In cooking, a sauce is liquid, cream or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa.

 Sauces need a liquid component, but some sauces may contain more solid components than liquid. Sauces are an essential element in cuisines all over the world.

 Sauces may be used for savory dishes or for desserts. They can be prepared and served cold, like mayonnaise, prepared cold but served lukewarm like pesto, or can be cooked like bechamel and served warm or again cooked and served cold like apple sauce.   Sauces for salad are called salad dressing. Sauces made by deglazing a pan are called pan sauces.

 A cook who specializes in making sauces is called a saucier.

Function of the sauce

  • Moisture
  • Flavor
  • Richness
  • Appearance
  • Interest and appetite appeal



  • Liquid the body of the sauce
  • A thickening agent
  • Additional seasoning and flavoring agent


The 5 Leading sauces (or Mother sauces) defined by Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935)

Sauce                     Liquid                  Thickening agent

  1. Béchamel milk roux (white)
  2. Velouté (veal, chicken, fish) white stock roux (white or blond)
  3. Brown sauce/Espagnol brown stock roux (brown)
  4. Tomato sauce tomato + stock tomato paste
  5. Hollandaise butter egg yolks



  • Bones
  • Meat
  • Mirepoix
  • Seasoning and spices


  • Béchamel
  • Mornay
  • Black peppercorn
  • Mustard
  • Red wine
  • White wine for fish
  • Port/Madera
  • Mushroom
  • Beurre blanc
  • Red wine butter for fish
  • Hollandaise:
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Compound butter
    • Maître d’hôtel butter
    • Beurre meunière