How To

How to make a classic béchamel sauce

Master this classic sauce and use it in everything.
béchamel sauce
1 Cup
20M

Béchamel sauce adds a delicate creaminess to lasagne, cauliflower gratin and other dishes. In fact, it is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine, the other four are hollandaise, espagnole, tomat, and velouté. While it is an impressive sauce to add to meals, you don’t need to be a fancy chef to make bechamel – this recipe is easy to follow, and gives you a delicious sauce in about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

Béchamel sauce

Method

Béchamel sauce

1.

Melt butter in medium saucepan, add flour; cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles and thickens.

2.

Gradually add milk, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in nutmeg.

Béchamel is one of the “mother” or base sauces of classic French cooking and probably the one sauce that most people learn to cook before leaving home, often with the addition of cheese.

Note
Bechamel sauce adds a creamy deliciousness to lasagne.

What is the basic formula for béchamel sauce?

  • The essential ingredients for a bechamel or white sauce are plain flour, butter, milk and nutmeg. Some recipes also call for salt to season but you may want to taste it first if you’ve used salted butter.
  • It always starts with a roux; that’s an equal quantity flour to butter.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan on a medium heat, then stir in one tablespoon of flour.
  • Cook it very gently, until it just starts to colour (for about a minute). Remove the roux from the heat and gradually add one cup of milk, stirring between each addition. This will ensure a smooth sauce with no lumps.
  • Place back over medium heat; the sauce will soon start to thicken as the starch and water bind.
  • Keep stirring the sauce til it comes to the boil and thickens, then keep boiling for another three minutes.
  • Taste and season your sauce with a pinch of salt and pepper, before adding some flavouring: grated cheese, chopped herbs or ground spices.

Does béchamel taste like alfredo?

Alfredo and bechamel are similar in the sense that they are both considered creamy sauces. But bechamel (or white sauce) is typically lighter in texture and flavour as it’s made from butter, flour and milk, while alfredo is made with butter, cream and parmesan. While we’re on the subject of differences, it’s also good to know that alfredo sauce is a classic Italian sauce (rather than a French one).

If you’re ready to use your white sauce in a dinner recipe, check out these tasty tuna croquettes, classic beef lasagne or gooey gruyere souffle.

Our favourite though? Has to be good old macaroni cheese.

Related stories