What Is Melba Sauce? And How to Make It

This classic raspberry dessert sauce dates all the way back to the late 19th century, and was named in honor of a famous opera singer.

January 28, 2022

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Peach Melba - dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream

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Peach Melba - dessert of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream

Photo by: AlexPro9500/Getty Images

AlexPro9500/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera singer in the early 20th century, was so famous that not one, but two foods were named after her: melba toast and the subject of this article: peaches melba (topped off with melba sauce).

Fresh Raspberries at Market on Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia

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Fresh Raspberries at Market on Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia

Photo by: lillisphotography/Getty Images

lillisphotography/Getty Images

What Is Melba Sauce?

Created famous French chef Auguste Escoffier for Dame Nellie Melba, this sauce is a combination of puréed, strained fresh raspberries, red currant jelly, sugar and cornstarch. It's the topping for the dessert peach melba - a dish that consists of a poached peach, vanilla ice cream and melba sauce. Melba sauce is sometimes served over ice cream, fruit or cakes.

History of Melba Sauce

Helen Porter Mitchell was an operatic soprano known around the world as Dame Nellie Melba in the Victorian era. Performing around the world from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, she garnered popularity beyond anything an Australian had ever known. Chef Auguste Escoffier created the dish peaches melba to honor her when he cooked at the Savoy hotel in London. In the 1890s, he also created melba toast in her honor. These days, melba toast is more popular than peaches melba, with several store-bought flavors available in every grocery store in the U.S.

Directly above photograph of a stylish lemon tart with raspberry coulis

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Directly above photograph of a stylish lemon tart with raspberry coulis

Photo by: Onzeg/Getty Images

Onzeg/Getty Images

Melba Sauce Uses

Tart raspberries pair well with most sweet foods, so it stands to reason that raspberry sauce is also be tasty with most desserts.

You can drizzle it on pound cake, ice cream and fruit and use it to add raspberry to milkshakes or smoothies.

Add it to a squirt bottle to easily squeeze beautiful patterns of sauce over your desserts or on the dessert plate itself. Try squeezing a pool of sauce onto a plate, dragging it across the plate with a spoon to create a graphic line and placing a slice of lemon or fruit tart on top of it.

How to Make Melba Sauce from Raspberry Jam

Making Melba Sauce is so easy when you start with raspberry jam instead of whole fresh raspberries.

Empty the contents of a jar of raspberry preserves into a saucepan and add 1/2 cup red currant jelly and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes to meld the flavors, then immediately strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

Recipes for Peach Melba and Variations 

Photo by: Stephen Murello ©Stephen Murello

Stephen Murello, Stephen Murello

Poached peaches are the real deal in this classic peach melba recipe. Frozen berries are fine to use when fresh berries aren’t at their peak.

Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen

Full Recipe Name: Peach Melba Split

Talent Recipe: 

FNK Recipe: Food Networks Kitchen’s Peach Melba Split, as seen on Foodnetwork.com

Project: Foodnetwork.com, FN Essentials/Weeknights/Fall/Holidays

Show Name: 

Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

FNK_PeachMelbaSplit_H

Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: Peach Melba Split Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Networks Kitchen’s Peach Melba Split, as seen on Foodnetwork.com Project: Foodnetwork.com, FN Essentials/Weeknights/Fall/Holidays Show Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

A more modern take on the classic from the 1890’s, with berries and jam and frozen yogurt.

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

Grilling the peaches in a packet instead of poaching is so easy, and the cooked raspberries make an instant sauce.

Chef Name: Rachael Ray

Full Recipe Name: Peach Melba Saute and Ice Cream

Talent Recipe: Rachael Rayâ  s Peach Melba Saute and Ice Cream, as seen on Food Networkâ  s 30 Minute Meals

FNK Recipe: 

Project: Foodnetwork.com, CINCO/SUMMER/FATHERSDAY

Show Name: 30 Minute Meals

RachaelRay_PeachMelbaSauteAndIceCream_H

Chef Name: Rachael RayFull Recipe Name: Peach Melba Saute and Ice CreamTalent Recipe: Rachael Ray’s Peach Melba Saute and Ice Cream, as seen on Food Network’s 30 Minute MealsFNK Recipe: Project: Foodnetwork.com, CINCO/SUMMER/FATHERSDAYShow Name: 30 Minute Meals,Chef Name: Rachael Ray Full Recipe Name: Peach Melba Saute and Ice Cream Talent Recipe: Rachael Ray’s Peach Melba Saute and Ice Cream, as seen on Food Network’s 30 Minute Meals FNK Recipe: Project: Foodnetwork.com, CINCO/SUMMER/FATHERSDAY Show Name: 30 Minute Meals

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The peaches for this dessert are sauteed and the raspberries are tossed in at the end. Ginger snaps bring some crunch.

Photo by: Clarissa Westmeyer ©2011 Kalman & Pabst Photo Group

Clarissa Westmeyer, 2011 Kalman & Pabst Photo Group

Buying the crepes makes this dessert easier, giving you time to make the curd filling.

Peaches, raspberries and brandy come together in a skillet pie that’s best served warm with caramel sauce and in true melba style, with vanilla ice cream on the side.

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