Béchamel (White) Sauce

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5 min


4 cups (1 L)

* PLUS Cooking time: 25 minutes


  • 4 cups homogenized milk
  • 1 small onion , finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper


  • In a large saucepan, combine milk with onion, bay leaf and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered and stirring often, to develop flavour, about 15 min. Then strain into a large bowl or measuring cup.
  • Rinse and wipe out saucepan, then set over medium heat. Add butter. When melted, whisk in flour. Whisk often until golden and very bubbly, about 2 min. Gradually whisk in hot milk, a little at a time, whisking out any lumps between additions. Simmer, uncovered, whisking often, until very thick, 8 to 10 min. Add salt and pepper to taste. If sauce is lumpy, strain again. It will keep well covered and refrigerated about 5 days, or freeze up to 3 months.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 106,
  • Protein
  • 2.5 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 6.5 g,
  • Fat
  • 7.8 g,
  • Fibre
  • 0.2 g,
  • Sodium
  • 31 mg.

Béchamel (BEH-sha-mel) is the secret behind the creamiest macaroni-and-cheeses and the base for many decadent pasta sauces. Use full-fat milk for best results.


Try our Big Night lasagna

Cheaters’ Chicken a la King

Saute sliced mixed mushrooms in butter. Add béchamel sauce and a splash of sherry. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add cubes of cooked chicken, chopped pimentos and sliced peppers. Great over rice.

Velvety Seafood Linguine

Sauté minced garlic in butter. Add a splash of vermouth or pastis (anise-flavoured liqueur) if you like, a pinch of saffron threads or nutmeg, and béchamel sauce. Whisk often until hot. Thin with a little milk or cream if necessary. A generous handful of grated Parmesan will enrich the taste. Toss with cooked linguine, shrimps and scallops.