In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming 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 salsus, meaning salted. Possibly the oldest sauce recorded is garum, the fish sauce used by the Ancient Romans.

Sauces need a liquid component, but some sauces (for example, pico de gallo salsa or chutney) may contain more solid elements than liquid. Sauces are an essential element in cuisines all over the world.

Sauces may be used for savoury 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. Some sauces are industrial inventions like Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, or nowadays mostly bought ready-made like soy sauce or ketchup, other are still freshly prepared by the cook. Sauces for salads are called salad dressing. Sauces made by deglazing a pan are called pan sauces.

A cook who specializes in making sauces is a saucier.



  • Sauces used in traditional Japanese cuisine are usually based on shōyu (soy sauce), miso or dashi. Ponzu, citrus-flavored soy sauce, and yakitori no tare, sweetened rich soy sauce, are examples of shoyu-based sauces. Miso-based sauces include gomamiso, miso with ground sesame, and amamiso, sweetened miso. In modern Japanese cuisine, the word "sauce" often refers to Worcestershire sauce, introduced in the 19th century and modified to suit Japanese tastes. Tonkatsu, okonomiyaki, and yakisoba sauces are based on this sauce. Japanese horseradish or wasabi sauce is used on sushi and sashimi or mixed with soy sauce to make wasabi-joyu.
  • Some sauces in Chinese cuisine are soy sauce, doubanjiang, hoisin sauce, sweet bean sauce, chili sauces, oyster sauce, and sweet and sour sauce.
  • Korean cuisine uses sauces such as doenjang, gochujang, samjang, and soy sauce.
  • Southeast Asian cuisines, such as Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, often use fish sauce, made from fermented fish.
  • Indian cuisine uses sauces such as tomato-based curry sauces, tamarind sauce, coconut milk/paste based sauces, and chutneys.
  • Salsas ("sauces" in Spanish) such as pico de gallo (salsa tricolor), salsa cocida, salsa verde, and salsa roja are a crucial part of many Latino cuisines in the Americas and Europe. Typical ingredients include tomato, onion, and spices; thicker sauces often contain avocado. Mexican cuisine uses a sauce based on chocolate and chillies known as mole. Argentine cooking uses more Italian-derived sauces, such as tomato sauce, cream sauce, or pink sauce (the two mixed).
  • Peruvian cuisine uses sauces based mostly in different varieties of ají combined with several ingredients most notably salsa huancaína based on fresh cheese and salsa de ocopa based on peanuts or nuts. It is said that each household in the country has its own secret salsa recipe.

French cuisine

"Sauces are the splendor and the glory of French cooking" ~ Julia Child

Sauces in French cuisine date back to the Middle Ages. There were hundreds of sauces in the culinary repertoire. In 'classical' French cooking (19th and 20th century until nouvelle cuisine), sauces were a major defining characteristic of French cuisine.

In the 19th century, the chef Antonin Carême classified sauces into four families, each of which was based on a mother sauce (also called grandes sauces). Carême's four mother sauces were:

  • Béchamel, based on milk, thickened with a white roux.
  • Espagnole, based on brown stock (usually veal), thickened with a brown roux.
  • Velouté, based on a white stock, thickened with a blonde roux.
  • Allemande, based on velouté sauce, is thickened with egg yolks and heavy cream.

In the early 20th century, the chef Auguste Escoffier updated this classification to five mother sauces. They are:

  • Sauce Béchamel, milk based sauce, thickened with a white roux.
  • Sauce Velouté, white stock based sauce, thickened with a roux or a liaison.
  • Sauce Tomate, tomato based sauce
  • Sauce Espagnole, a fortified brown veal stock sauce.
  • Sauce Hollandaise, an emulsion of egg yolk, butter and lemon or vinegar.

A sauce which is derived from one of the mother sauces by augmenting with additional ingredients is sometimes called a small sauce or secondary sauce.[1] Most sauces commonly used in classical cuisine are small sauces. For example, Bechamel can be made into Mornay by the addition of Gruyère or any cheese one may like, and Espagnole becomes Bordelaise with the addition and reduction of red wine, shallots, and poached beef marrow.

In the European traditions, sauces are often served in a sauce boat.

British cuisine

Gravy is a traditional sauce used on roast dinner, which (traditionally) comprises roast potatoes, roast meat, boiled vegetables and optional Yorkshire puddings. The sole survivor of the medieval bread-thickened sauces, bread sauce is one of the oldest sauces in British cooking, flavored with spices brought in during the first returns of the spice missions across the globe and thickened with dried bread. Apple sauce, mint sauce and horseradish sauce are also used on meat (pork, lamb and beef respectively). Salad cream is sometimes used on salads. Ketchup and brown sauce are used on more fast-food type dishes. Strong English mustard (as well as French or American mustard) are also used on various foods, as is Worcestershire sauce, a successor to the fermented and highly flavored ancient Roman fish sauce garum. Custard is a popular dessert sauce. Some of these sauce traditions have been exported to ex-colonies such as the USA[citation needed].

