Béchamel sauce

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"White sauce" redirects here. For the sauce used on Fettuccine Alfredo, see Alfredo sauce. For the condiment associated with American halal street carts, see The Halal Guys.
Béchamel sauce
Béchamel sauce.jpg
Milk infusing with bay leaf, peppercorns, shallot, and flat-leaf parsley prior to being added to the roux.
Alternative names White sauce
Type butter
Place of origin Italy
Main ingredients butter, flour, milk, nutmeg
Variations Mornay sauce
Cookbook: Béchamel sauce  Media: Béchamel sauce

Béchamel sauce (/bɛʃəˈmɛl/ or /bʃəˈmɛl/;[1] French: Béchamel [beʃaˈmɛl]), also known as white sauce, is made from a white roux (butter and flour) and milk. Even though it first appeared in Italian cooking books (constituting one of the simplest sauces of the Italian cuisine), it is now considered one of the mother sauces of French cuisine.[2] It is used as the base for other sauces (such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese).[3]


Béchamel was a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to King Louis XIV. The sauce first appeared in some Italian cooking books of the Renaissance, but was introduced under its familiar name in Le Cuisinier François, published in 1651 by François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678), chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles. The foundation of French cuisine, the Cuisinier François ran through some thirty editions in seventy-five years.

The sauce originally was a veal velouté with a large amount of cream added.[4]

Saulnier's Répertoire presents one recipe as: "White roux moistened with milk, salt, onion stuck with clove, cook for 20 minutes."[5]


Béchamel is traditionally made by melting a quantity of butter, and adding an equal part of flour to make a roux, which is cooked under gentle heat while stirring with a whisk. As it is a white sauce, care must be taken not to brown the roux. Then heated milk is gradually whisked in, and the sauce is cooked until thickened and smooth. The proportion of roux and milk determines the thickness of the sauce, typically one to three tablespoons each of flour and butter per cup of milk.[6]

One tablespoon each of butter and flour per cup of milk makes a thin, easily pourable sauce. Two tablespoons of each makes a medium thick sauce. Three tablespoons of each makes an extra thick sauce, such as used to fill croquettes or as a soufflé base. Salt and white pepper are added and it is customary in Italy to add a pinch of nutmeg.[7] Optionally a whole or cut onion, studded with one or more whole cloves, and a bay leaf may be simmered with the milk and then strained before adding to the roux.



Mushroom béchamel sauce.

Béchamel sauce is the base for a number of other classic sauces with additional ingredients added including:

The term "white sauce" or sauce blanche may also be applied to a simple sauce consisting only of milk and melted butter, without flour or spices.[8]


Dishes made with béchamel sauce include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Béchamel definition". Merriam-Webster. 
  2. ^ Michael Ruhlman, The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen, New York : Scribner, 2007, p. 171.
  3. ^ Delmy Dauenhauer, 10 Ways to Use Béchamel Sauce, London : SamEnrico, 2015, ISBN 9781505738384.
  4. ^ Larousse Gastronomique.
  5. ^ Saulnier, Louis (1914). Le Répertoire de la Cuisine. Translated by Édouard Brunet. Leon Jaeggi & Sons. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  6. ^ How to Make Easy Béchamel Sauce Recipe Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  7. ^ How to Make Easy Béchamel Sauce Recipe Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  8. ^ "French Cooking Sauces". Retrieved 15 November 2013. 

External links[edit]