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Bechamel or White Sauce

A basic white sauce is essential in many dishes and lends itself to endless variations. This recipe makes a medium-thick sauce to coat food.
Course sauces
Cuisine French
Keyword Bechamel, sauces, White Sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 cups


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper


  • Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat.
  • Once butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour to make a smooth, soft paste called a roux.
  • Add about one-quarter of the milk and mix well with a whisk. When it is smooth, whisk in the remaining milk.
  • Set the pan back over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  • When the sauce starts to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat to very low and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes. Whisking occasionally.
  • The sauce will continue to thicken slightly. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.


For a Cream Sauce, substitute cream for 1/2 to 1 cup of the milk.
For a Blonde Sauce, add the flour to the melted butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is pale beige color, 1 - 2 minutes. Heat the liquid before adding it off heat. Bring to a boil, whisking, and simmer for 3 - 5 minutes.
For a Bechamel Sauce. Heat the milk with a chopped onions, one bay leaf and a few black peppercorns until scalded. Remove from heat, cover and left infuse for 20 minutes. Strain before adding to the roux, made for a Blonde Sauce.