How to make bechamel sauce - an easy and foolproof recipe
One of the classic French/Italian sauces, that every home cook should know how to cook!
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 cups
- 4 tablespoons butter 2 oz/60g
- 4 tablespoons flour 1.4 oz/40g
- 2 cups whole milk 480-500ml
- big pinch of nutmeg optional
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice optional
- salt and black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a big frying pan or a wide pot. When it's bubbling add the flour.
Mix the butter and flour with a wooden spoon until they form a thick paste. Cook, stirring, for about a minute over low heat. Don't let the paste brown (it should be yellow in color).
Add about 1/3 cup of milk and whisk vigorously until the milk has been completely absorbed by the flour-butter paste.
Keep adding the remaining milk, in 1/3-1/2 cup amounts. Whisk thoroughly after each addition and wait until the milk is combined with the sauce. Mix vigorously especially at the beginning, to make sure that no lumps form.
Cook the sauce for 2-5 minutes on the lowest heat until thickened. Keep in mind that the sauce will still thicken after taking the pot off the heat.
Remove the pot from the heat. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon juice (if using). Use immediately.
- If you're more advanced you can add the milk, all at once, in a thin stream to the butter-flour paste and whisk until a smooth sauce is created. Cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.
- Cook the sauce over low heat.
- If you're a beginner or have had troubles with bechamel sauce, sieve the flour before adding it and warm up the milk (should be very warm, but not boiling).
- Pepper - if you don't want black specks of black pepper in your sauce, use white pepper. Just remember that it's more powerful than black pepper so just use less.
- Nutmeg and lemon juice are optional.
- other ingredients you can use: you can infuse the sauce (or just milk) with 1/4 of an onion, 1 clove, and 1 bay leaf, you can warm up the milk with these spices and add warm spiced milk to the roux.
- Storage: The sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated. You need to cover the sauce with a plastic foil, the foil should touch the surface of the sauce to prevent the forming of a skin. I personally don't like to place a plastic foil over a hot sauce (health reasons) so a usually just leave the sauce to cool slightly, then stir it thoroughly with a whisk and then cover with plastic foil and refrigerate.
- How to reheat bechamel sauce: The cooled sauce will be very thick and resemble a pudding. If you want to reheat it, warm it up slowly over low heat and add some milk to dilute it. Whisk vigorously to make the sauce smooth. It's possible that it won't as smooth as freshly made so I wouldn't serve it as one of the most important ingredients of a dish (like a sauce for fish or asparagus), but if you want to incorporate it into another dish, for example, make a cheese sauce or a lasagna, this won't be a problem.
- What to do if something goes wrong:
- The sauce is clumpy: Use a hand blender or regular blender to puree the sauce or push it through a fine-mesh strainer.
- If the sauce is too thick: add some milk and whisk vigorously to combine.
- If the sauce is too thin: simmer it down - the sauce will thicken quickly or cook a little more flour and butter in a small saucepan on the side, then whisk it into your sauce. Just remember that any bechamel will thicken very quickly after you take the pot off the heat. It always needs to be thinner than you plan to, because it will thicken.