The Sauce Maker’s Toolbox

In a previous post, I listed eleven items that every home cook should own before making sauce (see holiday cooking gift guide). After talking to all the wonderfully qualified chefs who have contributed to the last few posts, I’ve realized that I missed a few things from that original list.

Today, in post five of six in my epic series of posts on sauce, I point out the must-have tools for sauce making. Consider this your sauce toolbox.


16 kitchen tools for your sauce toolbox

1. Hand blender

2. Splatter screen (To protect your walls from the hand blender splatters.)

3. Fine mesh strainer (As used in the picture above for straining cranberry ketchup.)

4. Quality stainless steel sauce pan (Never use aluminum. It will alter the taste of your sauce.)

5. Silicone heat resistant spatulas

6. Steel whisks (Steel helps with emulsification.)

7. Gravy warmer (For the table.)

8. Food processor (Bye bye mortar and pestle.)

9. Sauce ladle (Necessary for transferring sauce.)

10. Wooden spoon (Don’t use a metal spoon in the sauce pan.)

11. A few good sauce serving sets (Host a sauce and dip party already.)

12. Double boiler (Don’t burn your sauces while keeping them warm.)

13. Skimmer (Flat perforated spoon to skim fat that floats to the top of your sauce.)

14. Fine grater (For zesting and more.)

15. Thermos (Keep cold sauces cold and warm sauces warm.)

16. Cast iron skillet (You want the bits from your meat and veggie dishes to stick to the pan, so you can make a yummy pan sauce.)

THE books on sauce

Chef Dennis K. Littley, the chef at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, and blogger at More than a Mount Full says that he relied on The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of American for many years, but now he has a new favorite: James Peterson’s Sauces, Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making.

Chef Chuck Kerber Executive Chef of Chaz Catering LLC and author of the site Pittsburgh Hot Plate recommends The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller.

“This book is instructive, but reads like a novel,” he said. “I admire Thomas Keller as a chef, and believe in a lot of the cooking philosophies that he puts into practice in his restaurants. If you haven’t read this book, it’s a must-have.”

I recently received The Sauce Book by Paul Gayler as a gift. LOVE IT. I’ve referenced it quite a bit for the posts I’ve written here and look forward to making many many recipes from it.

Here’s one more sauce book that I’ve yet to check out, but am mightily looking forward to: Chef Matt Selby of Denver’s Vesta Dipping Grill cookbook, Beyond the Sauce. Chef Selby generously contributed to the Saucy Dipper’s sauce series (again, thanks). Based on the amazing pictures on Vesta’s website and my own experience eating off their menu, my guess is that this book can’t be beat.

Beyond the Sauce Book

Ingredients to keep on standby

It’s not just kitchen tools and cookbooks that belong in the sauce toolbox. You should always value your sauce ingredients more than anything else.

According to Gayler in The Sauce Book, a tablespoon of soy sauce will add color to a pale sauce, and a spoonful of red currant jelly will take a “sharp edge off a sauce.” Both soy sauce and jelly make great investments because of their versatility and long shelf life, but it doesn’t stop there.

Saucy Dipper says you should always put a lemon or two in your shopping cart. Seems to me that many sauce recipes call for a squeeze of lemon and/or lemon zest.

Chef Billy Parisi, a culinary spokesperson for Lowes Foods and Heinen’s Grocery Stores as well as the in-house chef and culinary face to Sears Holdings Corporations recommends these ingredients for your sauce toolbox:

“First I would recommend a combination of Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper,” he said. “Second would be chicken stock, which will help thin or stretch a sauce.”

Chef Kerber votes for fresh herbs and flavored salts.  He said: “Have fun with this process. Nothing is off-limits!”

Amen to that.

What tools and ingredients do you think belong in the sauce toolbox?


  1. I feel pretty good – I have 15 out of 16 of the tools for the sauce toolbox. I don’t have a gravy warmer, but I do have some pretty gravy boats – do they count? Great tips from all of you on the ingredients – I like the one about red currant jelly – never knew about that one!

  2. I’m getting close! I still need a double boiler though! I can’t believe I don’t have one…so many recipes call for it. I also want to buy some flavored salt…I’ve been hearing great things about that. Thanks for sharing, my friend!

  3. @Monet – Let me know what you find on those flavored salts. I’d like to start experimenting, too.

    @Andrea – Hey! Glad you stopped by. I have a KitchenAid 1 quart stainless saucier that I really like.

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