Basic Bechamel (White Sauce)

Total Time
Prep 0 mins
Cook 10 mins

This classic sauce, sometimes simply called white sauce, adds a rich and creamy quality to a variety of vegetable dishes. It can be spooned over hot cooked vegetables just before serving or mixed with them to make an easy yet elegant creamed vegetable course. To turn the creamed vegetables into a gratin, place in a baking dish, top with cheese and then bake in the oven until golden. Personally, my favorite use of bechamel sauce is to make S#!t on a Shingle (Chipped Beef on Toast). (Sorry about that, folks... but that is what my mother always called it). Enjoy. *Note See steps #5 & #6 if desiring a thinner bechamel or a cheese sauce. *Note: I have also been known to sub 1/4 cup of the liquids with 1/4 cup white wine (but that's my little secret... at least it used to be).

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, 1 minute. Add the paprika and/or nutmeg (if using) and add the bay leaf.
  2. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and simmer to blend the flavors, 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf before using.
  4. Now you can use your sauce any way you like. Like I said before, my personal favorite use is for making Recipe #514039, but I also like eating this bechamel, AS IS, on veggies or making a cheese sauce (see *Notes below). Enjoy!
  5. *Note: For a thinner sauce, reduce the flour and butter to 2 tablespoons each, but stay the same with the liquid(s). (I highly recommend this if you plan to make a cheese sauce with this (posted below).
  6. *Note: To create a cheese sauce, whisk 1/2 cup (or more) of grated Gruyère, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Sharp Cheddar or Farm-house White Cheddar (my fav) or any other cheese into the finished béchamel sauce. If a lighter cheese sauce is desired, substitute chicken stock for part of the milk, or use a lesser amount of the flour & butter ratio (like posted above).
Most Helpful

Everybody should be able to make a béchamel sauce from scratch, as it's a basis from where so many marvellous dishes start out.<br/>I strongly recommend that you do heat the milk, as it makes it easier to incorporate into the roux ( the flour and butter combo). I also recommend the use of the bay leaf, and if you want to do it like the pro's, you should heat the milk with a bay leaf studded to a small onion with a really does make a difference.<br/>I didn't like the inclusion of the paprika, and in a classic béchamel it has no place...sorry Rosie.<br/>As Rosie suggests, you can replace the milk with hot chicken stock, making it a veloute, which is great for chicken pies and suchlike.<br/>I added cheese to my béchamel and turned it into a beautiful soft silky cheese sauce, which I tossed some pasta through-just delicious!<br/>Thanks Rosie.<br/>Made for PRMR.

Noo March 25, 2014