Understanding Sauces

A sauce may be defined as a flavorful liquid, usually thickened, that is used to season, flavor, and enhance other foods.

A sauce adds the following qualities to foods:

The major sauces we consider here are made of three kinds of ingredients.

1. A liquid, the body of the sauce

2. A thickening agent

3. Additional seasoning and flavoring ingredients

To understand sauce-making, you must first learn how to prepare these components and then how to combine them into finished sauces.


A liquid ingredient provides the body or base of most sauces. Most classic sauces are built on one of five liquids or bases.The resulting sauces are called leading sauces or mother sauces.

White stock (chicken, veal, or fish)—for velouté sauces

Brown stock—for brown sauce or espagnole (ess pahn yohl)

Milk—for béchamel

Tomato plus stock—for tomato sauce

Clarified butter—for hollandaise

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