Traditional English Parsley Sauce Recipe

English Parsley Sauce Recipe
The Spruce
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
121 Calories
9g Fat
8g Carbs
3g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 4
Amount per serving
Calories 121
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Sodium 226mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 3g
Calcium 95mg 7%
*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.)

If your memories of English parsley sauce are school dinners as a child, then, like me, you may have long put the parsley sauce recipe well out of reach. Those memories involve a thick, gloopy sauce, often only lukewarm. The sauce, unsurprisingly, fell out of favor, and for the longest time have disappeared save a few packet sauces on the market.

What a shame, as parsley sauce is actually a really delicious, quick and simple sauce to make and will jazz up many a piece of fish, or baked ham. It is firmly back on my repertoire and I am happy to report, I am now seeing it regularly making a comeback in restaurants too.

Parsley is the classic herb in this dish but there are other tasty alternatives, see the notes below.


  • 25 g./1 oz. butter
  • 25 g./1 oz. flour (plain)
  • Optional: 1 1/2 tsp. English mustard
  • 250 mL/1 cup milk
  • 1 handful flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce 
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Stir in the flour and mustard if using.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Stir thoroughly and a thick paste will form but don't worry.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
    The Spruce 
  5. Cook gently for a further 2 to 3 minutes, watch the heat to ensure sure the paste does not burn. 

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
    The Spruce 
  6. Gradually stir in the milk. I prefer to use a whisk, as I find it easier, but a wooden spoon is fine.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  7. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure there are no lumps. The sauce should be quite thick but still a pouring consistency, if too thick add a little more milk.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  8. Add the parsley and stir well. 

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  9. Add a good pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, taste and add more to taste.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  10. Keep the sauce warm until needed. If you need to keep the sauce longer than about 15 minutes I recommend laying a piece of buttered greaseproof paper on the surface to prevent a skin forming. If a slight skin does form, whisk thoroughly and it should disappear.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  11. Serve with fish or ham and enjoy!


  • The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for a day or two, but no longer.
  • Freezing is not recommended.

Recipe Variations

  • Add finely chopped chervil or tarragon and a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, great with fish.
  • With boiled or baked ham, reserve some of the cooking liquor and make the sauce with half milk and half stock.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese and use over cooked vegetables au gratin.