What are the 5 French Mother Sauces?

Chef Dan Catanio , On April 28, 2023


What are The five French mother sauces?

The five french mother sauces originated from Georges Escoffier who was a French was a French chef, restaurateur, and culinary writer. With his assistant he coined the term of the five french mother sauces, from which many other child sauces can be derived.

Did you know: Some of the french mother sauces made their way to France via Italy during the European renaissance? For example, the tomato sauce that was coined as a french mother sauce was traced back to Tuscany under the name “Salsa Colla” (“glue sauce”) because its main purpose was as a binding element in many pasta and vegetable dishes. It was exported to France by Caterina de’ Medici.

The Five French Mother Sauces Video

In this video career chef, saucier and culinary instructor Dan talks about the five french mother sauces:

1. Béchamel Sauce:

Overview: Béchamel sauce is a white sauce made with milk, flour, and butter, and is typically used as a base for casseroles, lasagna, mac and cheese, cream sauces, and soups.
Taste: Velvety, creamy, with a buttery essence.
Derivatives: Alfredo, cheddar cheese sauce, spinach béchamel sauce .
Ingredients: Butter, flour, whole milk, salt, nutmeg.
Uses: Lasagna, spinach lasagna, mac and cheese, clam chowder soup

2. Velouté Sauce

Overview: A velvety smooth sauce made with a light stock, usually chicken, fish, or veal, and thickened with a blond roux (butter and flour mixture).
Taste: Silken white stock.
Ingredients: White stock, butter, flour, salt, white pepper.
Uses: Soups.
Derivatives: White wine sauce, allemande sauce, normandy sauce.
Velouté sauce recipe with step-by-step instructions >

3. Espagnole Sauce:

Overview: Espagnole sauce is a rich brown sauce made from beef or veal stock and thickened with a dark roux (butter and flour mixture that is cooked until it is dark brown in color).
Taste: Rich stock lightened with the mild acidity of tomatoes and saturated with earthy spices.
Derivatives Demi-Glace, sauce bourguignon, red wine reduction
Ingredients: Butter, flour, brown stock, tomato puree, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf.
Uses: Steak, french fries, braised beef short ribs, mashed potatoes, slow-cooked lamb shanks, creamy polenta.

4. Hollandaise Sauce:

Overview: A smooth and tangy sauce made with butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice, typically used as a topping for vegetables or eggs Benedict.
Taste: Buttery cream laced with lemon
Ingredients: Egg yolks, unsalted butter, lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, salt, ground black peppercorn.
Uses: Eggs Benedict, pan seared salmon, flowering vegetables.
See the hollandaise sauce recipe instructions >

5. Tomato Sauce:

Overview: A classic tomato-based sauce made with fresh or canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs, often used for pasta dishes or as a base for other sauces.
Taste: Depending on the tomato it can be acidic or sweet imbued with garlic, onion, and herbs.
Ingredients: White veal stock, butter, salt, pork, all-purpose flour, tomatoes, thyme, carrots, onion, bay leaf, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar.
Uses: Pasta, ragù, margherita pizza, calzone, as a dip for breadsticks…

In summary, these five french mother sauces are used to derive all the other sauces in french culture and cuisine.

Chef Dan Catanio

A Culinary Institute of America graduate from the 1990s, Chef Dan began his career as a saucier at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan under the Hilton Corporation. Over the years, he has held key positions such as Corporate Executive Chef Director at 5-star restaurants, country clubs, and Indian Casino Resorts.