Béchamel Sauce RecipeBéchamel is a standard white sauce and one of the five mother sauces of classical cuisine. It's the starting point for other classic sauces such as the Crème sauce and the Mornay sauce.
Béchamel is a simple, versatile sauce that you'll find yourself making again and again.
Also see these 7 Béchamel Sauce Variations.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
- 5 cups whole milk
- 6 Tbsp clarified butter (or ¾ stick unsalted butter)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ onion, peeled
- 1 whole clove
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground white pepper, to taste
- Pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it boil.
- Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the clarified butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy. Don't let it turn brown, though — that'll affect the flavor.
- With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-colored paste. This paste is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.
- Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it's free of lumps.
- Now stick the pointy end of the clove into the onion and drop them into the sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn't scorch at the bottom of the pan.
- The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it's too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it's just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
- Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be particularly careful with the white pepper — and the nutmeg, if you're using it. A little bit goes a long way! Keep the béchamel covered until you're ready to use it.