How to Make Bechamel Sauce

Learn how to make bechamel from scratch—and soon you'll be saucing like a pro.

Even if you’ve never heard of bechamel sauce, chances are high that you’ve enjoyed it. From mac and cheese to chicken and dumplings, bechamel is the white sauce that is the base for many rich and creamy comfort foods.

With the humble combination of butter, flour and milk, this technique-based sauce is like watching magic as it comes together. And while it may feel intimidating for a beginner, if you follow these steps, you’ll be making restaurant-style sauces in no time.

What Is Bechamel?

white sauce in a clear gravy boatTMB studio

A bechamel sauce is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine. You start by making a roux, whisking butter and flour together over heat, then the milk or cream is slowly whisked in. The mixture thickens as it’s stirred and soon becomes thick enough for things like creamy gravy or a Lasagna with White Sauce.

How to Make Bechamel from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash white pepper
  • 1 cup 2% milk

Directions

Step 1: Make roux

top view of pot on a stove and hands staring the white sauce with a rubber spatulaTMB studio

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until it comes together and starts to form a sort of paste.

Step 2: Add milk

top view of hands pouring milk into a pan on a hot plate and stiringTMB studio

Gradually whisk in milk. Slowly bring to a boil while stirring constantly, about one to two minutes. Reduce to simmer and allow to continue to thicken for five more minutes. Use this sauce immediately to make bechamel lasagna!

Tips for Making Bechamel Sauce

  • For best results, use your bechamel sauce right away. If you do have to hold it, store it in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, warm on low and stir constantly as it loosens.

  • The trickiest part of making sauces is that they can break, which means they separate and curdle, looking rather unappetizing. But have no fear, follow these tricks and you can fix a broken sauce like a pro!

  • My personal preference is to use whole milk, because I like the creamiest option available. However, if you don’t have whole milk on hand, stick with the recipe and make a bechamel from 2%. For a lower-fat sauce, try non-fat milk.

  • You can easily double or triple this recipe if needed.

Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to writing and developing recipes for Taste of Home, she's the chef/owner of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal fare, providing takeaway all around Portland and running a soup group—like a CSA but for soup! Risa weaves her passion for local, sustainable and ethically sourced food into her writing. She lives with her wife, Jamie, their dogs, Cannoli and Reuben, their cat, Sylvia, and four chickens.