All About Sauces: History and Types

Woman tasting the sauces she made from the bookImagine eating your carbonara without sauce, just the pasta. Or, eating your meat without anything but the meat itself. You won’t be able to enjoy your meals because the absence of sauces means the absence of additional flavor and the experience.

Demi-glace and gravy are just among the best sauce options people use all over the world, thanks to the French. Sauces were developed as a cooking medium, meat tenderizer, and flavor enhancer. During the 18th century, these sauces were classified depending on their composition, ingredients, and preparation methods. The classification eventually became popular as mother sauces.

Types of mother sauces:


That white sauce in your chicken pot pie is a perfect example of Bechamel. It is made of roux, a combination of butter and flour, and cooked in milk. It has a thick consistency and is often bland in itself.


Instead of being cooked in milk, Veloute is a roux that is cooked in broth often made from chicken, turkey, or fish. Unlike Bechamel, Veloute takes in more flavor due to the clear stock it is mixed with. Veloute is often served as a sauce for fish or poultry, dishes that are often cooked lightly and tenderly.


Demi-glace sauce has an Espagnole foundation. It is usually made with thick broths (i.e. pork, beef) mixed with a brown roux, tomato puree, and brown mirepoix. This classic brown sauce is often seen as a great complement to meat dishes.

Sauce Tomat

The French used vegetable and broth to give flavor to their tomato sauce, unlike their modern and instant alternative (i.e. packed and canned). The roux also thickens Sauce Tomat.

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Hollandaise is the only mother sauce not thickened by the roux. Instead, an emulsion of egg yolk and melted butter gives the sauce a thick appearance and consistency. Its delicate nature makes it a great choice for dips.

Which among the mother sauces is your favorite? Next time you cook or prepare a mouthwatering dish, consider using any of these to make mealtime extra special.