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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 essential in nature but has incredible flavor when made correctly. Whether using a classic Lasagna Bolognese Recipe or a Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich, you will love it.
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 made with butter and parmesan, but most folks think it’s reduced heavy whipping cream until it becomes thick. So, in the end, no bechamel is not the same as alfredo.
Here are a few simple ingredients:
- Whole Milk
- Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper
Most of these items you probably already have on hand in your pantry or refrigerator, making them even easier to make!
How to Make Bechamel
Start by scalding the milk over low heat n a medium-sized pot, and then whisk in your 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 easily, 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 a nappe.
Cut a slit into ¼ of an onion and jam a bay leaf, then press a clove into the 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.
Season with sea salt and ground white pepper, mix in, and then strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
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: Place your desired amount into a small saucepan and whisk over low heat until thick.
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, add a 1/4 cup of hot milk until it is to a thinner consistency.
- You must wait for the sauce to boil after mixing it in the roux to thicken. Otherwise, it will remain on the thinner side.
What to Use It In
- Buttermilk Biscuits with. Sausage Gravy
- Potatoes Au Gratin
- Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin
- Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
- Croque Monsieur
Bechamel Sauce Recipe
- 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
- Add the milk to a medium-size saucepot over low heat until it scalds. See notes.
- 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 with a spoon.
- Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer like a chinois or some cheesecloth in a regular strainer. The sauce should be silky smooth.