Breaking Sauce… The Chefs Explain

Home / Food / Where & What I Ate / Breaking Sauce… The Chefs Explain
Breaking Sauce... How to avoid it

Cooking Class

Though I eat well and often at some fine (some bad) establishments and enjoy cooking, I by no means feel like I “know” what I am doing. Like my wines, I just know what I like. I voraciously LOVE cooking/travel shows and soak up culture through food. This is simply the way I was taught to understand different people and places since I come from such a varied and culturally complex background.

Breaking Sauce... How to avoid it

On to the sharing…

I was watching TheTaste on ABC last week when a very dramatic (insert sarcasm here) moment occurred that baffled me. In the intense final moments of the reality TV show, the already off’ed chefs were horrified that Louise’ sauce might have broken. I was lost. So of course I took to Facebook where I requested the help from my other culinary cohorts and chefs were able to be my personal culinary wiki for a moment. (If you know what breaking your sauce is, then good for you… move on) For those of you who do not, here is what I found out for us all.

MY QUESTION: Chefs. .. What does it mean to break the sauce when making it?


P. Bowers – Components separate- no longer emulsify.

Me – What causes it?

P. Bowers – Happens when too much heat is applied- proteins change structure and no longer bond. 

Or something like that. 

I’ll bet Andrew Spurgin breaks sauces all the time and can help.

Me – Ok… Next question naturally is can you fix a broken sauce? And how? Andrew Spurgin, Chad White, Melissa Mayer, Maylin Chavez, Matt Gordon? I know all of you have an answer. Maybe different ones too.

P. Bowers – Nope. Can’t un-cook an egg, for example.

Tommy Gomes – It then becomes a new dish

M. Liu Albrecht – Some broken sauces can be repaired. a little hot water and vigorous whisking. or the addition of an emulsifier like dijon.

Andrew Spurgin – All this info is very sound, especially Paul’s comments

P. Bowers – I may not be a chef, but I’m damn good at breaking sauces.

P. Bowers – BTW- it’s not only too much heat (as in too high temperture) but too much *time* on the heat (even if it’s low).

Do you have another tip for keeping from breaking your sauces? Leave a comment in the space below and share with us what you have found WORKS! Good luck.