If you’ve ever made chicken pot pie you have probably made it with a velouté sauce.
As one of the five “mother” sauces in classic French cooking (Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Sauce Tomat), velouté is a light ‘cream’ sauce made with chicken, fish, veal, or vegetable stock thickened with a blond roux of butter and flour.
Once the roux, a combination of flour and fat, has cooked for a minute or two, you whisk in the stock and a little salt and cook for a few minutes. That’s it! All of the mother sauces including velouté have derivatives, or if you like, daughters, and once you learn to make them, you can make a variety of sauces by adding flavorings to suit your intended purpose.
How to Make a Velouté Sauce
With its roots in classic French cuisine, you might think the sauce would be hard and time consuming to make. It is not! You can whip up the sauce in under 10 minutes and it only requires three ingredients: butter, flour, and stock.
You start with a blond roux—a mixture of flour and butter that bubbles for about 2 minutes over medium-low heat. The object at this point is to cook the flour without browning it so that the sauce stays lightly colored but does not end up tasting overly pasty or floury. The roux is the thickening agent for the sauce.
Once the roux has cooked for a minute or two, add half the stock and whisk to eliminate any lumps. Then whisk in the remaining stock. Many recipes call for hot stock, but I have found that heating the stock is an unnecessary extra step. The sauce does take a little longer to come to a boil, so that is something to keep in mind.
Once the sauce comes to a boil, it must continue to cook for at least one minute to further cook out the flour. Stir constantly and keep your eye on the bottom of the pot to avoid scorching.
How to Troubleshoot Velouté
Velouté is very similar to a béchamel sauce, also known as a white sauce or cream sauce. It’s hard to mess up when you pay attention to a few little details.
- Be sure to keep the flour from browning when making the roux.
- If it appears to be cooking too quickly, slide the pan off the burner and keep whisking.
- Once you add the stock, continue to whisk constantly so no lumps form and the bottom of the pot doesn’t scorch.
- Taking the time to cook the flour is key to a delicious sauce!
If the sauce is too thick or too thin, you can easily correct the consistency. Add more stock if the sauce is too thick.
If it is too thin, stir in a few teaspoons of buerre manié. Buerre manié is the French term (literally ‘kneaded butter’) for a paste made from butter and flour mixed together in equal parts until smooth. It can be added to thicken pretty much any sauce. It melts into the sauce easily with whisking.
The sauce needs to boil gently for a minute or two to fully cook the flour once you add the buerre manié.
What Can You Make with Velouté Sauce?
The beauty of all the mother sauces is that they are at your service for a myriad of variations. Velouté is no exception.
One of our signature dishes in my restaurant days was Mussels Bercy—we folded plain whipped cream into a velouté made with fish and mussel stock, white wine, and a squeeze of lemon, spooned it over cooked mussels, and ran it under the broiler until golden. A very tasty dish indeed!
Here are a few other velouté variations:
- Cream added to chicken velouté becomes sauce supreme, and can be served with poached or roasted chicken. It covers a multitude of sins if your chicken is a tad on the dry side.
- Velouté made with veal stock and enriched with egg yolks and cream is sauce Allemande which can be served over pork or veal chops or spooned over poached eggs.
- You could also make a creamy vegetable soup by sautéing vegetables and pureeing them in the blender with some vegetable stock. Add velouté and more stock and/or cream to thin it out to your desired soup consistency.
How to Store Velouté
Store the velouté in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat, whisking constantly, on the stovetop.
You can also freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat from the frozen state, whisking constantly, over low heat.
Classic Velouté Sauce
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken, veal, or vegetable stock
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Make the blond roux:
In a heavy-bottomed 6 cup saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and whisk together until the butter and flour mixture has small bubbles but does not brown, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the stock:
Whisk in 1 cup of the stock all at once, and continue to whisk until it is smooth and lump-free. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1 cup of stock, salt, and pepper. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a low boil (small bubbles break over the surface of the sauce), stirring constantly with a whisk. Once the sauce reaches a low boil, keep whisking the sauce for 2 minutes.
Store the sauce:
Use immediately or pour into a storage container. Spread the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter over the surface of the hot sauce to keep a skin from forming. Cool the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes before refrigerating or freezing, covered with a lid.
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