Make this creamy white sauce pasta or bechamel sauce pasta from scratch in just 30 minutes. It makes for a perfect lazy dinner and is really popular among kids. Here is how to make it at home.
Pasta is a great option for your quick dinners and therefore I often make them for my meals. You can try some of my favorite pasta recipes here – Garlicky Roasted Red Pepper Pasta, Masala Macaroni, Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta, Chicken Florentine Pasta, and Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.
About This Recipe
White Sauce Pasta, also called Bechamel Sauce Pasta is a creamy pasta dish where cooked pasta is coated with a rich and cheesy white sauce. This recipe comes together in 30 minutes and tastes just like the one you get in the restaurants.
I made a veg version of this pasta dish but you can add chicken, shrimp, or any other meat that you like.
Pasta – I have used penne pasta, but you can use any variation such as spaghetti, macaroni, fusilli, fettuccine, or any other pasta of your choice. You can also make stuffed ravioli using this sauce as the base.
Vegetables – I have added onions, mushrooms, mixed bell peppers, and carrots but you can go ahead and add more veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, baby corn, spinach, kale, etc.
You can also add chicken, shrimp, diced ham, or any other meat along with the veggies. You can also skip the veggies and just use the non-veg protein.
Milk, Cream, Cheese, and All-Purpose Flour – For the creamy white sauce, you will need these 4 ingredients. They together will give the perfect velvety texture to the pasta.
I have used shredded cheddar cheese, but you can definitely pump up the recipe and use cheese varieties such as mozzarella, gouda, emmental, parmesan, or even a mix of a few.
Spices – I have used freshly cracked black pepper, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. You can also use mixed Italian seasoning.
Adjust the amount of these seasonings as per your taste and preference. If you like it to be spicier, increase the red pepper flakes.
How To Make White Sauce Pasta
Make sure to get the prep work done in advance. If the veggies are chopped and pasta cooked in advance, this recipe is a breeze to make.
Cook 10 oz (300 g) uncooked penne pasta as per the package instructions. Drain and keep aside. Keep in mind to reserve some water while cooking the pasta. It will be used to thin the sauce later.
Start by heating 2 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Once the butter is melted and slightly hot, add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and ¼ cup finely chopped onions and cook for a minute. Garlic adds a lovely flavor to the pasta, so don’t skip it.
Add ¼ cup sliced carrots, ¼ cup sliced mushrooms, and ½ cup cubed mixed bell peppers to the skillet and saute for a minute.
Now add 1 and ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour and cook for a minute. Keep stirring continuously. All-purpose flour makes the best creamy sauce but you can try adding half whole wheat flour for a healthier version.
Set the heat to low. Pour 1 cup warm whole milk very slowly and whisk continuously using a wire whisk while pouring. This process is very important to get a creamy sauce so be careful while adding the milk.
Add salt to taste, ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and cook the sauce on low heat until it starts to thicken. Keep stirring continuously.
Stir in ¼ cup heavy cream and ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
Add the cooked pasta along with ¼ cup of the water in which it was cooked to the skillet.
Cook on medium heat for a minute. Add some more reserved water from cooking the pasta if the pasta is too thick. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.
Pro Tips By Neha
Make sure you cook the pasta Al dente. If it’s overcooked, it will be mushy, sticky, and won’t taste great when mixed with the sauce.
Serve it hot. This pasta tends to thicken a bit when cooled down, so keep a little extra sauce in the paste while cooking.
Load it with veggies of your choice. It is also a great way to use up the leftover veggies in the fridge.
Always reheat the pasta by adding a little milk or broth to maintain the creamy and saucy texture. You can also reserve some water from cooking the pasta and use it to thin it down.
Frequently Asked Questions
White sauce is made with equal parts of butter and all-purpose flour with milk added to it, while Alfredo sauce is made with grated parmesan, butter, and some pasta water.
There is no flour added in alfredo sauce.
Yes, you can definitely mix red sauce and white sauce for the pasta, it is popularly called pink sauce. After the white sauce is ready, add ½ cup of red sauce to the pan and keep the remaining process the same to make pink sauce pasta.
White sauce pasta is usually rich because of the use of milk, cream, and cheese and therefore is a bit on the heavy side, whereas the red sauce pasta is on the lighter side because the base is made of tomatoes.
But it is definitely a good way to include veggies in your diet, as you can load this pasta with the nutrition of different vegetables.
Yes, you will need a thin base if you are cooking the pasta in the sauce itself. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes for the pasta to cook in the sauce itself. But for better results, always cook the pasta separately and mix it with the sauce.
To make it less creamy, just use milk and cheese and avoid adding heavy cream.
For a comforting dinner, pair this delectable, creamy, and smooth white sauce pasta along with Garlic Knots, and you’re done for the day.
Serve this Bechamel sauce pasta with garlic bread, dinner rolls, bruschetta, or open toasts on the side. You can serve it as a side dish with your Italian meal.
Some sides such as parmesan, asparagus, roasted green beans, roasted broccoli, are also a great idea to serve with this creamy pasta.
Vegan – To make a vegan version, you can use almond milk or soy milk instead of regular milk and cream. Also, substitute the butter with olive oil. Skip adding the cheese or use vegan cheese.
Gluten-Free – If you are looking for a gluten-free option, then you need to substitute a few ingredients in this recipe.
Firstly use gluten-free pasta instead of pasta made with whole wheat or all-purpose flour. Then for the sauce, instead of all-purpose flour, you can use in rice flour or any other gluten-free flour.
This pasta stays good for about 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Just make sure you either store it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag.
It thickens while storing, so when you are ready to serve it again, add some warm milk or broth and cook the dish until warm.
If you want to prep this dish beforehand, you can do it too. So whenever I have to serve it for parties or any other occasion, I cook the pasta, make the sauce and stir fry the veggies and store all these three in different containers. When it’s time to serve, I heat the sauce in a pan, add stir-fried veggies and cooked pasta, let it heat and then serve it fresh.
If you are planning to freeze it, then keep the pasta undercooked a bit. If you cook it fully, it will become mushy after thawing and reheating. To reheat, thaw the pasta in the refrigerator and reheat when you want to serve.
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White Sauce Pasta Recipe
- Large Skillet
- 10 ounces uncooked penne pasta (300 g)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup finely chopped onions
- ¼ cup sliced carrots
- ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup cubed mixed bell peppers (cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 1-½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup warm whole milk
- salt (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- a handful fresh basil
- Cook penne pasta as per the package instructions. Drain and keep aside. Keep in mind to reserve some water while cooking the pasta. It will be used to thin the sauce later.
- Start by heating unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Once the butter is melted and slightly hot, add garlic and onions and cook for a minute.
- Add carrots, mushrooms, and mixed bell peppers to the skillet and saute for a minute.
- Now add all-purpose flour and cook for a minute. Keep stirring continuously.
- Set the heat to low. Pour warm whole milk very slowly and whisk continuously using a wire whisk while pouring. This process is very important to get a creamy sauce so be careful while adding the milk.
- Add salt, black pepper, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes, and cook the sauce on low heat until it starts to thicken. Keep stirring continuously.
- Stir in heavy cream and shredded cheddar cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
- Add the cooked pasta along with ¼ cup of the water in which it was cooked to the skillet.
- Cook on medium heat for a minute. Add some more reserved water from cooking the pasta if the pasta is too thick. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.