What are the 5 French Mother sauces?

Hello again from the Today’s World Kitchen team. We love that you are a fan of the site and hope you will continue to refer to it.

The contemporary trend in cooking is to innovate, to challenge yourself and your diners with something that aligns with your projected personality. Whilst this trend is steeped in consumer demands, the basics sometimes get lost amongst it all. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the essentials within basics.

The French are undeniably the culinary leaders, or more so culinary pioneers and it is important to remember why they have maintained this relationship and inspired so many. They know how to create strong foundations that last.

One of those foundations comes down to a good sauce. It would be very surprising if, as a chef in this food climate, you were unaware of the French mother sauces. And, of course, if you are aware, it’s always good to remind you what they are and where they come from.

Back in the early twentieth century, much loved pioneer and favourite of ours at TWK, Auguste Escoffier refined Marie-Antoine Careme’s list of four grande sauces and added one more to the mix. These five ‘mother sauces’ are the fundamental sauces still in use today.

They are as follows:

  • Béchamel: a milk based sauce, thickened with a white roux – a mixture of flour and fat
  • Espagnole: a basic, fortified, brown veal stock sauce, thickened with a brown roux
  • Veloute: a light stock based sauce thickened with a roux or a mixture of egg yolks and cream
  • Hollandaise: an egg yolk, butter and lemon/vinegar emulsion
  • Tomate: a tomato based sauce, sometimes thickened with roux

Without these sauces, many dishes would not have survived, nor would they be as desirable. Thank you Careme! And thank you Escoffier!

For more information regarding mother sauces, please refer to the following links: