Sauces are an essential element in cuisines all over the world. A sauce is liquid 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. Sauces need a liquid component, but some sauces (e.g. pico de gallo, salsa or chutney) may contain very little liquid.
Many sauces in this web site are recognizably variations on French cuisine recipes, but very few are made by the French book. A few are from other regional traditions and I probably have invented or rediscovered a few of my own too. Dessert sauces are particularly under-represented. I rarely make desserts.
- All soups can be converted into a sauce by reducing or thickening the liquid; and the other way around: All sauces can be converted into soup. If you're looking for more sauce ideas, don't forget to check Part 1 - Soups.
- Sauces may need to be thickened. See THIS PAGE for various techniques.
For an interesting list of sauces from many countries, see Wikipedia by type or country.
For this website, I made a different one.
My opinion about the classic French cuisine sauces?
- Needlessly complicated, invented by people who had way too much staff, time and resources, mostly unrealistic for regular use in average home-cooking for lack of both time and ingredients.
- I find the distinction between white and blond sauces highly artificial.
- The only difference between béchamel and velouté is milk vs. some other liquid. I often cross over that line by adding milk or cream to velouté sauces. I don't always use milk only for béchamel sauces. I often add the same ingredients to veloutés that I use for béchamel and the other way around. If we consider milk as just one of many possible stocks, or when you mix milk with other stocks, the 2 groups merge.
- Meat and fish are in the same category, which does not make sense at all to me considering that they thought milk should be excluded from that group.
- Hollandaise a mother sauce?
What working family makes Hollandaise instead of mayonnaise, other than that one time for bragging credits? I've made it twice, and imo Hollandaise is nothing more than liquid mayo. I don't care to drink my mayo. Vegetable oil is so much simpler to work with than melted butter. Anything Hollandaise-based can be made so much easier mayo-based, without the hassle of having to keep it warm all the time.
- And that brings me of course to the French fascination with butter, even though all too often they think butter is not good enough and needs to be clarified. Why not use a liquid oil to begin with? It's one thing to recognize historical roots of availability, it's completely a different one to remain stuck in the Middle Ages when so many alternatives are easily accessible nowadays.
Enough ranting. Revenons à nos moutons like the French say. Back to the issues at hand.
I don't underestimate the importance of sauces in French cuisine. Yes, many classic French sauces are delicious (as well as overly rich,) but a lot of them—especially some derived sauces—are imo not suitable for day-to-day home cooking. The need for a dedicated saucier in large hotels and restaurants clearly shows how much time goes into these French sauces.
la cocina Mexicana
The Mexican kitchen is very different from the French.
Sauces are even more important in the Mexican tradition and everyday campesino life.
According to Chef Frank Johnson, Mexican dishes are all about sauces and salsas:
“Any time you’re at a traditional Mexican meal, you’ll see many different condiments and several kinds of salsa on the table. Everything is fresh, and the idea is to use all those flavors together. There’s something great about a fresh, chunky pico de gallo and a zesty, smooth tomatillo sauce coming together in one bite of a taco.”
I have been able to confirm that when I was living in Mexico in 2016. The Mexican kitchen is just as rich and diverse as French cuisine, but with a completely different—and imo a much healthier—foundation. Above all, let's not forget that peppers, tomatoes and so many other vegetables are New World products that had been domesticated and cultivated by the American indigenous people for thousands of years before colonization brought them to Europe. That is why I classify tomato sauces under the Mexican tradition instead of the French.
The only reason that French sauces get 2 chapters, while Mexican sauces only get one is because I grew up with the French tradition and am more familiar with it. I came to know the Mexican kitchen only as an adult when I lived in Mexico in 2006.
Mexican people could compile a classification that is just as impressive as the French one. So could just about every other regional kitchen around the world. French cuisine just had better PR historically. Thanks to the internet, that no longer is the near-monopoly it used to be.
