Créole Sauce

Créole Sauce is ubiquitous throughout the Caribbean. It is used over any roasted, grilled or fried meat, poultry or fish. Créole Sauce, or Sauce créole à la tomate as it is called in the francophone Caribbean, is a tomato-based sauce slow-simmered with herbs and spices. (However, very different from Italian tomato-based sauces.)


Typical Caribbean Version

A typical Caribbean tomato sauce consists of oil, vegetables, spices, hot pepper and tomato sauce or tomato paste. A Caribbean authentic Créole sauce is prepared with fresh vegetables such as onions and also green bell peppers, and fresh spices and fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, garlic, salt, and hot peppers. In many Caribbean recipes, adding a whole hot chile pepper for flavor enhancement. When the sauce is boiling, the pepper must not break, otherwise the sauce will be peppery hot. We have seen a recipe using a Scotch Bonnet, a chile pepper with a rating of 80,000–400,000 on the Scoville Scale, about as hot as the Habanero Chile. (For comparison, a typical Jalapeño is 2,500-8,000.)

icon Here is a sample Caribbean recipe (from

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add tomato paste or fresh tomatoes. Mix tomato paste entirely with oil by stirring.
  3. Add marinade or chopped herbs, spices and veggies and fry for a 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Add water or broth and adjust taste. Let boil to desired consistency..
  5. If cooking with leftover cooking meat and poultry, follow steps 1-2 and add marinade, then follow step 4.
  6. Add a few of drops of lemon or lime juice or vinegar.

New Orleans (and Louisiana in general) is part of the original Le Monde Créole. It shares history with the former Spanish and French colonies throughout the Caribbean. New Orleans is often called the "northernmost Caribbean city". Read our essay on the history of French and Spanish cuisine in the Americas.

In the U.S., each state usually has its own “original dish". In Alabama and Mississippi it is fried green tomatoes. Maine has the lobster. Texas has barbecue. Only Louisiana has developed an entirely individual, world-renowned cuisine, inspired by the French and Spanish but built on ingredients and seasonings and dishes that that combine the European roots with African and Native American. This is the essence of the New Orleans Créole cuisine. Créole cuisine had the benefit of the melting pot of people in the port city, and ingredients from all over the world helped shape the food. Ingredients like butter, okra, tomatoes, and exotic spices laid the foundation for the Creole “city food” found in Louisiana today. (Compared to that, Cajun cuisine is the country-style food of Catholic refugees who migrated to the Louisiana Colony from Acadia (Nova Scotia) and Quebec, following the French loss at the end of the Seven Years War (1763). Créole cooking contains more expensive, imported goods from Europe, the Caribbean, and even Africa. Class dismissed.)


New Orleans Style Créole Sauce

New Orleans Créole Sauce is one such example of the amazing food of Louisiana. In New Orleans, Créole Sauce (or Sauce Piquant as it is also known) is most often associated with Shrimp Creole, but it can also be served it with grits and grillades (pan-fried pork or steak medallions). Louisiana Créole Sauce combines the seasoning pillars of the region. It has all the basic items found in Gumbo, Étouffée, or Jambalaya (the Holy Trinity: onions, celery green bell pepper).

icon New Orleans Style Créole Sauce
from the Gumbo Pages


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • The Holy Trinity:
    • 4 oz onions, finely chopped
    • 4 oz celery, finely chopped
    • 2 oz green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 quart tomato sauce or tomato purée
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes, or fresh Creole tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • Créole seasoning blend to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  1. Sauté the onions, celery, bell pepper and the garlic in the oil until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, bay leaf, thyme and Créole seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat immediately and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaf and adjust seasonings. If not using the Créole seasoning blend, season now with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.


Créole Sauce cross-pollinated back to France from the colonies. A recipe at calls for: 4 tomatoes, 1 bunch of chives or 6 shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 bunch of fresh herbs (coriander, basil or parsley dish) 5 tbsp oil, tablespoon of salt, pepper and Cayenne pepper. What is obviously missing is the Holy Trinity and Créole Seasoning and the only thing Caribbean that remains is the Cayenne Pepper. Nevertheless, this is an example of how recipes evolve and travel around the world.



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Last updated: February 20, 2019