Easy Cream Sauce

Cream sauce in a pot with a wooden spoon

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
134 Calories
9g Fat
10g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 134
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Sodium 212mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 2g
Calcium 66mg 5%
*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.)

A luxurious cream sauce can turn an ordinary dish into something special. This cream sauce recipe is similar to a typical white sauce or béchamel but is richer in taste. It is also versatile—add a bit of elegance with a few tablespoons of chardonnay or other dry white wine, or sprinkle in some Parmesan cheese to give the sauce a little zing. Other types of cheese, as well as a variety of herbs, may also be used to bring this sauce recipe up a notch, or to tailor the flavor to whatever you want to serve with it.

Whether basic or with additional ingredients, this is a fabulous sauce to serve over chicken, shrimp, or fish fillets, and it takes just minutes to fix. You can also use it as the base for a rich and creamy macaroni and cheese by adding a few cups of shredded cheese. It's an excellent sauce to use as a binder in casseroles, too.

1:10

Click Play to See This Basic Cream Sauce Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons ​all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pinch kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 pinch white pepper or black pepper (or to taste)
  • Optional: 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cream sauce ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Keep warm.

    Cook milk in saucepan
    The Spruce
  3. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan over medium-low heat.

    Heat butter in a separate saucepan
    The Spruce
  4. Add the flour and stir until mixture is well blended to make a roux. Continue cooking, stirring, for 2 minutes. Make sure it does not turn brown.

    Add flour to mixture melted butter
    The Spruce
  5. Gradually stir the hot milk into the flour and butter mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to boil and thickens. Simmer, frequently stirring, over very low heat for 5 minutes.

    Milk is added to flour and butter mixture
    The Spruce
  6. Stir in the cream and wine, if using. Season with salt and pepper and add a little nutmeg if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy.

    Finished easy cream sauce in sauce boat for serving
    The Spruce

How to Use Easy Cream Sauce

Serve this sauce with basic poached chicken, with turkey, or swap out the beurre blanc in a baked cod dish for the cream sauce.

Tips

  • The white pepper is used just to keep the sauce white. If you prefer the flavor of black pepper, feel free to use freshly ground black pepper.
  • It is important that you keep an eye on the temperature while cooking and continue to stir so that the butter-flour mixture doesn't burn.

Recipe Variations

  • Garlic Cream Sauce: Sauté 1 clove of pressed or minced garlic in the butter for a minute before adding the flour and proceed with the recipe.
  • Shallot Cream Sauce: Sauté 1 tablespoon of minced shallots in the butter until translucent. Add the flour and continue with the recipe. For onion flavor without the texture, add a slice of onion to the milk when heating. Remove the onion slice before you add the hot milk to the roux.
  • Herb Cream Sauce: Add 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped herbs or about 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs at the end. 
  • Cheesy Cream Sauce: Add 1/4 cup each of Parmesan cheese and shredded Gruyère along with the salt and pepper. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
  • Gouda Cream Sauce: Add 1 cup of shredded smoked Gouda cheese (4 ounces) and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika to the sauce along with the salt and pepper. Simmer until the cheese has melted. Use it in macaroni and cheese, over poached eggs, or with steamed vegetables.
  • For a low-fat version, try this white sauce without butter.