Master These Mothers: Learn How to Make the 5 Classic Sauces

Brooke Newberry
(Photo: )

The “Mother Sauces” are the five most basic sauces that any legitimate sauce is derived from. These fundamentals either begin with a roux, a stock, or a combination of the two. Developed in the early 1800s by French master culinarians, Antonin Carême and Auguste Escoffier, the sauces cover all forms of classical emulsion and stock sauces. There are infinite possibilities recorded as variations under Mother’s umbrella.

To know how to make a good sauce is to know how to cook. Learn the basics and you’ll be able to prepare a range of recipes like a pro.


The smooth, classic white sauce is made from cooking butter and flour together, then whisking in some milk. Its thickness depends on how much milk is added: the more milk, the thinner the sauce. Béchamel forms the basis of a slew of other sauces.

It is usually served with white meats, eggs, fish, pastas (cream sauces) and vegetables.

Make it like this:



Hollandaise is an emulsification that uses butter and egg yolks as binding. It’s that lusty, pale lemon-colored sauce. A derivative of hollandaise is béarnaise sauce, which is most often served with steak.

Find it paired with eggs (eggs benedict), vegetables (think asparagus), poultry dishes, fish and beef.

Watch Chef Drew emulsify:



Veloute is a stock-based white sauce that can be made from chicken (most common), fish or veal stock thickened with white roux. It’s made similar to a béchamel, except in this case, stock replaces the milk.

Find it served with hearty chicken dishes, vegetables, pastas and veal dishes.

Make it like this:



Raw tomatoes, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes and tomato puree are all common in making a traditional tomato sauce. A roux is traditionally used in making a tomato sauce, but many chefs skip it because the tomatoes themselves can be thick enough to hold up the sauce.

Use it in the norms: pasta dishes, fish, veal, chicken dishes, vegetables and polenta.



Espagnole is the common brown sauce made with a roux and brown stock, and is the basis of Bordelaise sauce (the one made with red wine, shallot, bay leaf and thyme).

It is made to go with roasted meats like beef, duck, lamb and veal.

Make it, slap it on shortribs:

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