How to Make Bechamel Sauce

Cooking Up Memories
by Cooking Up Memories
2 cups
20 min

Bechamel Sauce also known as white sauce is one of the five mother sauces, meaning its basic and versatile and you can count on it every single time. The perfect balance of flour, butter and milk, Bechamel Sauce is the building block for all of those creamy, satisfying dishes you — and your family — crave.


In its simplest terms, roux is a paste made of butter and flour.

Read your flour bag and you will see that it tells you to never consume uncooked flour. Listen to the bag. All flour contains bacteria carrying disease. It’s one of the reasons we are not supposed to eat raw cookie dough, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Combining flour and melted butter over medium heat results in a tastier foundation for your sauce. And the longer you cook the roux, the more complex the flavor becomes.

Mix together equal parts of unsalted butter and flour to make roux. A roux is ground zero for most sauces, soups and gravies. Melt butter over medium heat, whisk in flour and wait patiently. Stir with a wooden spoon or whisk occasionally. The paste will start pale yellow and deepen in stages to a dark, almost chocolate brown. How long you cook your roux depends a lot on how you are going to use it.

The Sauces

I bet you have heard the Food Network chefs toss around the concept of the Mother Sauces as if it is some long-held secret. It’s not.

I’ve noticed while thumbing through my grandmother’s recipe box, that most every dish is built on one of these five foundations.

Think comfort food and you are thinking Bechamel Sauce. Light roux combined with milk or cream results in the perfect base for mac & cheese, pot pie, biscuits & gravy, and casseroles. You’ll find that my Breakfast Sausage Gravy starts with a creamy Bechamel sauce.

You can add many different ingredients to a basic bechamel or white sauce to transform it into something more flavorful, such as white wine, cheese, cooked vegetables and so on.

Veloute Sauce

A slightly darker roux augmented with chicken stock or fish stock produces Veloute Sauce. Remember a white sauce uses cream as it’s liquid. Use this sauce in a lot of the same ways you use Bechamel Sauce, but also delicious for piccatas, chicken or turkey gravy, soups and bisques.

Espagnnole Sauce

When beef or lamb take center stage, an Espagnole Sauce is in order. A darker, milk-chocolate appearing roux brings the complex flavor that will stand up to heartier meals. This sauce is often called a brown sauce, gravy or demi glaze.

Added diced veggies and beef stock create a luscious blanket for braised mushrooms, steaks and lamb.

Hollandaise Sauce

Say bye-bye to flour and welcome egg yolk to the party and you have yourself a Hollandaise Sauce.

Perfect on vegetables, eggs, crab cakes, and potato salad, this glorified mayonnaise brings a touch of sophistication and elegance. Hollandaise is a little more finicky than her flour-based sisters, but well worth it.

Tomato Sauce

Rounding out the Five Mothers is humble workhorse Tomato Sauce.

Traditionalists may start with a roux, but most of the time, you can achieve perfect tomato sauce with tomatoes (even canned), herbs and fragrants such as garlic and onion. Simple and delicious, Tomato Sauce

paves the way to perfect pasta dish, chili and stew.

Back to Bechamel Sauce

I am pretty sure my grandmother never uttered the word “Bechamel,” but she knew that a white sauce made of butter, flour and milk was a sure-fire way to churn out her home-cooked favorites.

It’s super convenient to store Bechamel Sauce in small plastic containers or bags in your freezer. It’s like a super power to have that little head start the next time your family is clamoring for biscuits and gravy in the morning and macaroni and cheese that night.

Just measure out left over Bechamel Sauce in usable portions and let it cool in the fridge before putting it in the freezer. Be sure to make a note on the outside of the container to remind you how much sauce you are

starting with!

If the thawed Bechamel feels a little thick, I always cut it with a little additional milk, half and half or cream.

How to make Bechamel Sauce

  • Melt butter in sauce pan. Be careful not to let the butter brown, we want this to be a white sauce.
  • Whisk flour into butter and cook 2-3 minutes. This will create a paste.
  • Slowly add in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer over low heat until sauce thickens.

Bechamel Sauce

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How to Make Bechamel Sauce
Recipe details
  • 2  cups
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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  • ▢ 1/4 c Butter
  • ▢ 1/4 c Flour
  • ▢ 2 c Milk or Half & Half

Melt butter in sauce pan. Be careful not to let the butter brown, we want this to be a white sauce.
Whisk flour into butter and cook 2-3 minutes. This will create a paste.
Slowly add in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer over low heat until sauce thickens.
  • Season based on the recipe that you are creating with this bechamel sauce.
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