Béchamel sauce

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Bechamel sauce)
Béchamel sauce
Alternative namesWhite sauce
Place of originFrance
Main ingredientsButter, flour, milk
VariationsMornay sauce, cardinal sauce, Nantua sauce, Breton sauce, suprême sauce, soubise sauce

Béchamel sauce (/ˌbʃəˈmɛl/, French: [beʃamɛl]) is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine.

This sauce is made from a white roux (butter and flour) and milk,[1] seasoned with ground nutmeg.[2]


Milk infusing with bay leaf, peppercorns, shallot and flat-leaf parsley prior to being added to the roux

The first recipe of a sauce similar to béchamel is in the book Le cuisinier françois by François Pierre de La Varenne in 1651, made with a roux, as in modern recipes.[3] The name of the sauce was given in honour of Louis de Béchameil, a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century.

The first named béchamel sauce appears in The Modern Cook, written by Vincent La Chapelle and published in 1733,[4] in which the following recipe for "Turbots (a la Bechameille)" appears:

Take some Parsley and Chibbol,[5] and mince them very small, put in a Saucepan a good lump of Butter, with your Parsley and Chibbol, and some minced Shallots, season'd with Salt and Pepper, some Nutmeg, and a dust of Flour: Take a Turbot boil'd in Court Bouillon, take it off by pieces and put it into your Stew-pan: put in a little Cream, Milk, or a little Water, put it over the Fire, and stir it now and then, that your Sauce may thicken; then let it be of a good Taste, dish it up, and serve it up hot for a first Course.[6]


There are many legends regarding the origin of béchamel sauce. For example, it was said to have been created in Tuscany under the name "salsa colla" and brought to France with Catherine de Medici, but this sauce was totally different from modern béchamel, and archival research has shown that "in the list of service people who had dealt with Catherine de Medici, since her arrival in France and until her death, there were absolutely no Italian chefs."[7] Both the béchamel recipe and its name have been adopted, even adapted, in many languages and culinary traditions.

Béchamel is referred to as:

  • besciamella in Italy,[8]
  • μπεσαμέλ (spelled mpesamél, pronounced besamél) in Greece,[9]
  • بشمل (bashamel) in Egypt,[10]
  • бешамель (biešamieĺ) in Russia,[11] and
  • beszamel in Poland,[12]

However, it is often just called "white sauce" in the U.S.[13]

These adaptations have also caused various erroneous claims for the recipe's origin.[14][15]


Béchamel can be used as the base for many other sauces, such as Mornay, which is béchamel with cheese.[16] In Greek cuisine, béchamel (σάλσα μπεσαμέλ) is often enriched with egg.[17]


Béchamel is used in dishes such as the Italian lasagne al forno[18] and canelons (Catalan; Castilian canelones), a Catalan version of Italian cannelloni.[19][20] Its use was introduced to Greek cuisine, notably for moussaka[21] and pastitsio,[22] by the chef Nikolaos Tselementes.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How to Make Bechamel Sauce". escoffieronline.com. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Sauce béchamel par Alain Ducasse". L'Académie du Goût (in French). Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  3. ^ La Varenne, François Pierre (1651). Le cuisinier françois , enseignant la manière de bien apprester et assaisonner toutes sortes de viandes... légumes,... par le sieur de La Varenne,... (in French).
  4. ^ Kurlansky, Mark (8 May 2018). Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 9781632863843.
  5. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary: chibol, n."
  6. ^ La Chappelle, Vincent (1733). The modern cook: containing instructions for preparing and ordering publick entertainments for the tables of princes, ambassadors, noblemen, and magistrates. As also the least expensive methods of providing for private families, in a very elegant manner. New receipts for dressing of meat, fowl, and fish; and making ragoûts fricassées, and pastry of all sorts, in a method, never before publish'd. Adorn'd with copperplates, exhibiting the order of placing the different dishes, &c. on the table, in the most polite way. London: T. Osborne. p. 138.
  7. ^ Antonella Campanini (18 December 2018). "The New Gastronome The Illusive Story Of Catherine de' Medici A Gastronomic Myth". Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  8. ^ Farideh Sadeghin (7 January 2008). "Besciamella (Italian-Style Béchamel Sauce)". saveur.com. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  9. ^ Nancy Gaifyllia (27 March 2020). "A Basic Greek Besamel (Bechamel)". thespruceeats.com. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  10. ^ McWilliams, Mark (2016). Food and Communication: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2015. Oxford Symposium. p. 15. ISBN 9781909248496.
  11. ^ Molokhovets, Elena (1998). Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' A Gift to Young Housewives. Indiana University Press. p. 265. ISBN 9780253212108.
  12. ^ Strybel, Robert and Maria (2005). Polish Heritage Cookery. Hippocrene Books. p. 519. ISBN 9780781811248.
  13. ^ Durand, Faith (2010-11-10). "How To Make a Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce)". Kitchn. AT Media. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  14. ^ Tselementes, Nicholas (1972). Greek Cookery. D.C.: Divry. ISBN 9780900834745.
  15. ^ "History and legends of Béchamel sauce". What's cooking America. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  16. ^ Delmy Dauenhauer, 10 Ways to Use Béchamel Sauce, London : SamEnrico, 2015, ISBN 9781505738384.
  17. ^ Tselementes, Nikolaos K. (1950). Greek Cookery. D.C. Divry. p. 92.
  18. ^ Jacqui Debono (27 February 2018). "Classic Lasagne al Forno with Bolognese". the-pasta-project.com. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Canelones de San Esteban". littlespain.com. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  20. ^ "Cultura popular – Canelons". barcelona.cat. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  21. ^ Eli K. Giannopoulos (14 May 2013). "Traditional Greek Moussaka recipe (Moussaka with Béchamel)". mygreekdish.com. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  22. ^ Mannering, Sam (21 August 2022). "You should make pastitsio - a kind of Greek lasagne - tonight". Stuff. Retrieved 14 September 2022. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top of the beef, followed by the rest of the pasta, pressing it slightly into the bechamel
  23. ^ Aglaia Kremezi (1996), "Nikolas Tselementes" in Walker, Harlan (Ed.) Cooks and Other People, (Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 1995). Totnes: Prospect Books. ISBN 0907325726. pp 162–169 Text at Google Books

External links[edit]