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The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics: Sauce Ingredients

Updated on October 12, 2015


Stocks, thickening agents and flavourings are the three main ingredients used in most sauce production.


To produce a good quality sauce, you must pay careful attention to the preparation of the stock. A poor quality stock produces an inferior sauce.

Thickening agents

Starch is the main thickening agent used in sauce production. Different types of starches are used to produce different characteristics in the finished sauces.

The most commonly used thickening agent are:

  • Roux
  • Cornflour
  • Arrowroot
  • Beurre manie (for adjustments only)

Acid in a sauce may tend to reduce the thickening power of the starch.


The liquid that makes up the bulk of the sauce provides the basic flavour. However, basic sauces can be varied in many ways by adding a range of specific flavouring agents. Skilful blending of additional flavouring agents with the basic sauce is the key to successful sauce making. The result is an almost endless range of sauces which have individual and characteristic flavours.



A basic sauce is not usually served in its own right, but forms the base or foundation from which a wide variety of other sauces can be made.  There are three main categories of basic sauces.

  • Hot sauces.  These sauces are made from stock or milk and are thickened with roux.  They include demi-glace, béchamel and veloute.
  • Warm emulsion sauces.  These are warm sauces consisting of butter and reduction, which are emulsified with egg yolks. They include hollandaise and béarnaise.
  • Cold emulsion sauces.  These are cold sauces consisting of oil and vinegar, which are emulsified with egg yolks.  Mayonnaise is a cold emulsion sauce.

A thorough knowledge of how to make these basic sauces is important because they are the foundations from which other sauces are made.  The key to successful sauce production is to produce basic sauces of top quality.

A derivative sauce is a sauce derived (made) from a basic sauce by the addition of other ingredients, flavourings and seasonings.  These may include herbs, spices, essences and glazes.  The creative and skilful combination of these Ifadditional ingredients can produce an almost endless range of derivative sauces.


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