Basic White Sauce Recipe

Basic White Sauce (Bechamel)
Basic White Sauce. Philippe Desnerck/Photolibrary/Getty
  • 14 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 4 mins
  • Yield: 1 Cup (6 Servings)
Ratings (61)

This basic white sauce, or Bechamel,  is a good base for a casserole, gravy, or cheese sauce, and it is an excellent sauce to gussy up plain steamed or boiled vegetables.

Lighten the sauce by using half chicken stock or vegetable stock or make it richer with half-and-half or about 1/2 cup of cream with the milk.

What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste (or white pepper)

How to Make It

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; stir in flour. Whisk constantly and cook for about 2 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Gradually stir in milk and continue cooking over low heat, constantly stirring, until sauce begins to thicken. Cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. For a richer sauce, add a few tablespoons of heavy cream.


  • Cheddar Sauce - Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground mustard along with the flour and when the sauce has thickened, add about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Serve over vegetables or poached eggs.
  • Dill Sauce for Fish - Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh dill and a dash of grated or ground nutmeg along with the flour.
  • Mustard Sauce for Ham, Vegetables, or Beef - Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (or a similar mustard) to the sauce just before serving.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 157
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 5 g
Unsaturated Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 22 mg
Sodium 330 mg
Carbohydrates 15 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 4 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)