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Basic White Sauce

Total Time

Prep/Total Time: 10 min.


1 cup

For years, I've used this smooth white sauce for pasta to make many dishes. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. —Lois Gelzer, Standish, Maine


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


  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes.

White Sauce Tips

How do I make a perfect white sauce?

Mastering this basic white sauce recipe, also known as bechamel, takes little time and puts a world of recipes at your fingertips. It's even one of the essential French "mother sauces" that you learn in cooking school! Whisking the butter and flour well while slowly adding the milk will result in a smooth, creamy sauce every time. If you end up a with a broken sauce, no worries! There are ways to fix a broken sauce in no time flat.

How is white sauce used?

You can use white sauce by drizzling it over asparagus, baked chicken or grilled fish. It's also the base for many other favorites like classic creamed spinach and biscuits and sausage gravy.

Can white sauce be made in advance?

Using the sauce immediately ensures optimal consistency for your recipe, but it can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days if needed. When ready to use, warm gently over low heat and whisk until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add warm milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time. Freezing is a good option if you have an abundance of sauce. Spoon sauce into a freezer-safe container, placing a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce; seal tightly and freeze for up to 6 months.

What can I add to white sauce to add flavor?

White sauce is a great, basic recipe that can be doctored up depending on what you’re cooking. To add extra flavor, saute finely chopped onion and/or garlic in the melted butter. Or, add in your favorite spices! Extra salt and pepper go a long way, but it really depends on what dish you’re making. Sage and thyme would be great additions to a white sauce served with butternut squash; while oregano and basil would complement a white sauce used in lasagna. Get creative! And learn more in our ultimate guide to pasta sauce.

Katie Bandurski, Taste of Home Associate Editor

Nutrition Facts

2 tablespoons: 51 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 12mg cholesterol, 81mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.