Classical French cuisine has been extraordinarily influential in the culinary world

Even if you dont fancy yourself a chef, youve probably incorporated elements of classical French cooking into your home kitchen on more than one occasion

French cuisine is renowned for its liberal use of flavorful sauces. After all, a well-crafted sauce adds moisture, richness, complexity, and color to almost any dish

There are countless varieties of French sauces, the majority of which are derived from one of five mother sauces

Created in the 1800s by chef Auguste Escoffier, mother sauces are basic concoctions that serve as a foundation for any number of secondary sauce variations. Each mother sauce is primarily categorized according to its unique base and thickener

Escoffier originally designated 4 primary mother sauces, along with mayonnaise as a cold mother sauce and Hollandaise as a daughter sauce. When his book was translated to English, mayonnaise was left out and Hollandaise was listed as a mother sauce

This article highlights the 5 French mother sauces, explaining how theyre made, their basic nutrient information, and some secondary sauces you can make from them

Béchamel, orsauce, is a simple milk-based sauce made from butter, flour, and whole milk

A 2-ounce (60-mL) serving provides approximately (
Calories:130grams Carbs:13 grams Protein:3 grams
To make béchamel, start by cooking butter and flour in a saucepan until it forms a thick, paste-like substance called a roux. The roux is responsible for thickening the sauce

There are many styles of roux, but the one used for béchamel is calledroux. Its only cooked for about 23 minuteslong enough to remove the starchy texture of the flour but not so long that the butter begins to brown

When the roux is ready, slowly whisk in warm milk and simmer it until it forms a smooth, creamy sauce

With the addition of a few extra seasonings like salt, pepper, and cloves, béchamel is completethough it may be used as a base for many other sauces

Popular sauces made from béchamel include:
Mornay:béchamel with onion, cloves, Gruyère cheese, and Parmesan Cream sauce:béchamel with heavy cream Soubise:béchamel with butter and caramelized onions Nantua:béchamel with shrimp, butter, and heavy cream Cheddar sauce:béchamel with whole milk and cheddar cheese
Béchamel and its derivative sauces can be used in countless dishes, including casseroles, creamy soups, and pastas


Béchamel is a rich,sauce made from flour, butter, and milk. Its often used to create classic cream-based sauces

A velouté is a simple sauce made from butter, flour, and stock

Stock is a savory, flavorful cooking liquid created by simmering bones, herbs, and aromatic vegetables for several hours

Velouté is similar to béchamel because its asauce thickened with roux, but it features stock for the base instead of milk. Chicken stock is the most common choice, but you can also use otherstocks, such as those made from veal or fish

A 2-ounce (60-mL) serving of chicken velouté contains approximately (
Calories:50grams Carbs:3 grams Protein:1 gram
To make velout start by making aroux with butter and flour. Next, slowly stir in warm stock and let it simmer until a creamy, light sauce forms

A basic velouté can be used by itself on meats and vegetables, or fashioned into numerous secondary sauces

Some popular sauces derived from velouté include:
Supreme:chicken velouté with heavy cream and mushrooms Hungarian:chicken or veal velouté with onion, paprika, andwine Normande:fish velouté with cream, butter, and egg yolks Venetian:chicken or fish velouté with tarragon, shallots, and parsley Allemande:chicken or veal velouté with lemon juice, egg yolk, and cream
Although its not traditional, you can also make vegetarian velouté using vegetable stock

Velouté is made with butter, flour, and either chicken, veal, or fish stock. This sauce and its derivatives are very versatile and usually served as a gravy over meats or vegetables

Espagnole, otherwise known as brown sauce, is a rich, dark sauce made from roux-thickened stock, puréed tomatoes, and mirepoixa mix of sautéed carrots, onions, and celery thats used as a base

Like velout espagnole uses roux and stock as the main ingredients. However, instead ofroux and stock, it calls for brown stock and brown roux

