In this recipe post, I am sharing an easy way to make a restaurant style White Sauce Recipe which is a popular base for many recipes in Italian and European cuisines on the whole. Also regionally known as Béchamel Sauce, this sauce is basically prepared from a roux of butter and flour to which milk is added later. If you follow this recipe with minimal ingredients, you’ll know that its no rocket science to easily prepare this sauce at home too. And once you master it, you can easily make all your favorite pasta and baked dishes with this yummy sauce.
Table of Contents
About Béchamel Sauce
If we talk about ‘mother sauces’ in a particular cuisine, then for French cuisine, Béchamel Sauce is one of the most popularly used ones. A mother sauce a.k.a ‘grandes sauces’ in French, is basically a group of sauces on which other ‘daughter sauces’ (petites sauces in French) are based.
This recipe can also be referred to as the White Sauce Recipe, which is what it is commonly known as in the United States of America. Other names of this particular sauce are ‘besamel’ in Greece and ‘besciamella’ in Italy.
A classic Béchamel Sauce recipe is primarily composed of a roux, that is flour and butter in equal ratios along with milk. A mixture of flour and a chosen fat cooked together results in a roux.
This is used to thicken many sauces. The regional variations of the White Sauce Recipe may have seasonings like nutmeg and the likes. Even I have added some nutmeg powder or grated nutmeg in my recipe.
So, the ingredients that go into the making of this Béchamel Sauce are butter, flour (whole wheat flour/atta or all-purpose flour/maida), chilled milk, black pepper powder, salt and nutmeg.
The recipe is simple and doesn’t take much efforts. You just have to be careful while mixing in the ingredients in order to get a smooth, lump-free sauce.
About White Sauce Recipe
Like I mentioned earlier, the White Sauce Recipe is pretty simple and easy. This was amongst those recipes which we were taught quite early in our cooking school course, where it was also expected from us to make it perfectly.
The recipe of this Béchamel Sauce obviously comes from my cooking school notes. I use the same proportions of butter, milk and flour till today.
Usually, I prepare the Béchamel Sauce first and use it straightaway in any dish that I am making. Also, I may use either all-purpose flour (maida) or whole wheat flour (atta) to make this sauce.
In this White Sauce Recipe, I have added whole wheat flour. However, I have also mentioned the quantity of all-purpose flour that can be used.
I also make this same White Sauce Recipe with almond milk for some special occasions. So, if you or your family members are vegan or allergic to dairy, you can use almond milk instead of the dairy milk. Also, substitute butter with olive oil or any neutral flavored oil.
How to make White Sauce
We begin by making a roux of butter and flour. Roux is a french term which means flour cooked in fat (here in this case butter) which is used for thickening of sauces, soups and stews.
1. Heat a saucepan. Keep the heat to a low and add 2 tablespoons butter. You can use salted or unsalted butter.
2. When the butter melts and starts to bubble, add 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour (atta) or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (maida).
3. Using a wired whisk, stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it. Keep stirring so that no lumps are formed. The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.
You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring. Sauté the flour till you get a nice cooked aroma and a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.
Make White Sauce
4. Keep the heat to the lowest and then pour 1 cup cold or chilled milk in a gentle stream. Pour the milk with one hand and stir with the other.
The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps are not formed. If you use hot, warm milk or milk at room temperature, lumps may form.
5. Stir frequently, while the milk warms and heats up.
6. On low heat, simmer the sauce till it thickens.
7. When the sauce has thickened well and coats the back of a spoon, switch off the heat.
8. Remove the sauce pan from heat and add the seasonings – ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder, a generous pinch nutmeg powder or grated nutmeg and salt as required.
For a cheese sauce, you can add 2 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese.
9. Mix very well.
10. The Béchamel Sauce is ready and can be used for pastas, baked vegetable dishes or Soups.
Note: On cooling, the White Sauce will thicken more. So, you can keep the consistency accordingly.
Storage and Uses
If you do not plan to use up the white sauce straight away, store it in the refrigerator. It keeps well for 1 to 2 days in the fridge.
If the consistency looks very thick to you, after cooling, add a few splashes of hot milk. Mix well to thin the sauce a bit.
Add the sauce in your recipes as needed. Here are a few ideas, for you:
- Toss in some cooked pasta, steamed or roasted veggies in the sauce to make a delish homemade vegetable pasta.
- To the béchamel sauce, add in some raw or cooked vegetables to make a simple and easy veggie pasta salad.
- Add in the sauce in your soups to thicken it.
- Make mac and cheese or lasagna.
- You can also add the white sauce to make gratins, pies, baked pasta, casseroles and even as substitute for tomato sauce in a pizza.
- For butter, you can either use salted or unsalted butter in this recipe. For flour, you can either use whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour.
- Once the flour is added, make sure to stir often so that lumps are not formed. Frequently stirring the flour also cooks the flour evenly. You will notice the flour frothing and bubbling, when you sauté it. Make sure to sauté the flour until you get a nice nutty aroma and the flour turns a pale golden color.
- For a nice lump-free sauce, add chilled or cold milk. Lumps are formed with hot milk or milk at room temperature.
- If the sauce coats the back of a spoon, then you know that the sauce has thickened well and is done.
- You can substitute dairy milk with almond milk and butter with olive oil.
- The quantity of black pepper powder can be adjusted, as per your taste preferences.
- This recipe can also be made without adding nutmeg powder.
- To make a cheese sauce, you can add 2 tablespoons of freshly grated cheddar cheese or even 1 teaspoon of grated vegetarian parmesan cheese.
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White Sauce | Béchamel Sauce (Homemade & Easy)
- 2 tablespoons Butter salted or unsalted
- 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk – cold or chilled
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or ground white pepper, add as required
- 1 generous pinch ground nutmeg or grated nutmeg
- salt as required
- Heat a saucepan. Keep the heat to a low and add 2 tablespoons butter.
- When the butter melts and starts to bubble, then add 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
- Using a wired whisk, stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it. Keep on stirring so that no lumps are formed.
- The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.
- You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring. Sauté the flour till you get a nice cooked aroma from the flour and a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.
- Keep the heat to the lowest and then pour 1 cup of cold or chilled milk in a gentle stream.Pour the milk with one hand and stir the sauce mixture with the other.
- The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps are not formed. If you use hot or warm milk or milk at room temperature, lumps can form.
- Do stir frequently while the milk warms and heats up.
- On a low heat, simmer the sauce till it thickens.
- When the sauce has thickened well and coats the back of a spoon, turn off the heat.
- Keep the saucepan on your kitchen countertop and add the seasonings – ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder, a generous pinch of nutmeg powder or grated nutmeg and salt as required. For a cheese sauce, you can add 2 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese.
- Mix very well.
- The white sauce is ready and can be used for pasta or baked veggie dishes or soups. Do note that on cooling white sauce will thicken more. So you can keep the consistency accordingly.
- Once cooled, store the white sauce in the refrigerator if planning to use it later. It keeps well for 1 to 2 days in the fridge.
- Black pepper powder can be added less or more as per your taste.
- You can skip nutmeg powder if you prefer.
- Almond milk can be used instead of dairy milk for a plant based option. Also add olive oil or a neutral tasting oil instead of butter.
- Do use chilled or cold milk so that lumps are not formed.
- If after cooling the sauce has become too thick for your liking, add in a few tablespoons of hot milk and mix, so as to thin the consistency.
- The recipe can be scaled up to make for more portions of the white sauce.
- The approximate nutrition info is for the entire amount of béchamel sauce made from this recipe.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This White Sauce recipe from the archives, originally published in January 2017 has been updated and republished on February 2023.