6 sauces every chef should have on their menu | Kraft Heinz Food Service

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6 sauces every chef should have on their menu

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One of the most critical elements of any dish is flavouring. Here are the sauces you need to have on your menu to deliver that flavour.

Nearly every menu includes sauce, in one way or another. But it’s how you construct and use it that can differ from venue to venue. Here are six traditional sauces every chef should know and have on their menu.

Sauce, it’s an ingredient that adds flavour, texture, and moisture to food. It can take a meal from ‘it was alright’ to ‘I can’t wait to come back and order this again’.

A good sauce, whether it be traditional or something new and inspiring, can make your food more appealing and overall, more exciting.

However, when it comes to sauces, there are over 50 that are commonly used in cooking across the world. From these 50, there are the big five ‘mother’ sauces, which are often some of the first things you learn at culinary school.

These five ‘mother sauces’ are:

  • Velouté: a white roux (flour mixed with fat) combined with a white stock from fish, chicken or veal and used as a starting point for gravies and mushroom sauces.
  • Espagnole (also known as brown sauce): made from carrots, celery, onions, beef stock and deglazed brown bits from beef bones – usually served with steak as a side.
  • Sauce Tomate: made with tomato, salt, carrots, celery, garlic and veal or chicken stock. It is often used across Indian, Italian, and French cuisines.
  • Bechamel
  • Hollandaise

These ‘mother’ sauces are often viewed as a starting point to secondary sauces, which you then add to.

When it comes to sauces, it is important to never overlook their importance, not only to your menu but also to your customers. A well-crafted sauce can bring a dish together and leave your customers wanting more.

Traditional sauces you need on your menu

It’s simple: sauce is a big contributor to flavour maximisation in food. Think about some of the most traditional dishes on offer at nearly every venue – for example, spaghetti, burgers, noodles, salads – they all have a layer of sauce that helps them burst with flavour.

So, what traditional sauces should you have on your menu and how can they be used in a versatile way to help save you time and money? We investigate.


What is it and how is it made?

While it doesn’t have much flavour on its own, bechamel is a rich, creamy white sauce that is easy to dress up or dress down on your menu.

This classic white sauce, also known as a ‘mother’ sauce, is one of the easiest sauces to make, as it only needs three main ingredients: milk, flour, and butter. If you were wanting an extra punch of flavour, you can also add onion or onion powder, bay leaf and parsley stems when heating over the stovetop.

Where can it be used?

Thanks to its minimal flavour components, bechamel can be used across your menu in multiple ways, making it one of the most versatile sauces. While it is best used with pasta dishes like lasagne and macaroni and cheese, it can also be used as a topper sauce for red meats and fish, vegetable bakes, chicken pot pies and a classic ham and cheese croque madame.

How is it stored?

You can store béchamel sauce for up to five days in the fridge.


What is it and how is it made?

Mayonnaise is one of the most popular sauces in the world. In fact, it can be found in nearly 40% of restaurants and venues across the globe.

Originally invented as a cold emulsified sauce in 1765, mayonnaise is a thick and creamy sauce that consists of oil, egg yolk or whole egg, and vinegar or lemon juice. Classified as both a sauce and spread, mayonnaise is one of the most versatile products found in the kitchen thanks to its ability to be combined with different spices, ingredients, and sauces.

Some of the most popular variations of mayonnaise include:

Unfortunately, due to the use of raw eggs, homemade mayonnaise is classified as a potential hazardous food and holds food safety concerns, due to the increased chance of salmonella. To minimise the risk, many venues opt for pre-made mayonnaise options, like Heinz [SERIOUSLY] GOOD Original Mayonnaise. Made with whole eggs, canola oil and vinegar, a touch of mustard, salt and sugar for a balanced flavour and a small amount of other ingredients to ensure the product maintains the fresh flavour and classic creamy texture mayonnaise is known for.

Where can it be used?

The best thing about mayonnaise is that it can be used across the kitchen in several ways, making it one of the most cost-effective ingredients. A recent survey conducted by Kraft Heinz Food Service found that sandwiches and burgers, were the most common host foods for mayonnaise. It also found that mayonnaise was commonly used with salad and fries.

Mayonnaise can also be used for lentil and vegetable burgers, Spicy peri peri fish burgers, Smokey BBQ wet rested burgers, tuna and rice patties and tuna poke bowls.

How is it stored?

Commercially made mayonnaise can be stored in the fridge and should be used within two months. However, if you make homemade mayonnaise, it will last only up to a week in the fridge.


What is it and how is it made?

With tangy flavour components like mustard and lemon, hollandaise sauce is a condiment commonly used across breakfast menus. Hollandaise sauce is one of the simplest sauces to make and is the only classic ‘mother’ sauce that’s thickened using emulsification instead of a roux.

Hollandaise sauce can be made with butter, egg yolks and vinegar. Traditionally, it’s set in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. The simmering is an important step of the process, as this cooks the egg yolk, and the butter offers the thick, velvety texture. If you want to take your sauce to a new level, you can add dijon mustard, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Where can it be used?

Hollandaise sauce is often used as a topping and became famous due to its incorporation in eggs benedict. Along with this classic breakfast item, hollandaise sauce can also be used as a topping for salmon and chicken breast dishes, as well as steamed vegetables, like broccoli and asparagus, or as a dipping sauce for seared steak.

