How to Make a Béchamel Sauce

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How to Make a Bechamel Sauce from

Scalloped Potatoes drenched in Béchamel Sauce ready for the oven.


Cook 10 mins   Use 10 mins
What is a Béchamel Sauce and what is all the fuss about? It’s nothing more than an American White Sauce used most commonly to make Macaroni and Cheese.  Whether it’s Béchamel in French (one of the five mother sauces I learned in culinary school), Balsamella in Italian or an American white sauce, it’s all the same. Learn how easy it is to make this mother sauce in only 10 minutes. Then you can expand your cooking repertoire to include Macaroni and Cheese along with numerous delicious dishes.  Other favorites include Scalloped Potatoes (pictured above), Gratins, Moussaka, Pizza Bianca, numerous pasta dishes, creamed spinach, cheese sauces and the Lasagna Verdi alla Bolognese we made in our La Cucina Italiana cooking class.

Making a mother sauce sounds entirely difficult, but I promise this is so easy. After learning to make béchamel sauce, making your favorite Mac and Cheese will seem like child’s play.   Follow this step-by-step tutorial and you will have dinner on the table in a flash.

How to Make Bechamel Sauce by

Melt Butter and add flour to make a roux.

In a medium saucepan melt your butter on low and add the flour to make a roux.  The traditional Béchamel or white sauce uses equal amounts of butter and flour, and you can increase the amount of sauce needed by scaling up the amounts, if necessary.  However, different recipes may use a different ratio to make the sauce thicker or thinner.

How to make a Bechamel sauce by

A thick roux will give you a thicker sauce

This roux was made with more flour than butter.

How to make a Bechamel Sauce from

Cook roux thoroughly.

This roux was made with slightly more butter than flour.  The most important thing is that you cook the roux for a few minutes so that every spec of flour is coated with the butter.  Before you add the milk, the roux must be cooked evenly to prevent lumps from appearing in your final sauce.

How to make a Bechamel Sauce from

Béchamel Sauce is finished.

To complete your sauce in 10 minutes, you can heat the milk in a microwave until hot or if you are not in a hurry, you can add cold milk to your roux.  Simply whisk the milk rapidly into the roux until completely smooth on medium heat.  The sauce will begin to thicken right away if the milk was heated.  If you add cold milk, it will slowly begin to thicken. While you are whisking, use a rubber spatula, to run around the bottom edge of the pot every so often.  This will incorporate the thickened sauce that accumulates there. As it begins to thicken, lower the heat.  Continue to whisk just until a boil or until you see bubbles forming in the sauce. Then remove it immediately from the heat and continue to whisk for a minute.

How to Make a Bechamel Sauce from

Scalloped Potatoes drenched in Béchamel Sauce ready for the oven.

That’s it!  Your Béchamel sauce is ready to use in your recipes. To make the scalloped potatoes in the picture above, peel and thinly slice potatoes and then layer with the Béchamel sauce and salt and pepper between the layer of potatoes, finishing with the Béchamel sauce.  Cover with foil, place in a 375° oven for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and let brown for another 15 minutes.

I will be posting my Macaroni and Cheese recipe next week.  Here’s some other recipes to use your Béchamel sauce in.  So get started making Béchamel, Balsamella or White Sauce. It’s easy, it makes things delicious and it’s Fresh Food in a Flash.

Yam and Swiss Chard or Kale Gratin
Easy Lump-Free Gravy (uses roux-making technique)
Ham and Peas Bianca Pizza

Print Bechamel Sauce Recipe.

Bechamel Sauce

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 cup whole milk or 2%
1/4 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg

1. Melt butter on low in small saucepan.  Add flour and stir to coat.  The butter-flour mixture is a roux, so cook the roux for a few minutes until it is fragrant.

2. Add the milk to the pan and whisk together until the flour mixture melts into the milk. Turn heat up to medium until milk is hot and continue to whisk until the mixture is near boiling.  Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat down to a simmer.   Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan, so the flour does not scorch.

3. Once the sauce has thickened, add a pinch of nutmeg and remove it from the heat. Refrigerate until you are ready to use in your recipe. Can also be stored in freezer and thawed out when needed.

Yield: 1 cup    384 calories total

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