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Béchamel Sauce: the traditional recipe for the popular white sauce

Total time: 15 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 10 people
By Cookist

Béchamel sauce is a basic, creamy white sauce, one of five mother sauces of French cuisine that everyone should know how to make. This easy recipe is the key to enrich lasagne, soufflés, casseroles, mac and cheese, and creamy dishes, or to create new sauces.

Béchamel sauce is made from a white roux, which is 1:1 ratio of butter and flour. Next, it is diluted with hot milk and cooked, stirring constantly, until thickened. If desired, you can flavor it with a pinch of nutmeg or salt. The right texture of the béchamel sauce should be creamy, smooth and a little bit pasty, anyway it depends on the recipe you are going to make. For making a lasagna or a soufflé, it should be firm. So, don't confuse béchamel sauce with Alfredo sauce as it is way richer!

To avoid lumps and make it perfect, it is important to continuously stir the mixture with a hand whisk, in this way it will be smooth and silky cream. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, and let it absorb before adding more.

Also known as white sauce in the U.S., the recipe origins are disputed between France and Italy. Originally the béchamel sauce was called “glue sauce” and it was probably Caterina dei Medici who exported it to France from Tuscany. It was only thanks to the Marquis Louis de Béchameil, the man believed to be the béchamel sauce inventor, that it was called béchamel sauce, while Pellegrino Artusi counts this recipe among the basic sauces of Italian cuisine, calling it balsamella.

Simply follow our step-by-step recipe for making the best creamy béchamel sauce.

How to use Basic Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel sauce is a great basic recipe for enriching creamy dishes. It is perfect for making creamy dishes like lasagne, mac and cheese and other pasta or gratin dishes. Also use béchamel to make a cheese soufflé or Croque monsieur.

Moreover, béchamel sauce is a mother sauce so it is perfect to create other types of creamy recipes as well, such as mornay sauce.

Tips for making the Best Béchamel White Sauce

If the béchamel sauce is too thick, let it cool and then dilute it with the milk. Then put the béchamel sauce back on the heat, without ever stopping stirring.

If it is too liquid, add a floured knob of butter and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

To make a vegan béchamel sauce, replace butter with oil and milk with a non- dairy option.

For the gluten-free béchamel sauce, add rice flour or cornstarch instead of traditional wheat all purpose flour.

If you want to try a cheesy béchamel sauce, add a cup of grated cheese.

For a shortcut, make the béchamel sauce in the microwave oven within 5 minutes.

How to store Homemade Béchamel Sauce

The béchamel sauce can be stored perfectly in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, closed in an airtight container, so you can make it ahead. When you need to use it, heat it slightly, add a few tablespoons of milk to make it more fluid and work it with a hand whisk.

Can you freeze Béchamel Sauce?

You can also freeze béchamel sauce for about 1 month.

600 ml
60 g
All-purpose flour
60 g
a pinch

How to make Béchamel Sauce

Pour the milk into a saucepan.

Put the saucepan on the stove and heat it over low heat.

Collect the diced butter in a second saucepan.

Melt gently over low heat.

Add the flour, all at once, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon or a whisk so that no lumps form.

Toast the mixture on the stove, until it is perfectly blended and golden.

Pour in the hot milk, continuing to stir constantly.

Put on the heat and cook, stirring continuously, until you get the right consistency.

Season with salt.

Flavor with a pinch of nutmeg.

The béchamel sauce is ready to be used for your various preparations.

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