Italian cuisine

Italian sauces reflect the rich variety of the Italian cuisine and can be divided in different categories:

Savoury sauces used for dressing meats, fish and vegetables

Here just a few:

Savoury sauces used to dress pasta dishes

Here there are thousand to choose from with almost every town having few traditional ones. The most famous internationally are probably:

Dessert sauces

  • Zabajone from Piedemont
  • Crema pasticciera made with eggs and milk and common in the whole peninsula
  • "Crema al mascarpone" used to make Tiramisù and to dress panettone at Christmas and common in the North of the country.

Sauce variations

Caramel sauce

There are also many sauces based on tomato (such as tomato ketchup and tomato sauce), other vegetables and various spices. Although the word 'ketchup' by itself usually refers to tomato ketchup, it may also be used to describe sauces from other vegetables or fruits.

Sauces can also be sweet, and used either hot or cold to accompany and garnish a dessert.

Another kind of sauce is made from stewed fruit, usually strained to remove skin and fibers and often sweetened. Such sauces, including apple sauce and cranberry sauce, are often eaten with specific other foods (apple sauce with pork, ham, or potato pancakes; cranberry sauce with poultry) or served as desserts.


Mushroom sauce

White sauces

Brown sauces

Béchamel family

Emulsified sauces

Butter sauces

Sweet sauces

Sauces made of chopped fresh ingredients

Hot sauces (Chile pepper-tinged sauces)

East Asian sauces

Southeast Asian sauces

See also



  • Peterson, James (1998). Sauces. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-29275-3. 
  • Sokolov, Raymond (1976). The Saucier's Apprentice. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-48920-9. 
  • McGee, Harold (1984). On Food and Cooking. Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-034621-2. 
  • McGee, Harold (1990). The Curious Cook. Macmillan. ISBN 0865474524. 


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  • sauce — [ sos ] n. f. • 1450; salse v. 1170; var. sause, sausse « eau salée » v. 1138; lat. pop. ° salsa « chose salée », class. salsus « salé » I ♦ 1 ♦ Préparation liquide ou onctueuse, formée d éléments gras et aromatiques plus ou moins liés et étendus …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • saucé — sauce [ sos ] n. f. • 1450; salse v. 1170; var. sause, sausse « eau salée » v. 1138; lat. pop. ° salsa « chose salée », class. salsus « salé » I ♦ 1 ♦ Préparation liquide ou onctueuse, formée d éléments gras et aromatiques plus ou moins liés et… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sauce — hollandaise über Spargel und Kartoffeln Sauce oder Soße (von französisch sauce, „Tunke“, „Brühe“; aus lateinisch salsa, „gesalzene Brühe“) ist eine flüssig bis sämig gebundene, würzende Beigabe zu warmen und kalten Speisen, Salaten und Desserts …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sauce — Sauce, n. [F., fr. OF. sausse, LL. salsa, properly, salt pickle, fr. L. salsus salted, salt, p. p. of salire to salt, fr. sal salt. See {Salt}, and cf. {Saucer}, {Souse} pickle, {Souse} to plunge.] 1. A composition of condiments and appetizing… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sauce — (s[add]s), v. t. [Cf. F. saucer.] [imp. & p. p. {Sauced} (s[add]st); p. pr. & vb. n. {Saucing} (s[add] s[i^]ng).] 1. To accompany with something intended to give a higher relish; to supply with appetizing condiments; to season; to flavor. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sauce — (Del lat. salix, ĭcis). m. Árbol de la familia de las Salicáceas, que crece hasta 20 m de altura, con tronco grueso, derecho, de muchas ramas y ramillas péndulas. Tiene copa irregular, estrecha y clara, hojas angostas, lanceoladas, de margen poco …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • sauce — [so:s US so:s] n [Date: 1300 1400; : Old French; Origin: Latin salsa, from sallere to add salt to , from sal salt ] 1.) [U and C] a thick cooked liquid that is served with food to give it a particular taste tomato/cheese/wine etc sauce ▪ vanilla… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sauce — [ sɔs ] noun count or uncount ** 1. ) a liquid food that you put on other foods to give them a particular flavor: soy/tomato/mint sauce ice cream and chocolate sauce 2. ) the sauce AMERICAN OLD FASHIONED alcoholic drinks: hit the sauce (=drink a… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • sauce — ► NOUN 1) thick liquid served with food to add moistness and flavour. 2) N. Amer. stewed fruit, especially apples. 3) informal, chiefly Brit. impertinence. ► VERB 1) (usu. be sauced) season with a sauce. 2) make more interesting and exc …   English terms dictionary

  • saucé — saucé, ée (sô sé, sée) part. passé de saucer. 1°   Trempé dans une sauce. Manger son pain saucé.    Fig. et familièrement. •   Mme de Coulanges m a écrit une grande lettre toute pleine d amitiés et de nouvelles.... elle dit que le voyage de… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • sauce — sustantivo masculino 1. Área: botánica Conjunto de árboles de la familia de las salicáceas que crece en terrenos húmedos. sauce blanco Sauce de tronco grisáceo y hojas muy pequeñas lanceoladas cubiertas de vello blanquecino. sauce llorón Sauce de …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

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