Classic Mornay Sauce Recipe

Classic Mornay sauce

The Spruce


Ratings (55)
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings mornay sauce
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
198 Calories
13g Fat
13g Carbs
9g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Mornay Sauce is a classic béchamel sauce (one of the five French mother sauces) enriched with Gruyère cheese and sometimes Parmesan. It's an ideal accompaniment for eggs—a French classic, eggs Mornay, is a variation on eggs Benedict made with Mornay sauce in place of the usual hollandaise.

If you have made macaroni and cheese from scratch before, these ingredients and directions may look familiar to you, as a bechamel with cheese added is often the recipe for the cheese sauce in homemade mac-n-cheese. Thus, it is an ideal accompaniment to pasta as well as steamed vegetables. You may also like it spooned over chicken or fish. 


  • 3 tablespoons butter (not margarine or a blend), divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk (warm but not hot), divided
  • 2 to 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 onion (peeled)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat.

Then stir in the flour to form a roux. Cook the roux for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently until most of the water has cooked out (it will bubble less), which also allows the raw flour taste to cook off. 

Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of the warm milk while whisking or stirring constantly so that the liquid is incorporated into the roux without forming lumps.

Stick the cloves into the onion and add to the sauce along with the bay leaf. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it's reduced by about 20 percent.

Remove the bay leaf and the onion and strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth. Make sure you retrieve all of the whole cloves.

Return the sauce to the pan. Add the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted.

Remove from heat, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and adjust the consistency with some or all of the remaining 1/2 cup milk if necessary. Serve right away.

Mornay Sauce Variations

In classical cuisine, there are variations on the Mornay sauce where instead of making it with a béchamel base as done here, it is made with chicken or fish stock—turning it into a variation on the velouté sauce instead. This makes sense if you're serving the finished sauce with chicken or fish as some might find the standard Mornay sauce to be a bit rich for seafood. However, there is a recipe for lobster Mornay so it is definitely a matter of taste.

Feel free to serve this basic Mornay sauce with chicken and fish but do experiment with the chicken and/or fish velouté versions if you like. You might find that the lighter velouté version works better in some situations.