These are recipes that I have prepared in my home kitchen. Most of them were not made 'according to the book.' As always, my response to criticism in this context is: I couldn't care less. As long as it tastes good, I'm OK with it.
I have only 2 classes for the French sauces: watery sauces that are starch-thickened and oily emulsions. As stated earlier, tomatoes belonged to the Mexican kitchen long before the French saw their first tomato.
- sauces - intro ( = this page)
Chapter 5.1. emulsions
vegetable oils vs. animal fats
Every sauce based on one oil or fat (e.g. butter) can be made with any other oil/fat. I'm not saying it will taste as good, only that it will be different.
- vegetable oils vs. animal fats
- extra virgin olive oil
- oil, parsley & garlic sauce
- oil in water emulsion e.g. milk
- Creole sauce (butter + spices only)
- vinaigrette = oil + lime juice / vinegar + herbs, spices
- Italian dressing
- balsamic vinaigrette
Eggs are not the only emulsifiers in nature.
- cream sauces - intro
- Alfredo sauce
- fettucini Alfredo
- penne rigate Alfredo
- chives cream sauce
- garlic cream sauce
- mustard cream sauce
- pepper cream sauce
- peppercorn cream sauce
mushroom sauces, mushroom cream sauces
Chapter 5.2. starch-thickened Sauces
white roux / béchamel & derived sauces
recipes with béchamel or derived sauces
Chapter 5.3. Mexican Sauces
raw vegetable / fruit sauces
- guacamole = crushed avocado
- guacamole salsa = avocado, tomatillos
- red salsa guacamole = avocado, red salsa
- guacamole with grapes, cucumber
- mango guacamole
- mango guacamole salsa
- pico de gallo / salsa fresca = fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions, hot peppers
- mango salsa
- cucumber salsa
- salsa cruda
- ceviche = lime juice marinade
nuts & seeds
- peanut sauce (pollo encacahuatado)
- peanut & fruit mole aka nutti-frutti sauce
mole sauces = peppers, nuts, herbs
- tomato & tomatillo sauces
- tomato sauces - intro
- tomatillos & green tomatoes
- basic tomatillo sauce, spicy
- creamed tomatillo sauce
- tomatillo sauce with meatballs
- tomatillo pasta sauce
- tomatillo meatballs & cream sauce
- cooked salsas, red & green
- tomatillo-stuffed poblanos
- green enchilada sauce (tomatillo, green chile)
- no-meat tomato sauces
- simple tomato sauce
- basil tomato sauce
- caper tomato sauce
- garlic tomato sauce
- tomato sauce with sweet mini peppers
- raisin tomato sauce
- mushrooms in cheesy tomato sauce
- potatoes with tomato sauce
- French-style tomato sauces
- French tomato sauce
- French tomato sauce #2
- Spanish sauce = sautéed onions, green pepper, mushrooms and garlic
- Creole sauce = celery, bell peppers, onions
- Portuguese sauce = onions, tomatoes, garlic. parsley
- Provençal sauce = bell peppers, onions, herbs
- Provençal sauce with sweet mini peppers
- Provençal sauce with mini peppers and mushrooms
- Provençal sauce with mini peppers, straw mushrooms, beef tongue
- Italian tomato sauce
- Italian tomato sauce = garlic, oregano, basil
- commercialized tomato sauces
- BBQ sauces
- steak sauces
- tomato sauces with ground meat
- stovetop pasta sauces x4 (sauce bolognaise)
- crockpot pasta sauce & soup
- lasagna with ground meat, zucchinis, red & white sauces
- pasta sauce with mushrooms, chorizo, jambalaya rice
Chapter 5.4. sweet / sour Sauces
- balsamic vinegar
- vinegar sauce
- tallow / lard vinegar sauce
- lemon / lime juice
- mojo = garlic, vinegar
sweet & sour sauces
Chapter 5.5. other sauces
- garum = fermented salted fish