Traditional English Parsley Sauce

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
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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.)

English parsley sauce sometimes gets a bad reputation, thanks to memories of thick, gloopy sauce served lukewarm. It's an old-fashioned sauce that's fallen out of favor with some, but it doesn't deserve to be relegated to the history books. Parsley sauce is a quick and easy sauce that can be extremely delicious.

This recipe only takes a handful of ingredients and about 20 minutes to throw together. Flavored with fresh, herbal parsley and mustard, creamy parsley sauce pairs perfectly with baked or pan-fried fish or baked ham. Other embellishments can be added, such as additional fresh herbs, lemon juice, or parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 25 grams/1 ounce butter
  • 25 grams/1 ounce all-purpose flour (approximately 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)
  • Optional: 1 1/2 teaspoons English mustard
  • 250 mL/1 cup milk
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (flat-leaf, 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 to form a thick paste.

    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. This will cook off the taste of raw flour in the finished sauce.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
    The Spruce 
  6. Gradually whisk in the milk.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  7. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking 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 fresh parsley and stir well. 

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  9. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, taste and add more as needed.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  10. Keep the sauce warm, on low heat, until needed. If keeping sauce warm for more than 15 minutes, laying a piece of buttered parchment paper on the surface will prevent a skin from forming. If a slight skin does form, whisk thoroughly over heat and it should disappear.

    English Parsley Sauce Recipe
     The Spruce
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

  • The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for a day or two and can be reheated. It's best served freshly made.
  • Freezing parsley sauce is not recommended since it will affect the creamy texture. Since it only takes a few minutes to make, it's best to whip up a batch fresh.
  • If the sauce is too thick, whisk in milk a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If the sauce is too thin, whisk a small amount of flour with a little water to create a slurry. Whisk into the parsley sauce over heat and cook until thickened.

Recipe Variations

  • Add finely chopped chervil or tarragon and a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This variation is great with fish.
  • If serving 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 serve over cooked vegetables au gratin.