How to Make White Sauce
White sauce (also known by its French name,béchamel) is a simple but versatile sauce that's often one of the very first recipes taught to aspiring chefs. On its own, it's a fine addition to a variety of dishes like chicken and vegetables – but it's also the basis for many other more complex recipes like alfredo sauce and soufflés. Get started on your own creamy, delicious white sauce today with Step 1 below!
- Prep time: 5 minutes
- Cook time: 10 minutes
- Total time: 15 minutes
For Basic Béchamel White Sauce:
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Cup milk (optionally heated)
1/4 Teaspoon salt
Dash white pepper
For Alfredo Pasta Sauce:
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Garlic cloves (minced)
1 Cup heavy cream
1/4 Teaspoon white pepper
1/4 Cup cooking cream cheese
1/2 Cup parmesan cheese (grated)
1/4 Cup asiago cheese (grated)
Dry white wine
Basic Béchamel White Sauce
Melt butter (any type works).In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt your butter over low-to-medium heat on the stove. When the butter's fully melted, proceed immediately to the next step without allowing it to reduce any further.
Whisk in flour, salt and pepper.In a separate bowl, roughly combine flour, salt, and pepper. Whisk this mixture into the melted butter, combining until smooth and paste-like.
Cook until bubbly.Heat over medium heat until the mixture bubbles without letting it brown - about 1 minute. This is mixture of fat and flour is called a roux and can be used as a base or thickening ingredient in a variety of recipes including gumbo and other thick soups.
Heat milk (optional).It's not essential to heat your milk before adding it to your white sauce, but doing so can help ensure your end product is silky smooth. If you'd like to do this, heat your milk in a separate pan over low heat just until small bubbles form around the edges, then remove from heat.
Add milk slowly.Stir your milk into your roux mixture. For smoothness, it's best to add a little milk, stir until fully incorporated into the sauce, then repeat. If you add all the milk at once, it may not incorporate fully, leaving you with an uneven, lumpy sauce.
Whisk until smooth.When you've added all your milk, use a whisk to gently stir your sauce, making sure to break up any remaining solid portions. Stir until your sauce is even throughout.
Cook until thickened and smooth.All that's left to do is to cook your sauce until it reduces to your desired thickness and taste. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more, frequently stirring and sampling your sauce to ensure evenness. If needed, feel free to add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serves about 4.
- When cooled, this sauce can develop an unappetizing skin. To avoid this, cover it with wax paperorpour a thin layer of milk on top before putting it in the fridge.
Try customizing your sauce.One of the most useful properties of basic white sauces is that they're so easy to modify for a wide range of purposes. For instance, if you'd like to give your sauce an added "kick", try adding red pepper. You might also try grating cheddar cheese into your sauce for scrumptious cheesy flavor. Experiment - because its flavor is so neutral, most common ingredients complement a basic white sauce well.
- Case in point - the recipe in the next section modifies the basic white sauce with a few extra ingredients and the omission of flour to create a delicious Alfredo pasta sauce.
Alfredo Pasta Sauce
Melt butter with olive oil.Add your butter and olive oil to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over low-to-medium heat until the butter is fully melted but hasn't begun to smoke or brown.
Add garlic, cream, and pepper.Add your minced garlic and heavy cream to the saucepan and stir until well-mixed. Add pepper (to taste) and heat to a low simmer. Stir often.
Add cheeses.Add your cream cheese, parmesan, and asiago. Stir to incorporate, making sure that all cheeses have completely melted before proceeding.
- This step affords you a great deal of freedom - feel free to fine-tune your mixture of cheeses to find one that better suits your taste. Some chefs, for example, like to substitute mozzarella or add a dash of sharp white cheddar for added flavor.
Add wine to taste.Add just a dash of your dry white wine to your sauce, then stir to incorporate. After the wine has been absorbed, sample your sauce. Depending on how you like the flavor, you may want to add more wine to your sauce as you see fit. Keep in mind that adding a great deal of wine will give you a somewhat watery sauce, meaning you'll have to allow it to reduce for longer.
Reduce over low simmer.If it isn't still simmering, bring your sauce up to a low simmer, then allow it to gradually reduce, stirring frequently. Frequent stirring is essential - since it will be relatively thick, Alfredo sauce is susceptible to sticking and burning. You want your end product to be thick, creamy, and flavorful without being gummy or solid. When you've reached a good thickness, immediately remove your sauce from heat and serve with pasta. Serves 4-6.
QuestionHow can I make a simple pasta for kids?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you're using sauce, pick a simple one like marinara. If you want your kids to eat it, then buy the fun shaped mac and cheese boxes and just use the pasta, not the cheese. Boil it in water just as you would do with pasta, and boom! It will really get kids to want to eat it.Thanks!
QuestionShould I use salt with the milk when I am making white sauce, and if so, why?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAdding salt only adds to the sauce's flavor. It is optional.Thanks!
For the Alfredo sauce can I use milk instead of heavy whipping cream?
How do I add white wine to a basic white sauce for fish pie without it curdling?
What can I use if I do not have a whisk?
A replacement to wine?
To make basic béchamel white sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy-bottom pan over medium-low heat. Whisk 3 tablespoons of flour, ¼ tablespoon of salt, and a dash of pepper into the melted butter, and cook for 1 minute to make a roux. Gradually add 1 cup of milk to the roux, stirring as you pour to combine the ingredients. Cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken the béchamel sauce, and add additional ingredients such as cheese or red pepper to complement your dish.
- Add cheese to make a cheese sauce.
- Do not substitute black pepper with white pepper.
- Do not let the butter burn. This sauce is best made at an even temperature.
- Substitute wine with grape juice for a halal version of Alfredo sauce.
- In case it turns out lumpy, just sieve it.
- Heat the milk in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Whisk into the flour mixture.
- Double and use as needed.
- Have warm milk handy in an easy to hold jar or glass so its more comfortable to pour.
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