The 5 classic French mother sauces you need to know

If you’re going to learn classic French cookery, Michel Roux Jr is the gentleman to learn from. Here the culinary legend,  who headed up much-garlanded restaurant Le Gavroche for over 30 years and oversees the food at five-star hotel The Langham, shares the five classic sauces to master, along with ideas for recipes to use them in.

Michel says: “Sauces are key to good gastronomy. The five classic building-block recipes here – fish velouté, mayonnaise, chicken jus, hollandaise and beurre blanc – are easier to make than you might think. And once you’ve mastered the basics, you can experiment with adding herbs, spices, and flavourings. Think of these as your springboard to a taste adventure, and, with a bit of creative flair, you’ll soon be cooking like a true professional.”

Want to learn more tricks of the trade from Michel Roux Jr? The chef also oversees cookery school Sauce by The Langham in London, where he hosts exclusive masterclasses. Keep scrolling for more information.


The 5 classic French mother sauces you need to know

The French mother sauces you need to know

The joy of the classic French mother sauces is their adaptability. Once you know these basic recipes, you have any number of dishes at your fingertips, from bouillabaisse to eggs benedict, dover sole velouté to trout with beurre blanc. Michel Roux Jr is the master you want to learn from, and we are so pleased to bring you the five French sauces every cook should know.

The man himself


Beurre blanc

Beurre blanc is the coming together of two of life’s most glorious substances: wine and butter. Michel Roux Jr talks you through the technique in his recipe below.

“A classic to serve with seafood and fish. At Le Gavroche we often serve beurre blanc with simply cooked turbot and chives. Although it’s not a cream-based sauce, a little cream helps the butter emulsify.”

Beurre blanc

Find the recipe here, plus Michel’s sea-trout dish (see Tips).

Chicken jus

Chicken jus takes a bit of work but is one of the tastiest things a cook can make. Take Michel Roux Jr’s recipe step by step and revel in the incredible substance that is good jus.

“You’re looking for a rich, velvety sauce that coats the back of a spoon: when you dip the spoon into the sauce and run your finger down the back, there should be a distinct line.”

Chicken jus

Find the recipe here, plus a chicken supreme dish that makes the most of it (see Tips).

Fish velouté

Velouté is as classy a sauce as it sounds. Like many tasty sauces, it involves wine, and plenty of cream – how could it not be fantastic?

“This is a white velouté (velvety) sauce that’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It’s thickened by evaporating liquid (reduction is the cheffy term) and by the addition of cream. It’s the cornerstone of many fish sauces.”


Find the recipe here, plus a dover sole recipe to serve it with (see Tips).


Hollandaise sounds scary, but once you know a couple of important things about the way the sauce comes together, it’s not difficult.

Michel says: “This is one of the most versatile sauces you can have in your repertoire. Plain hollandaise is wonderful with poached eggs, as in eggs benedict, as well as with fresh asparagus and steamed fish.”


Classic variations include:

  • Béarnaise sauce, with tarragon and shallot added, which is perfect with steak.
  • Choron sauce, in which a little reduced tomato purée is added to béarnaise (good with fish).
  • Mousseline sauce, in which double cream is added at the end to enrich the hollandaise.

Find the recipe here (see Tips).


Mayonnaise is one of the world’s most popular condiments, and once you’ve made your own, you’ll never look back. This recipe can make for many variations; check out Michel Roux Jr’s tips in the recipe.

Michel says: “My grandmother used to insist the best mayonnaise is made with a fork… I’m sure she’s looking down aghast as I pick up my balloon whisk!”


Find the recipe here, including a seafood platter serving suggestion (see Tips).

Michel Roux oversees the food at The Langham, London, including the five-star hotel’s cookery school, Sauce by The Langham. The cookery school offers a wide range of classes, designed to boost culinary knowledge and confidence, whilst also encouraging guests to have a great time and discover the joy of cooking delicious food. Options range from skills-based ‘Building Blocks’ classes such as cocktails, bread, pasta and proper pudding, to kids baking, seasonal specials and guest chef classes. Sauce by The Langham also offers masterclasses with Michel Roux himself, where he shares his expertise and favourite seasonal dishes in an exclusive, intimate setting. Classes start at £90. Click here for more information.

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