French Bechamel Sauce Recipe

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4.9 of 10 votes
Cook time: 10 minutes
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French Bechamel Sauce Recipe in a pot

I’ll give you all my tips so that you too can master this sauce, which is a classic of French gastronomy.

Being French, I make this sauce all the time. It is one of the classic French mother sauces and a key part of our repertoire! 

Explore more French recipes by trying out this quiche crust (so useful, too) or this easy Dijon mustard vinaigrette recipe. These are wonderful additions to your French culinary toolkit.

French Bechamel Sauce Recipe in a pot

What is a Bechamel Sauce?

A béchamel sauce is a classic French sauce. It is often referred to as a basic white sauce and is a fundamental element of French cuisine. 

This basic sauce combines a white roux, a mixture of equal parts butter and flour cooked together, with milk

This sauce is seasoned with salt and often includes spices like nutmeg or white pepper. The béchamel sauce is a versatile and creamy sauce used as a base for many dishes in French cuisine, including croque monsieur,  gratins, a lasagna recipe, and soufflés. 

List of Ingredients

To make a béchamel sauce, you only need 4 ingredients! I have a few tips and ideas for substitutions.

List of ingredients to make a béchamel
  • Milk: I love to use whole milk in my béchamel sauce.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter is perfect for your classic béchamel. Note: For the roux, the perfect ratio is 1:1 butter/flour, so 1 ounce each for about 1/4 liter milk.
  • Flour: Regular all-purpose flour is perfect. Note: replace it with half the amount of corn starch for a lighter, gluten-free alternative.
  • Nutmeg: Gives this simple recipe its distinctive taste. 

How to Make a Bechamel Sauce?

  • Make the roux. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously until well combined, forming a white roux. 
  • Turn it into a sauce. Start by adding two tablespoons of milk. Whisk until the milk is fully incorporated. Gradually pour in the remaining milk while whisking constantly to avoid a lumpy sauce. Cook the sauce for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and the perfect texture is achieved—season with sea salt, black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Reserve. If you use the béchamel later, cover it with plastic film to prevent it from becoming dry.
First step to make a béchamel, the roux
Béchamel roux
Add the milk little by little
Whisk continuously
Season the béchamel sauce

Useful Tips to the Perfect Bechamel Sauce

If you’re making béchamel sauce for the first time, I recommend you read these useful tips to ensure you get the perfect consistency.

  • Sift the flour: Sift the flour before adding it to the melted butter. The finer the flour, the less likely it is to form lumps. 
  • Cold milk: Take your milk directly out of the fridge, not at room temperature, as for most recipes. The colder the milk, the easier it will be for the base sauce to thicken.
  • Add the milk slowly: Always start by pouring in some milk. This is a great way to prevent lumps and get a smooth sauce. 
  • Whisk continuously: Once you add the milk, it’s important to whisk continuously with a whisk or a wooden spoon. 
  • Season at the end: I love to season my béchamel at the end of the cooking when it is already thick. 
  • Carefully measure ingredients: Use measuring cups or a kitchen scale to add the right amounts of flour, butter, and milk. This is key to achieving your desired consistency. 
  • Cook the roux thoroughly: You want to cook out the taste of raw flour in the roux, as much as possible, before adding milk. 
  • Adjust thickness: If your béchamel sauce is too thick, thin it out by adding more milk. If it’s too thin, continue cooking it over low heat while stirring until it reaches the desired consistency. I know my sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.
Béchamel sauce in a saucepan

Variations

  • Vegan béchamel: Replace butter with vegan butter, margarine, or olive oil with plant-based milk. I recommend soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk. 
  • Mornay sauce: To make a mornay sauce, add one cup of grated cheese and let cook on lower eat. Mornay sauce is the base of many gratin dishes such as mac and cheese.
  • Cream sauce: To make a cream sauce or sauce crème, add one cup of heavy cream to the bechamel to make a cream sauce. Add fresh herbs such as chives, and it’s a refreshing sauce to serve with vegetables and various dishes.
  • Soubise sauce: Add one cup of sauteed or caramelized onions to the béchamel and mix everything. Soubise sauce goes perfectly with grilled meat. 

FAQ: Bechamel sauce

How do I get rid of the lumps in my bechamel sauce?

You can strain them out with a sieve if you land up with lumps. The result might not be perfect, but it will certainly improve it.

Can bechamel sauce be refrigerated?

Yes, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. It should be packed in an airtight container with a sheet of plastic wrap layered over its surface. Keep the plastic close to the surface to prevent a thick skin from forming. 

Is bechamel sauce gluten-free?

Yes, you can make a gluten-free bechamel using cornstarch or a gluten-free all flour mix. If you use cornstarch, halve the quantity as it thickens more.

What to use bechamel sauce for?

The béchamel sauce can be used as a base for many dishes including gratins, a lasagna, soufflés or the famous French recipe for grilled cheese sandwich Croque Monsieur. It is also the base of others sauces such as Mornay, Soubise or cream sauce.

Can bechamel sauce be frozen?

Yes, it can be stored in the freezer in freezer-friendly containers for 2-3 months.

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Recipe Card: Bechamel Sauce

French Bechamel Sauce Recipe

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4.9 of 10 votes
Here is how to make the perfect French bechamel sauce recipe; creamy, silky, and delicious. It’s really simple to make once you’ve practiced a bit. 
Print Recipe
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side dish
Cuisine French
Servings 4
Calories 91 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/4 cup milk 300 ml
  • 1 tbsp butter 30 g
  • 3 tbsp flour 30 g
  • 1 pinch sea Salt
  • Nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk continuously until well combined, forming a white roux.
  • Start by adding a 2 tablespoons of milk and whisk until the milk is fully incorporated. Gradually pour in the remaining milk while whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Cook the sauce for about 5-7 minutes, stirring continuously, until it thickens. Season with sea salt and a pinch of nutmeg.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 91kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 61mgPotassium: 121mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 211IUCalcium: 95mgIron: 0.3mg
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