how to make a good cream sauce | Family Cuisine

The cream sauce is one of the most basic and important sauces in cooking. It can be used on many different dishes, including pasta, vegetables, seafood, and meat.

How to make cream sauce for pasta, chicken, fish and more – a recipe collection of easy to prepare delectable cream sauces.

Cream Sauce for Pasta with lemon garlic infusion

  • Go straight to the Recipe Card or
  • Browse the different recipes below (1 min) – the more involved recipes have their own how-to pages we link to while the really easy ones are included in the Recipe Card.

This collection of recipes is comprised of variations of basic white cream sauce that is easy, stable and truly delicious – no matter which direction your taste buds take you.

Most of the sauces are calibrated to yield 4 servings, but take this statement with a grain of salt – if you tend to enjoy more generous cream sauce helpings, especially as far as pasta is concerned, then perhaps you want to double the quantities. We often do. We leave the decision entirely up to you – recipes are guidelines, their perfection is in the hands of the cook.

And before you browse the different options, consider these helpful tips:

  • for a thicker sauce without the wait time for simmering you can always mix a slurry (1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp cold water) and gradually add it to the simmering cream while you stir – the sauce will thicken instantly, you may not even need to use all the slurry.
  • if a recipe calls for chicken stock to impart savory depth to the sauce you can use chicken base, and vice versa. The advantage of the base over the stock is shortened simmering time.
  • non-stick pans are your friend when making a cream sauce, so are pans with larger cooking surface (faster reduction time)
  • always use fresh heavy cream – not half and half, not regular cream. The fat content of heavy cream is what gives all the sauces below their stability, richer flavor and suave texture.
  • because we don’t use butter in the recipes that follow, the sauces can be reheated on low heat and will not break, have less calories and cholesterol than butter based versions and taste just as fabulous.

Recipes: Creamy Sauces for Pasta, Chicken, Seafood & More

1. Spinach Cream Sauce

This is a multi-purpose sauce you can savor with all manners of pasta, drizzle over pan-seared or baked fish, sauted shrimp, seared scallops, chicken and pork. We recommend that you use fresh spinach but frozen chopped spinach works as well. Here is the recipe and short video showing how to make it.

2. Mushroom Cream Sauce

A simple preparation that can be made with different mushrooms – from cultivated button or cremini to wild mushrooms such as porcini or chantarelle. In Germany, and especially in Bavaria, this sauce is referred to as a ‘creamy mushroom stew’ and is most frequently served with bread dumplings. Go to the recipe for Creamy Mushroom Sauce.

3. Creamy Mustard Dill Sauce

Excellent with both fish and red meats, especially lamb. It includes some honey for balancing sweetness, which you can reduce or eliminate if you’d rather experience more of the Dijon mustard. Be sure to use fresh dill and season to taste. Find the recipe here.

4. Lemon Cream Sauce

Another multi-purpose, delicious cream sauce infused with the flavor and scent of fresh lemons and with a confident savory base. Find the full recipe here.

5. Garlic Cream Sauce

Hands down perfect for any kind of pasta. You can make it really, really simple or spruce it up by adding finely chopped fresh herbs, dried herbs, grated Parmesan, seasonings etc. See the Recipe Card below for ingredients and instructions.

Spicy Mexican chorizo cream sauce for chicken, pasta, fish and seafood.

6. Chorizo Cream Sauce

A spicy, richly flavored Mexican chorizo sauce you can enjoy with chicken, pasta, fish or shellfish. Very simple to make, adjust the ingredients per your preference. See the Recipe Card below about how to make it or check out our Creamy Chorizo Pasta recipe.

Creamy honey mustard sauce

7. Honey Mustard Cream Sauce

A breeze to make and so versatile! Goes perfectly with pork cutlets, chicken, salmon and more. Only a handful of ingredients besides heavy cream – Dijon mustard, honey and seasoning. Here is the recipe for the Thin Pork Chops dish shown above, the recipe for the sauce by itself is in the Recipe Card below.

8. Spicy Cream Sauce (Cajun or Red Pepper Flakes)

The spiciness in this one can come by way of Cajun seasoning or good old red pepper flakes and you are in full control over the intensity of either. To infuse the sauce with umami we employ chicken stock/chicken paste. Very simple to make, see the Recipe Card below for instructions.

9. Simple Heavy Cream Cheese Sauce

This cheesy cream sauce is true north when it comes to decadent, from scratch mac and cheese. It never fails to earn us the good graces of our son and many, many more kids Chris has made it for while working at various restaurant. The only thing you need to pay attention to is the temperature of the heavy cream – it must be on the lower side so as to not cause the cheese to break. And in the unlikely event that the cheese does break, then you can simply blend the whole thing, add a bit more cream and gently heat it up on low. Go to the Recipe Card for the details.

10. Whole Grain Mustard Cream Sauce

Delectable with pork, we make this one almost every time we pan-fry thick pork chops. It requires only two ingredients, see the Recipe Card below about how to make it.

Shrimp cream sauce for fish and pasta - shown with cod fillet and spinach fettuccine..

11. Shrimp Cream Sauce

The perfect creamy shrimp sauce to take a steak into surf ‘n’ turf territory or ladle over a baked fish fillet or simply a bowl of al dente pasta. Full recipe here.

Bacon cream sauce pasta with red pepper flakes and parsley.

12. Bacon Cream Sauce (Multi-Purpose)

You have two options for this easy sauce – use smoked bacon to infuse the cream with its smokiness in addition to the other delicious flavor agents that part take in its making, or use pancetta and capitalize on its intense porky umami flavor. Either way you choose to go, this creamy bacon sauce is wonderful with pasta, scallops, baked potatoes, fish, plainly prepared chicken, steak and more! Full recipe here.

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