Béchamel sauce is a classic French white sauce that’s so flavorful and simple to make—perfect in lasagna, casseroles, and croque monsieurs.
Béchamel sauce is one of the French mother sauces. This decadent white cream sauce is made from butter and flour that’s cooked into a roux, with milk added to thicken it into a lush, silky cream sauce. It’s so simple to make and I use it in a variety of dishes, like my tuna noodle casserole, vegetable lasagna, and broccoli casserole.
When making this sauce, the basic rule of thumb is to use equal parts butter and flour. It’s also crucial to cook the flour and butter together for a few minutes before adding the milk to lose the floury taste. Whole or 2% milk fat works best in this sauce. It’s plenty rich, so there’s no need to use half and half or cream. To avoid clumps, make sure the milk is very cold, whisking swiftly as you add it to the roux. It really is the perfect bechamel sauce.
What’s In Béchamel Sauce
- All-purpose flour
- Bay leaves
- Cold milk, whole or 2% milk fat
- Kosher salt
PRO TIP: If you want to add even more flavor to your sauce, shallots are a tasty addition. If adding, mince ¼ cup of shallot and add to the butter with the flour to cook together before adding the milk.
How to Make Béchamel Sauce
This béchamel comes together quickly and easily, in just 15 or 20 minutes. Here’s how to make it:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat.
Cook the flour. Add the flour and whisk until smooth combined. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes golden and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
This is my favorite whisk for making sauces because it has silicone balls on the end so it gets into the fold of the pan and won’t scratch.
Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaves and gradually pour in the cold milk all at once, while whisking, then bring to a simmer.
Cook until the sauce is thick. Whisk continuously while simmering gently (this helps eliminate any lumps), until the sauce thickens for about 10-15 minutes. Season with kosher salt, adding more to taste. The thickness of the sauce should fall somewhere between an alfredo sauce and pudding.
Note: Béchamel will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Is Béchamel Sauce the Same as Alfredo
While somewhat similar, these two sauces are not the same. Béchamel traditionally does not have garlic or cheese, and alfredo sauce does not have flour.
What Does Béchamel Taste Like
Béchamel sauce is rich and thick, with a pronounced butter, cream, and nutmeg flavor. The bay leaf and shallots also lend more savory and fragrant notes.
What is Béchamel Sauce Used For
- Croque Monsieur
- Turkey Tetrazzini Recipe
- The BEST Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Broccoli Casserole with Crispy Onions
- Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushrooms
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How to Make Béchamel Sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 ½ cups cold milk , whole or 2% milk
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir together until combined. Continue stirring until the mixture becomes golden and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the bay leaves and gradually pour in the cold milk all at once, while whisking, then bring to a simmer. Bring to a simmer and whisk continuously until the sauce thickens, cooking for about 10-15 minutes. Season with the nutmeg and kosher salt, adding more to taste. Discard the bay leaves before using. The thickness of the sauce should fall between an alfredo sauce and pudding.
More Stellar Sauce Recipes to Master
- Alfredo Sauce
- Homemade Tartar Sauce
- Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce
- Blender Hollandaise Sauce
- How to Make the BEST Chimichurri Sauce
- The BEST Quick and Easy Authentic Enchilada Sauce
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