Learn how to make Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce) at home using my super simple recipe. One of the classic French mother sauces, this perfectly smooth and creamy white sauce is great to make casseroles, souffle, and pasta dishes.
Here are some more homemade sauce recipes for you – Homemade Pizza Sauce, Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce, Boom Boom Sauce, Homemade Thai Peanut Sauce, Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce, Peri Peri Sauce, and Harissa Sauce.
About This Recipe
Made with 3 main ingredients – all-purpose flour, milk, and butter, Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce) is one of the most versatile sauces that can be used in an array of recipes. This white sauce is one of the 5 French mother sauces, that is extensively used in the kitchen to dress up many dishes.
Bechamel Sauce forms the base of many other sauces like mornay sauce, Nantua sauce, cheddar cheese sauce, etc, and is used to make the base of savory souffle, holds the casseroles together, and can be used as the pasta sauce along with a few other ingredients added to it. I also use it in some of my sandwich fillings, it makes them extra creamy.
So basically, if you don’t want to use a ton of cheese and still want a creamy, silky texture, then this is the sauce you want to add to your dishes.
While making a perfect Bechamel sauce recipe is fairly easy, there is a fine line between making a perfect sauce to breaking it beyond repair. If not made properly, it can curdle and become a goopy mess.
The key to a perfectly smooth, silky, and medium-thick sauce is to add hot milk to butter and flour (roux). It will use an extra pot, but you can heat the milk with bay leaf and peppercorns on another burner while you are preparing the roux.
Serve it as a creamy dip with an appetizer or use it as a base for your pasta, casserole, savory soufflé, sausage gravy, baked macaroni, or other similar recipes. This one is super easy, made with simple ingredients, and comes together in no time.
Milk – Milk is the key ingredient of this creamy sauce which makes it rich, creamy, and delicious. Use whole milk (full-fat milk) for the best results.
You can use non-dairy milk options such as almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk to make it dairy-free.
Butter – Use the best quality unsalted butter with high-fat content and do not compromise on the quantity. It is the butter that makes the white sauce recipe so rich and good. You can also use ghee (clarified butter) instead of regular butter.
For a vegan or dairy-free version, use olive oil or coconut oil instead.
All-Purpose Flour – Flour when mixed with milk and butter thickens this sauce.
Whole Spices – Flavor the sauce with bay leaves and black peppercorns.
You can also add dried herbs to flavor this sauce.
How To Make Bechamel Sauce
Before you start to cook the Bechamel sauce, gather the ingredients.
This is a very important step as you need to be quick while adding some of them to the pan at the right time. If not, your sauce could become lumpy.
Make The Sauce
Add 4 cups of whole milk to a medium saucepan and keep the pan over medium-low heat.
Add 2 bay leaves and 3-4 whole black peppercorns to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching at the bottom of the pan.
Discard the bay leaves using a pair of tongs and peppercorns using a sieve and remove the pan from heat.
Transfer the milk to a jug or a measuring cup and set it aside.
Heat 4 tablespoon unsalted butter in a pan over medium heat.
Once the butter has melted, add 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour and stir using a silicone spatula to form a smooth glossy paste. This paste is called a roux.
Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the roux is light golden in color, stirring continuously.
Note – Do not overcook the roux. We are only aiming to remove the raw flavor.
Switch off the heat.
Now VERY SLOWLY, pour the hot milk into the pan and keep whisking continuously with a wire whisk using the other hand. Whisk vigorously until smooth.
Note – If you pour the milk all at once, the sauce might turn out lumpy.
Switch on the heat to low.
Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
Note – You can also season the sauce with some ground nutmeg.
Cook the sauce until it starts to coat the back of the spatula, stirring continuously.
Remove the pan from heat and cover with cling film to avoid the formation of skin over the sauce.
Once the sauce has cooled, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use as desired.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even after following the steps carefully, if your sauce still has lumps, then pass it through a fine-mesh strainer.
Adding a little ice-cold water instead of the next splash of milk and whisking vigorously also brings back the sauce from lumpy to smooth. Add the remaining milk once the sauce is back to being smooth.
The five mother sauces are Béchamel Sauce, Veloute Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Brown or Espagnole Sauce, and Hollandaise Sauce. It is said that any other sauce can be made by modifying these sauces.
To make the gluten-free Bechamel Sauce, you can substitute all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour or you can use a combination of cornstarch and rice flour.
If you are looking for a vegan version, then use almond milk or coconut milk instead of dairy milk. Also use olive oil to roast the all-purpose flour, instead of butter.
There is no difference between Bechamel and white sauce. Bechamel sauce is also called white sauce which is made from all-purpose flour, butter, and milk.
But Béchamel sauce is different from cheese sauce, as grated cheese is added to the Béchamel sauce to make the cheese sauce. Check out my Parmesan Cheese Sauce.
No, Bechamel sauce is not as same as Alfredo sauce.
While BéchamelsSauce is a simple white sauce and uses only all-purpose flour, milk, and butter, Alfredo sauce is made using heavy cream, butter, garlic, fresh parsley, and parmesan or cream cheese.
My favorite way of using this silky and smooth Bechamel sauce is in casseroles, pasta, and souffle recipes. I use it to make Au Gratin Potatoes, Broccoli Rice Casserole, Mac and Cheese, Greek Moussaka, Creamed Spinach, Croque Monsieur, Classic Lasagna, and Baked Vegetables.
It makes the base of filling for my Creamy Corn Sandwich and Spinach and Cheese Sandwich.
Sometimes, I add this white sauce to my continental gravy recipes to make them rich and creamy.
You can store this white sauce in the fridge for about 5 days in a clean and dry airtight container and gently heat it again when you want to use it next.
If you do not have any immediate use for the bechamel sauce, you can stash the sauce in the freezer for later use in airtight containers or food bags.
This sauce thickens once cooled. Add some milk to it while reheating to get the perfect texture.
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Bechamel Sauce Recipe (White Sauce)
- 4 cups whole milk (full-fat milk)
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 3-4 whole black peppercorns
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Add milk to a medium saucepan and keep the pan over medium-low heat.
- Add bay leaves and black peppercorns to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching at the bottom of the pan.
- Discard the bay leaves using a pair of tongs and peppercorns using a sieve and remove the pan from heat.
- Transfer the milk to a jug or a measuring cup and set it aside.
- Heat butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Once the butter has melted, add flour and stir using a silicone spatula to form a smooth glossy paste. This paste is called a roux.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the roux is light golden in color, stirring continuously.
- Note – Do not overcook the roux. We are only aiming to remove the raw flavor.
- Switch off the heat.
- Now VERY SLOWLY, pour the hot milk into the pan and keep whisking continuously with a wire whisk using the other hand. Whisk vigorously until smooth.
- Note – If you pour the milk all at once, the sauce might turn out lumpy.
- Switch on the heat to low.
- Add salt and black pepper and mix well.
- Cook the sauce until it starts to coat the back of the spatula, stirring continuously.
- Remove the pan from heat and cover with cling film to avoid the formation of skin over the sauce.
- Once the sauce has cooled, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use as desired.