champagne,

Aurora: (fish) Veloute with tomato puree

Béarnaise: Hollandaise with tarragon reduction

Béchamel: (base for many) Roux, milk, sautéed onion, strain

Berchoux: (poultry) Allemande with cream and herb butter

Bercy: (fish) Shallots, white wine, fish fumet, reduced add fish Veloute, parsley. butter

Bercy: (beef) Use meat-glaze instead of fish and add diced marrow

Beurre blanc A reduction, usually from a shallow poached dish emulsified with butter [add cream to stabilize]

Bigarade: (Duck and Game) Game or Duck gravy orange juice and zest. thicken

Bonne Femme: (fish) Fish Veloute with mushrooms, shallots. hollandaise and whipped cream

Black bean 1: Latin American (fish lamb) Beans, Chicken stock. Bacon, onions' garlic, chili pepper, cumin. tomatoes,lemon juice, wine vinegar. Puree 1/3

Black bean 2: Asian (fish) Fermented black beans, garlic, sugar, water, soy sauce, onion, thicken with cornstarch,

Bordelaise: (beef) Shallots, Thyme, Bay leaf, Bordeaux, reduced, demi glace, strained, beef marrow,

Bonnefoy: (poultry) Same as Bordelaise using white wine, Veloute, tarragon

Bretonne: (Fish) Julienne of leeks, celery, onions, mushrooms, fish Veloute

Butter sauce: (vegetables) white roux water. butter

Caper: (fish and poultry) Veloute white wine, capers

Cardinal: (shellfish) Béchamel, Lobster coulis, cayenne and truffles (optional),

Charcuterie: (pork) Robert sauce. julienne of gherkins

Chateau: (beef) shallots, red wine reduce, demiglace. butter, parsley

Champagne: [mine ] (fish) shallots, mirepoix, champagne, heavy cream. reduce and strain. jardiniere, butter

Chasseur: (pltry pork) see hunter

Chateaubriand: (beef) Shallots, thyme, bay leaves, mushrooms. white wine, reduce and strain, demiglace, tarragon

Chambord: (fish) Veloute, mushrooms, sauterne, lobster. strain

Choron: (fish) Béarnaise with tomato puree


Brown Demi glace with aspic

White Veloute, aspic, cream

Green Veloute, spinach, aspic, cream

Tomato White with tomato puree

Colbert: (chicken) poultry meat glaze, (or Espagnole) cayenne, lemon parsley

Creole: Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, Cajun seasoning, file powder

Cucumber sauce: White roux, chicken stock, liason. cream, cucumber puree. and slices, lemon

Curry: onion, Garlic, celery, bay leaf, mustard, curry powder, apples. sauté, roux chicken stock. Strain

Cumberland: (ham venison) Red currant jelly, orange juice, port wine, mustard, ginger, corn starch, julienne of orange zest

Demi glace: (beef) Espagnole, brown stock and if possible meat glaze, reduced to 1/2

Diable: (beef shellfish) Shallots, cayenne, vinegar, wine, reduce, demiglace

Dianne: (steak) Shallots, chives, parsley, Worcestershire, A1, Demiglace or pan drippings

Diavola: (Italian shellfish) Marinara, crushed red pepper, olive oil

Diplomat: (fish) Fish Veloute, oyster juice, mushroom essence, reduce. liason, Loster butter, Truffle

Dijon: (pork poultry) Veloute, thyme, garlic, onion, tomato puree, Dijon, strain, butter

Dumont: (shellfish) Oysters. hollandaise, mushrooms

Duxelles: (steak) Minced onion mushrooms, sauté in butter, white wine, reduce, tomatoed demiglace, parsley

Egg sauce: (boiled beef &veg) Béchamel chopped egg parsley

Empress: (poultry) Veloute, white wine, mushrooms, lemon, liason, strain, truffle, thicken glace, whipped cream

Espagnole: ( base for many) Mirepoix, red wine, beef stock, roux, bouquet garni, strain

Estragon: (poultry game beef Veloute, tarragon puree and chopped. Or use Espagnole sauce and proceed as above

Financier: Madeira sauce with truffle essence and chopped truffles

Fine Herbs: (fish, beef) Bercy or Espagnole with chervil and parsley

Foyot: Béarnaise with meat glaze

Glace de Viande: (see meat glaze)

Green peppercorn: (beef) Espagnole with brandy onion, cream, strain, green peppercorns

Grand Veneur: (venison) Poivrade sauce, red currant jelly, cream mirepoix, sauté, salmon trimmings, bouquet garni, red wine, reduce, Espagnole, strain, butter

