If you enjoy French cuisine, you may have noticed that the béchamel sauce is the foundation for many classic French dishes that we love today. A classic white sauce, the béchamel is a thickened with milk, butter, flour, and at times, herb seasonings.
As one of the 5 classic French mother sauces, it is used in many different dishes. It’s an essential element of many gratins and casseroles, and you’ll also find it finished with a variety white meats and vegetables.
It was invented based on an older cream-based by François Pierre de La Varenne, a chef de cuisine of the Marquis d’Uxelles, in the 17th century. The chef dedicated it to a guest named Louis Béchameil, Marquis de Nointel, as was the custom of flattering nobility at the time.
Making your own French bechamel sauce doesn’t have to be difficult. I know it sounds fancy and all, but the béchamel is actually very simple to make at home, and tastes better than store-bought variety that has artificial preservatives added to it.
The sauce is made from a roux (butter and flour blended together) and milk. I promise you after you try this homemade béchamel sauce recipe, you’ll never go back to the ready-made stuff again. So allons-y!
Mother Sauce, White Sauce, and Other Sauces
Béchamel sauce is sometimes called White Sauce in English cookbooks. Both are made from all-purpose flour, butter, and milk. As a mother sauce, béchamel has several daughter sauces like:
- Mornay: béchamel with onion, cloves, Gruyère cheese, and Parmesan
- Soubise: béchamel with butter and caramelized onions
- Nantua: béchamel with shrimp, butter, and heavy cream
White sauce should not be confused with the French beurre blanc sauce which literally translates to “Butter White”. To compare the two:
- Béchamel: sauce made from butter, flour and milk.
- Buerre blanc: sauce made from butter, vinegar or white wine, and shallots.
Frequently asked questions
What to serve béchamel sauce with?
You can use béchamel sauce almost any sort of dish, from pasta bakes and lasagna, to baked chicken. It can also go directly on cooked or steamed vegetables like spinach, cauliflower or broccoli.
Certain French dishes like the quenelles, gratin potatoes, coquilles st jacques, and creamy chicken blanquette are also regularly made with béchamel sauce.
What drinks to serve with it?
Can you freeze it?
Yes, béchamel sauce can be frozen. Portion the béchamel sauce in an airtight container or silicone ziplock bags, so that you can defrost the sauce for a single serving. (Do not defrost and then refreeze.)
To defrost béchamel sauce, place in the fridge overnight.
Place in a saucepan and whisk over low heat for a few minutes to return to its original consistency. Serve while warm.
- 30g Butter
- 30g Flour
- 1/2 litre Milk
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan at a low temperature.
- Once the butter is melted, add the flour to make the roux.
- Stir with a wooden spoon without letting the roux burn. To prevent burning, add a few drops of oil, if necessary.
- Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
- Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.
The amount of butter should match the amount of flour, otherwise the béchamel sauce will not be very creamy.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 147Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g
Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for informational purposes only.
If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French recipes that are easy to prepare. Bon appétit and à bientôt !
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