Learn how to make bechamel sauce in just a few easy steps. Make this creamy sauce to use as a base for dozens of recipes.
What is bechamel sauce?
Bechamel, also known as white sauce, is one of the five “mother sauces” that are a staple in classic French cuisine. This just means it’s a basic sauce, used to create other sauces, which are known as secondary sauces. Bechamel is one of the most commonly used by home cooks. It can also be used as a sauce by itself, especially when adding extra seasonings.
The Mother Sauces
In total, there are five primary mother sauces:
How to make bechamel sauce
- Butter – unsalted; you can also use oil or fat drippings
- Flour – use regular all-purpose
- Milk – whole milk is best; a lower fat content will result in a thinner sauce
- Salt and white pepper – black pepper is fine too, you’ll just see the flecks in the sauce
- Warm the milk Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave just until small bubbles form around the edges. Warmed milk creates less of a reaction when added to the other ingredients and helps the sauce thicken faster.
- Make a roux: A roux is simply a mix of equal parts fat and flour, and it’s what thickens the sauce. To do this, heat the butter on low in a saucepan until just melted, then sprinkle in the flour. Whisk until combined and smooth.
Cook for another minute or two to get the raw flavor out of the flour. You’ll see small bubbles start to form in the mixture, but you don’t want the overall color to darken.
- Finish the sauce Whisk in the milk, pouring it slowly and gradually so it doesn’t clump. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Now you’re ready to use your bechamel sauce! You can also let it cool slightly, then store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat on the stove.
- Sauce is too thick: Keep on the stove and whisk in some extra warmed milk to thin it out
- Sauce won’t thicken: Try simmering it longer or making another roux in a separate pan and whisking it into the sauce. It’s done when it can coat the back of a spoon.
- Too many clumps: Whisking vigorously should fix this, but you can also use an immersion blender or run it through a sieve if it’s really bad.
USES FOR BECHAMEL SAUCE
There are so many ways to use this bechamel sauce recipe. One of my favorites is when I make Broccoli Beef and Cheddar Cheese Pie. Or, make it as a base for:
- Macaroni and cheese
- Lasagna or creamy casseroles
- Scalloped potatoes
- Pasta sauces
- White gravy
- Cheese soufflé
Watch how to make bechamel sauce below!
How to Make Bechamel Sauce
- 1/4 cup butter or oil, fat drippings
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp dash of white pepper
- 3 cups milk
- Warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave in measuring cup.
- In a medium sauce pan melt equal parts butter and then the flour.
- Whisk the flour and butter together and allow to simmer on low to cook the flour 1-2 minutes. The lightest (white color) roux will be slightly puffed.
- Gradually add the warm milk and whisk to incorporate until a smooth sauce forms on low heat. Cook several minutes, sauce will thicken.