What are the Most Useful French Sauces?

Did you know that there are an impressive 243 French sauces? That’s more than two for every week of the year! But what does that mean for you? Well, that means that there’s a lot you can learn about French cuisine if you start playing around with sauces. A sauce is a sauce is a sauce, right? Not quite. The key to making the most of your time in the kitchen is to understand what each one is good for. That way, you can start playing around with different flavors and techniques. It could be that you need to feed a family, or that you just want to get to know some French cuisine. Either way, you’re here for a reason, so let’s get to it!

What is a Sauce?

A sauce is a thick liquid that is added to dishes to enhance flavor and add complexity. Sauces are generally used at the end of cooking to plump and intensify the flavor of the ingredients in the dish. Sauces can be used to bind ingredients like meat or vegetables, or they can act as a condiment. In fact, a sauce is just a fancy word for a flavoring sauce. If you’ve ever wondered, “what is the difference between a sauce and a gravy?”, it’s all about the intended use, and the complex flavor that’s added to the dish.

Tomato Sauce

A staple of Italian and Greek cuisine, tomato sauce is the base for countless pasta dishes and other simple meals. The purpose of tomato sauce is to add flavour to whatever you’re cooking with it. The easiest way to add flavour to tomato sauce is by adding onions and garlic. You can also add spices like basil, oregano, or cinnamon to liven up the dish even more. One of the best things about tomato sauce is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can add it to everything from pastas to pastries. Try it with your next spaghetti or lasagna dish. It’s also a great way to add flavour to roasted vegetables or even grilled meats.

Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel sauce is a white sauce made with milk, flour, and butter. The addition of cheese helps make it creamy and appealing. Béchamel sauce is one of the most simple sauces out there. It’s commonly used in French cuisine, but it can be found in Italian or even Asian cuisines as well. Béchamel sauce is generally used for pastas and stews to add flavour and richness to dishes. A traditional béchamel sauce starts with a roux, which is a mixture of butter and flour. The roux is cooked until it’s a deep brown colour, and then milk is added. The milk and roux are then allowed to simmer until thick and velvety. Béchamel sauce is similar to Italian tomato sauce in its use. However, béchamel sauce is lighter in flavour and thinner in consistency.

Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise sauce is the pinnacle of French sauces. It’s traditionally served with eggs and bread. The sauce is made with emulsification and butter and is often referred to as the “breakfast of champions.” Hollandaise sauce is generally used for eggs Benedict, but you can also use it as a dip for vegetables or as an ingredient in other dishes. The key to a good hollandaise is to use good butter. You want to use the kind of butter that can be melted in a saucepan on low heat. You should also make sure the sauce is cold when you add the eggs, or it won’t properly whisk. A cold sauce helps to keep the eggs from curdling.


Mayonnaise is a sauce that is commonly associated with salads and sandwiches, but it can be used for many other foods as well. Mayonnaise is a creamy sauce made from egg mayonnaise, vinegar, and oil. The addition of oil helps to emulsify the mixture and makes it appealing. Mayonnaise can be used as a dip for a variety of foods. It can also be used as a salad dressing, a veggie dressing, or even as a replacement for butter. The versatility of mayonnaise makes it one of the most useful sauces.

Mousseline sauce

Mousseline sauce is one of the most versatile sauces out there, as it can be used for many different things. For example, you can use it as a base for sauces and stews, you can add it to omelettes as a filling, or you can even add it to desserts as a topping. Mousseline sauce is generally made with butter and cream, with spices added to enhance the flavour. Mousseline sauce is generally used for pastries and desserts, but it can also be used for many other things. Try adding it to soups or stews for a different flavour. Mousseline sauce is also the perfect sauce for storing in the fridge. It won’t melt like other sauces.


The French sauce repertoire is impressive, and the most important thing to remember about them is that they can be used in so many different ways and dishes. That being said, there are six sauces that are consistently used in French cuisine. They are béchamel, hollandaise, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, Mousseline, and golden gumbo. The best part is that these sauces can be used in so many different ways, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.