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Bechamel Sauce aka White Sauce

by jughandle

White Sauce or the French know it as Bechamel Sauce is the basis for dozens of common sauces used in a variety of dishes.  Once you know the basics you can improvise anything else that your heart desires on a moments notice. – jughandle

5 from 1 vote
Pin Recipe

Basic Bechamel Sauce aka White Sauce

Basic white sauce is just that. You can and should expand the sauce using the variations available.
Course Sauce
Cuisine French
Keywords Bechamel Sauce, White Sauce
Cooking Method Stove Top
Hot/Cold Dish Hot
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 Servings (1 cup)
Author jughandle

What You Will Need:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 dash black pepper - freshly ground
  • 1 cup whole milk - or half-and-half


Steps to Make It

  • Melt the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat.
  • Whisk the flour into the melted butter. You are making a roux.
  • Add the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cook over low heat, stirring, for at least 2 minutes to minimize the "raw flour" taste.
  • Slowly add 1 cup of milk or 1/2 and 1/2, stirring constantly.
  • Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.
  • There you have it. A very basic white sauce. To make it more interesting check out the variations.


The thickness of the white sauce depends on the dish you're making. Cream soups call for a thin white sauce; a medium one is typically used in casseroles, or in a gravy. Thick and heavy white sauces are generally found in soufflé and croquette batters.


Nutrition Facts
Basic Bechamel Sauce aka White Sauce
Amount Per Serving (0.25 C)
Calories 102 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 21mg7%
Sodium 222mg10%
Potassium 81mg2%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 275IU6%
Calcium 69mg7%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Light stock, cream, or a combination may be used in place of the milk (see the variations below).


  • Thin White Sauce:
    • Use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour.
  • Medium White Sauce:
    • Use 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour.
  • Standard White Sauce:
    • Add the milk to the medium white sauce recipe alongside 1 small onion studded with 3 cloves, a bay leaf, and a grating of nutmeg.
    • Add more flavor by seasoning with celery salt, nutmeg, a teaspoon of lemon juice, onion juice, or sherry, or a few tablespoons of chopped chives or parsley.
  • Heavy White Sauce:
    • Use 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour.
  • Cheese Sauce for Vegetables:
    •  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheese to the sauce as soon as you take it off the burner. Stir until the cheese has melted. Use this version in a casserole, drizzle it over vegetables, or toss it with pasta or rice.
  • Cheddar Sauce for Macaroni and Cheese
    • Double a recipe for medium white sauce; add 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard powder along with the salt and pepper. Add 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Cook 2 cups of elbow macaroni following the package directions; drain well and combine with the cheese sauce.
  • Velouté Sauce:
    • Instead of milk, this sauce is made with stock or broth. Use chicken, beef, fish stock, or use vegetable broth. Depending on the kind of stock or broth you use, this is a good sauce to serve with chicken, beef, fish, and seafood, or vegetables.
  • Cream Sauce: 
      • Add a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the sauce just before it’s done.
  • Herb Sauce:
    • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, chives, or dill to the sauce a few minutes before it is done. Or add about 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs.


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