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    Bechamel Sauce Recipe

    Published January 23, 2020. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    Learn how to make a classic bechamel sauce that is incredibly simple to prepare and excellent for sauces and pasta dishes.

    This is one of the most foundational sauce recipes throughout all cooking.  It’s very basic in nature but it has such awesome flavor when made correctly.  Whether using is a classic Lasagna Bolognese Recipe or a Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich, you are going to love it.

    small size pot of white bechamel sauce with cloves and nutmeg

    What Is Bechamel

    It’s a simple white sauce consisting of roux, milk, and a few other ingredients, and is one of the 5 mother sauces in French cuisine.  From this sauce, you can make Mornay, Nantua, and soubise among others.

    Is It the Same as Alfredo Sauce

    A classic alfredo sauce is actually made with butter and parmesan, but most folks think it’s simply reduced heavy whipping cream until it becomes thick.  So in the end, no bechamel is not the same as alfredo.

    Bechamel Ingredients

    I’m a huge French food fan as it’s the basis for most of my cooking.  Whether it’s making an Onion Soup or an apple tart, once you understand basic French cooking techniques, you can make anything.

    Here are a few simple ingredients:

    • Roux
    • Whole Milk
    • Onion
    • Bay Leaf
    • Clove
    • Nutmeg
    • Salt and Pepper

    Most of these items you probably already have on hand in your pantry or refrigerator making it even easier to make!

    How to Make It

    I can’t say it enough, this is incredibly easy to make, just follow these steps:

    Start by scalding the milk over low heat n a medium-size pot and then simply whisk in your roux.

    scaling milk in a pot and adding in roux

    Whisk in the roux until it is completely smooth and mixed in and bring to a boil to thicken.  It should coat the back of a spoon with ease and if you run your finger through the sauce, the top part of the sauce should not creep through the part where you ran your finger.  This consistency is called nappe.

    whisking a white sauce and coating a spoon for nappe

    Cut a slit into a ¼ of an onion and jam a bay leaf, then simply press a clove into the onion as well.

    adding a bay leaf to an onion

    Place the onion into the sauce and cook for 15 minutes to infuse the flavor then add in some freshly grated nutmeg or already pre-ground.

    adding onion and fresh nutmeg to the white sauce

    Season with sea salt and ground white pepper, mix in and then strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

    seasoning the white sauce and straining it

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: You can make this sauce up to 2 days ahead of time.

    How to Store: Keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  Do not freeze the sauce as it will break when thawing it.

    How to Reheat: Simply place your desired amount into a small saucepan and whisk over low heat until thick.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef notes + tips

    • You’ll know it’s scalded if you tilt the pan back to yourself and see bubbles clinging to the bottom of the pan but not sticking to it.
    • If the sauce gets too thick when making it or reheating it, simply add a 1/4 cup of hot milk at a time until it is to a thinner consistency.
    • You must wait for the sauce to boil after mixing it in the roux for it to thicken, other wise it will remain on the thinner side.
    bechamel sauce in a pot with herbs and spices

    What to Use It In

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    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Bechamel Sauce Recipe

    Learn how to make a classic bechamel sauce that is incredibly simple to prepare and excellent for sauces and pasta dishes.
    Servings: 1 Batch
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 1 quart of whole milk
    • 1 roux recipe
    • ¼ peeled onion
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 clove
    • Pinch of ground nutmeg
    • Sea salt and ground white pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the milk to a medium-size saucepot over low heat until it scalds, see note.
    • Whisk in the roux until it is completely mixed in and smooth and bring just to a boil to thicken and then turn the heat back down to low.
    • Next, make a 1” slit into the top of the onion and push the bay leaf into the slice and press the clove into the onion as well and then place the entire thing right into the bechamel sauce and cook for 15 minutes to infuse the flavor.
    • Add in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix in with a spoon.
    • Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer like a chinois or through some cheesecloth in a regular strainer. The sauce should be silky smooth.
    • Serve.

    Notes

    Chef Notes:
    • Make Ahead: You can make this sauce up to 2 days ahead of time.
    • How To Store: Keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Do not freeze the sauce as it will break when thawing it.
    • How to Reheat: Simply place your desired amount into a small sauce pan and whisk over low heat until thick.
    • You’ll know it’s scalded if you tilt the pan back to yourself and see bubbles clinging to the bottom of the pan but not sticking to it.
    • If the sauce gets too thick when making it or reheating it, simply add a ¼ cup of hot milk at a time until it is to a thinner consistency.
    • You must wait for the sauce to boil after mixing in the roux for it to thicken, other wide it will remain on the thinner side

    Nutrition

    Calories: 589kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 30gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 409mgPotassium: 1289mgFiber: 1gSugar: 49gVitamin A: 1533IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 1069mgIron: 1mg
    Course: sauce
    Cuisine: French