Classic Mornay Sauce

Classic mornay sauce

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 3/4 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
186 Calories
13g Fat
10g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 186
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 264mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 239mg 18%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 152mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(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 simply 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, the ingredients and directions for this Mornay sauce may look familiar to you, as a béchamel with cheese added is often the recipe for the cheese sauce in homemade mac and cheese. Thus, it is an ideal accompaniment to pasta as well as steamed vegetables such as spinach in the Florentine style. You may also like it spooned over chicken or fish. 


Click Play to See This Delicious Classic Mornay Sauce Come Together

"This classic cheesy sauce is a good alternate option for mac and cheese. I noticed that the roux balled up with just the 2 tablespoons of butter so I would recommend adding another tablespoon. Also, it was a bit grainy from the grated Parmesan. Next time I’d try shredded Parmesan instead." —Victoria Heydt

Classic Mornay Sauce Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 4 tablespoons butter (not margarine or a blend), divided

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups whole milk, warm but not hot, divided

  • 2 to 3 whole cloves

  • 1/4 medium onion, peeled

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese

  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather your ingredients.

    Ingredients for mornay sauce
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck 
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Stir in the flour to form a roux. Cook 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. 

    Stir in flour
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. 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.

    Add warm milk
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Stick the cloves into the onion and add to the sauce along with the bay leaf. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it's reduced by about 20 percent.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. 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 cloves.

    Remove bay leaf
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Return the sauce to the pan. Add the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted.

    Return sauce to pan
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  8. 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 with pasta, chicken, or fish. Enjoy!

    Mornay sauce
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Can You Make Mornay Sauce in Advance?

While it's true that Mornay is best used right after it's made, you can make it the night before, through step 6. Keep it covered in the fridge and then when you're ready to finish it, heat it through on the stovetop over medium-low heat and add the cheeses and continue the recipe as directed.

Recipe Variations

  • In classical cuisine, there are variations on the Mornay sauce where instead of making it with a béchamel base, it is made with chicken or fish stock. This turns it into a variation on the velouté sauce instead, which is an especially good sauce with chicken or fish; some might find standard Mornay sauce a bit rich for seafood.

How to Store and Freeze Mornay Sauce

Mornay can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days and will freeze as well for up to 3 months.

When you reheat this on the stovetop, do so over low heat. It may appear grainy or separated; simply whisk to combine the ingredients. If it's too thick, add a little milk or stock to thin it out if necessary. When it looks thick and glossy, it's ready to use.