Hollandaise: (basic for many) An emulsion of egg yolks and butter with lemon and pepper
Holy Trinity: Base for many in Louisiana, Cajun and, Creole cooking. Onions, bell peppers and celery

Horseradish: (corned beef) Albert sauce, cream, horseradish

Hot sauce Hundreds of commercial varieties made by fermenting hot peppers with vinegar and salt, Tabasco ages theirs for 3 years in wooden barrels, recipes here:

Hungarian: (poultry) onions, sauté, roux, paprika, white wine, chicken stock

Hunter: (chicken) Mushroom, onion, white wine, Espagnole, tomato sauce

Henry IV: (beef) Béarnaise with meat glaze

Joineville: (shellfish) Normande, lobster butter or shrimp butter

Jus Lie: Thickened [with cornstarch] stock or broth used as a base for other sauces

Lyonnaise: (beef) Onions, sauté, white wine, Espagnole

Madeira: (beef, veal) shallots, sauté, Madeira, Espagnole, Demi glace, strain

Maltaise: (veg, poultry) Hollandaise, Blood orange juice or OJ concentrate orange zest, should slightly pink

Marchand du Vin: Same as Chateau with no parsley

Marsala: (veal, chicken) garlic, mushroom, sauté, Marsala, Espagnole or Veloute

Meat Glaze: Demi Glace: Meat stock or juices, which have been boiled, down to a syrupy consistency and used to boost the flavor sauces and soups

Mole: Many sauces, Mole Poblano, is called the national dish of Mexico many ingredients include chilies and chocolate, many others

the basis for many, onion, celery and carrots with fine herbs

Mornay: (veg chix seafood) Béchamel, meat essence, liason, Parmesan, Swiss cheese [Gruyere]

Mousseline: (veg, seafood, chix) Hollandaise and whipped cream mix at the last minute!

Marguery: (fish shellfish) Holladaise, Nantua, Chablis, shrimp, crab, mushrooms

Mushroom: (beef) Espagnole, burgundy, mushrooms

Nantua: (shellfish) Béchamel, sherry, lobster, liason

Newburg: (see Nantua)

Normande: (shellfish) Fish Veloute, liason, butter

Milanaise: (Italian, pasta) Red sauce with ham, tongue, mushroom, truffle

Onion sauce: (veg) Béchamel, sautéed onion, bay leaf

Paprikash: (veal, chix) Onions, mushrooms, paprika, Veloute, sour cream

Piquant: (pork) Robert sauce, dill pickles, red wine

Perigourdine : (beef) Madeira with truffles

Pesto: (Italian, pasta) Olive oil, basil, pine nuts, parmesan, PUREE

Pico de Gallo
Spanish condiment tomato, onion, and sometimes chilis, chopped

Poivrade: (game) Espagnole, game trimmings, marinade from game, vinegar, red wine, pepper, reduce, strain, peppercorns

Provencale: (fish, chix) Fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, sautéed

Portugaise: (meat, poultry) Scallion, garlic, diced tomato, Espagnole

Poulette: (poultry) Veloute, mushrooms, onion, white wine, lemon, liason

Raisin: (ham) Water, raisins, vinegar, brown sugar, thicken with corn starch

Ravigotte (hot) White wine and tarragon vinegar, reduced, veal veloute and shallots, fines herbs finish with butter

Ravigotte (cold) Vinaigrette mixed with chopped capers and fines herbs

Remoulade (French) Mayonnaise, fines herbs, capers, hard cooked eggs

Remoulade (New orleans) much sharper than the French Mayonnaise, celery, scallions, Parsley, horseradish, Creole mustard, Creole mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, yellow, mustard, yellow, Paprika, Garlic

Robert: (pork) Espagnole, white wine, dry mustard, lemon juice or vinegar

Smitane: (chix veal game) Onions, sauté, white wine, reduce, sour cream, strain

Sofrito: (Spanish base) garlic, onion, and tomatoes cooked slowly in olive oil,
Soffritto: (Italian base) Mirepoix, add garlic, maybe fennel

Soubise: (veggies) Minced onion, Mornay sauce, 1 part onion to 1 part Mornay

Spanish sauce: (omelet) (Different from Espagnole the mother sauce) Onion, garlic, celery, tomato, thyme, black olives

Spicy honey sauce: (waffles) 1/3 honey, 2/3 maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, caraway, simmer once

Supreme: (poultry) Veloute, heavy cream

Sweet and Sour: (Chinese) Equal parts vinegar and sugar, water, ketchup, corn starch

Wine merchant: see Marchand du vin

Veloute: (base for many) Roux, white stock [chicken, veal, or fish

Vera Cruz: (fish) Creole with black olives


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      6 years ago

      This is a great, informative article! You can find recipes for sauce and marinades for steak at


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