Brown stock is made from beef or veal bones that have been roasted and simmered, while brown roux is flour and butter thats cooked just long enough to brown the butter. These ingredients give espagnole an especially rich, complex flavor

A 2-ounce (60-mL) serving of espagnole offers (
Calories:50grams Carbs:4 grams Protein:1 gram
Espagnole also serves as a base for the following sauces:

Demi-glace:espagnole with additional beef or veal stock, herbs, and spices thats reduced to a thick, gravy-like consistency Robert:espagnole with lemon juice, dry mustard,wine, and onions Charcutière:espagnole with dry mustard,wine, onion, and pickles Mushroom:espagnole with mushrooms, shallots, sherry, and lemon juice Burgundy:espagnole with red wine and shallots
Because espagnole and its derivative sauces tend to be heavy and thick, theyre usually served alongside dark meats like beef or duck

Espagnole is a basic brown sauce made from brown roux, brown stock, puréed tomatoes, and mirepoix. Its rich, complex flavor pairs well with dark meats, such as beef and duck

Hollandaise is a tangy, creamy sauce made from butter, lemon juice, and raw egg yolks

Its probably best known for its role in the classic breakfast dish Eggs Benedict

Hollandaise stands out from the other French mother sauces because it relies on the emulsificationor mixingof egg yolks and butter in place of roux

It has a reputation for being somewhat challenging to prepare because of the tendency for butter and egg yolks to resist combiningmuch like water and oil

The key to making a proper hollandaise is slightly warm egg yolks, room temperature butter, and steady, constant whisking. Its essential to add the butter to the yolks slowly and incrementally so that the ingredients remain stable and dont separate

A 2-ounce serving of hollandaise provides (
Calories:163grams Carbs:0.5 grams Protein:1.5 grams
Hollandaise is delicious on its own but also kickstarts other sauces, such as:
Bearnaise:hollandaise withwine, tarragon, and peppercorn Choron:hollandaise with tarragon and tomato Maltaise:hollandaise with blood orange juice Mousseline:hollandaise with whipped heavy cream
Hollandaise and its derivative sauces are often served over eggs, vegetables, or lighter meats like poultry and fish

Its worth mentioning that hollandaise is derived from mayonnaise and hasnt always been classified as a mother sauce

Hollandaise combines egg yolks, butter, and lemon juice. Both it and its derivative sauces are popularly served over eggs, vegetables, fish, or chicken

Tomato sauce is arguably the most popular of the French mother sauces

Classical French tomato sauce is thickened with roux and seasoned with pork, herbs, and aromatic vegetables. However, most modern tomato sauces primarily consist of puréed tomatoes seasoned with herbs and reduced into a rich, flavorful sauce

A 2-ounce (60-mL) serving of tomato sauce contains (
Calories:15grams Carbs:3 grams Protein:1 gram
Its derivative sauces include:

Creole:tomato sauce withwine, garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, and red bell peppers Algerian:tomato sauce with green and red bell peppers Portugaise:tomato sauce with garlic, onions, sugar, salt, parsley, and peeled tomatoes Provençal:tomato sauce with olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar Marinara:tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and herbs
Tomato sauces are remarkably versatile and can be served with stewed or roasted meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, and pasta dishes

Any chef will tell you the best tomato sauces are made with fresh,ripened tomatoes. Try making a big batch of sauce with fresh tomatoes while theyre in season, then can or freeze the leftovers so you can enjoy homemade tomato sauce year round

Classical French tomato sauces are thickened with roux and flavored with pork, whereas modern ones usually consist of puréed tomatoes reduced into a thick, rich sauce

 How to compare the sauces
Now that you know the difference between the five sauces, heres an infographic for easy reference

The five French mother sauces are béchamel, velout espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato

Developed in the 19th century by French chef Auguste Escoffier, mother sauces serve as a starting point for a variety of delicious sauces used to complement countless dishes, including veggies, fish, meat, casseroles, and pastas

If youre looking to fine-tune your culinary skills, try cooking up one of these delectable sauces and see where it takes you.