How is it stored?

Hollandaise sauce contains perishable ingredients like butter and egg yolks, so if you’re making it from scratch. It should always be made fresh and only stored in the fridge for up to two days., ideally in a covered, heatproof bowl.


What is it and how is it made?

Originating from the USA, BBQ sauce is one of the most classic flavours known around the world. Its spicy and bittersweet flavouring has allowed it to become a preferred topping for all types of protein. It’s traditionally made from vegetable oil, onion, garlic, tomato puree, ground mustard, tomato sauce, molasses, worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, salt, and pepper.

To help decrease overarching costs and increase efficiencies in the kitchen, you can also opt for pre-made BBQ sauce options, like the Bulls Eye Original BBQ Sauce or Heinz BBQ Sauce. These options provide you with a natural smokey flavour with a hint of sweetness, making it perfect for dipping, marinating, and basting.

Where can it be used?

When it comes to BBQ sauce, it can be used either at the beginning, middle or end of the cooking process to give off different flavouring and finishing. While it’s most commonly used as a condiment on the side or as a spread in recipes like Korean BBQ pork burger with Asian slaw, BBQ sauce can also be used as a marinade for pork ribs, chicken and jackfruit to give it a smoky flavour.

How is it stored?

If you’re making your BBQ sauce from scratch, you can store it in the fridge for up to one month. However, commercially bought BBQ sauce does not need to be refrigerated due to its high acidity and processing and can be stored in your pantry.


What is it and how is it made?

Originating in Argentina, chimichurri is a bright green coloured sauce that explodes with flavour, giving off a spicy aftertaste. Like pesto, this sauce is part of the salsa verde family and is a quick, refreshing way to add flavour to meats and vegetables.

Traditionally, chimichurri is made from parsley, chilli, oregano, lemon, garlic, red wine vinegar and shallots. For some heat, minced chilli or crushed red peppers can be mixed through the sauce. Chopped, roasted almonds can also give a nice crunch and extra texture when used in salads.

Where can it be used?

Chimichurri can be used as a sauce, drizzled over steaks. But in recent times, the sauce has been expanded to more menu items as a dipping sauce for chips, dressing for barbequed fruit and vegetables, such as grilled pineapple and potatoes, as well as salads. Chimichurri can also be used in a similar way to a vinaigrette and tossed with fresh greens to take your sides to a new level.

How is it stored?

It can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.


What is it and how is it made?

Over the years, chilli sauce has grown in popularity as one of the most versatile condiments due to the different ways it can be used to bring heat and flavour to a menu. Traditionally, chilli sauce is made with aromatics like ginger and garlic, tangy citrus juice and meaty stock.

Looking for inspiration, check out Chef Adam Liaw’s chilli sauce recipe.

Where can it be used?

Chilli sauce is commonly used as a dipping sauce for fried foods like Korean fried chicken and spring rolls. Over the years, the sauce has also been converted into a marinade for classic chicken dishes such as Hainanese chicken, poached chicken, and chicken wings.

How is it stored?

Chilli sauce can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for up to one month.

Putting a twist on the classics

While traditional sauces can add a layer of flavour to dishes, they also offer an opportunity for experimentation in the kitchen. Traditional sauces like BBQ or mayonnaise can commonly be used as a base that has its flavour enhanced with pantry items, like spices, or fellow condiments, like chilli sauce or maple syrup.

Some of the trendiest sauces appearing on menus across the world now include:

  • Gochujang ketchup;
  • Chorizo ketchup;
  • Beer mustard;
  • Maple barbecue sauce;
  • Garlic aioli;
  • Chipotle mayonnaise; and
  • Vodka tomato mayonnaise.

Vinaigrettes are also rapidly becoming popular across global menus as a salad dressing or a topper on sandwiches, steaks, fresh fish, or fruit.

By putting a twist on a classic sauce, it allows you to bring unique flavours to your menu that can not only add new elements to your dishes, but also attract new customers. However, if this is something you plan on trialling in your kitchen, it is important to consider your customer base and their flavour preferences.

When researching what sauces your customers may enjoy:

  • Look over past ordering data to see if there is a trend between products and flavours, they are currently enjoying; and
  • Research popular menu items in your area to see what’s already working with the locals and how you could potentially make it better.

The most important thing about making a spin off condiment for your dishes is to always trial, test and learn. While customers tend to be open to embracing new flavours, if something isn’t working, you will need to adjust your ingredients, test again or revert to what feels comfortable and is perceived well.


Knowing the basic ‘mother’ sauces is important knowledge to have when working in a kitchen. But remember to never get caught in the trap of doing things the traditional way simply because they work.

Always test your skills and experiment with new ingredients and products. This will not only help you expand your skills within the kitchen, but it can also provide your venue with a new avenue of taste and flavours - one that may have never been on the cards before.

One thing that is for certain is to never overlook the importance of sauce, as it can be used to:

  • Add texture - smooth or chunky, thick, or thin;
  • Complement flavour;
  • Add juiciness; and
  • Add visual appeal as a garnish.

Want to get in touch to talk about our sauce range? Contact us today.