29 Aug How to make a Béchamel Sauce

Cooking Tips

How to make a Béchamel Sauce

29 August 2020

PREP. TIME: 0 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 40 MIN   -   YIELD: 500ml

Here is the basic recipe for a white sauce - in French, and often Italian cooking it is called a Béchamel Sauce.  It is the secret binding sauce of many recipes and one of the essential components of Lasagne.

Left over béchamel can be used in numerous ways.  Add it to blanched vegetables and bake them into a small gratin.  Stir into a mixture for meat loaf or meatballs for a tender result.

Flavourings often include  some grated cheese, Cayenne Pepper and or Nutmeg.  See the variations below.

To reheat - place over low heat, stirring constantly, adding a few tablespoons of milk or water if too thick. 

Recipe Template


  • Using heated milk will reduce the chance of lumps forming
  • The sauce can be stored covered with a film of plastic in a screw top jar in the            refrigerator for several days.  
  • Reheat gently over moderate heat.


3 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoons Flour

2 Cups Milk



Measuring Cups and Spoons

2 medium size saucepans

Wooden Spoon



Step 1

Warm the milk over moderate heat in one of the saucepans.

Step 2

While the milk is warming, melt the butter in the second saucepan.

Once the butter begins to foam, stir in the flour with a wooden spoon

Continue to cook the flour over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring all of the time. 

Do not let the mixture darken in colour

Step 3

Add about 1/3 of the milk to the mixture of flour and butter, stirring all of the time.

As the milk is integrated into the mixture add a little more.

Keep adding the milk in this way, until all of the milk has been added and you have created a creamy sauce, that coats the back of the wooden spoon.

If the mixture becomes lumpy, once you have added all of the milk you can try whisking it to make it smooth, alternatively, push it through a wire strainer into a clean saucepan, gently return to the boil, stirring all of the time.

Step 4

Once the sauce is smooth and has thickened, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking.

If you are using any cheese or spices - add them at this time.

Check the seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary.

If the sauce is too thick - add a little more liquid.

Step 5

Check the salt and pepper again and add if needed.

Use straight away or keep warm until ready to use.


For other recipes add as specified at Step 4.

  • Pinch Nutmeg
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


You can achieve a lighter Béchamel Sauce by making it with Meat, Chicken or Vegetable stock, with or without a little milk.  This is particularly good for most Vegetable Gratin.


Recipe by Waters, Alice; The Art of Simple Food - Sauces

Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey

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