Classic Mornay Sauce

Classic mornay sauce in a small pitcher and over salmon

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Yield: 3 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
149 Calories
10g Fat
8g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 149
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 211mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 191mg 15%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 122mg 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 in a glass bowl
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 classic mornay sauce recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 

  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat.

    Melted butter in a saucepan over a burner

    The Spruce Eats / 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. 

    Flour stirred into butter with a wooden spoon to form a roux for mornay sauce

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Warm milk added and whisked into the roux for mornay sauce

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Clove-studded onion and a bay leaf being added to pot of mornay sauce

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Bay leaf and clove-studded onion quarter removed and alongside mornay sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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

    Mornay sauce with wooden spoon returned to pot

    The Spruce Eats / 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 with final butter stirred in with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

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.

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.