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+ servings
classic béchamel sauce

Bechamel Sauce

Steven Pennington
How to Make a Classic French Bechamel Sauce
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Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course French Mother Sauce
Cuisine French


  • All-Purpose Flour 3 Tablespoons
  • High-Quality Butter 4 Tablespoons
  • Whole Milk 2 ¼ cups
  • Onion ½ large
  • Cloves 7
  • Nutmeg teaspoon



  • Cut Onion in half, remove the small ball on the end of the cloves. We are only using the stems. Place 7 Clove stems in the half Onion.

Bechamel Roux

  • First, melt butter over medium-high heat, then add the flour and coat all the flour in butter.
  • "Cook-Out" the flour. Allow the flour to absorb the butter. This will help ensure the Bechamel sauce will not be grainy.
  • Next, add in ⅓ of the Milk and stir constantly. The sauce will try to thicken. Add the remaining Milk at this point. Keep stirring. Allow the Milk to come to a soft boil. (Soft boil means the bubbles are breaking the surface, but not a full boil)
  • Once at a soft boil turn off heat. The sauce will thicken. If the sauce gets too thick for your purposes add a little more Milk to thin out the sauce. Remember the heat activates the Roux and thickens.
  • Add the Nutmeg, to taste. Stir and incorporate
  • Add the Onion with the Cloves to the pot.
  • Cover the pot for 4 to 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.


  • When it comes to making sauces, I feel one variable is the key to success. That would be timing. Working in the kitchen is very much like dancing, having your ingredients all laid out and ready to move when the timing is just right. Being just a little off can result in failure and having to start over.
    One of the first things students learn in culinary school is timing. There is great satisfaction cooking in a kitchen, doing the dance, having all our ingredients laid out, each one measured out perfectly, just waiting to be called upon. This is called Mise en Place.
    Mise en Place (MEEZ ahn Plahs) the French culinary term that means having all your ingredients measured, peeled, sliced, cut, grated, etc before you begin cooking. This also means having your pot and pans, mixing bowls, knives, tools, etc layout.
    This area is the main reason most cooks make mistakes in the kitchen. Cooking well requires planning and thought, so when you begin, it's like you've already made your recipe and you're only repeating. This process of thinking things through before beginning is often where you catch your mistakes before they happen. "Oh, I forgot about the Garlic" sounds obvious, but we all know we've done this many times. Only if we had done our Mise en Place.


  • This recipe can be multiplied two, three times to meet your quantity needs. A classic Roux's is the base of a bechamel sauce and is usually equals parts of flour and butter.
    Our Bechamel Sauce roux recipe calls for 4 tablespoons Butter & 3 Tablespoons Flour
    Melt the butter over medium-high heat
    Next, add the Flour - 3 Tablespoons
    Key: Cooking out the Flour - Allow the Flour to absorb the butter and hydrate the flour - This ensures the Bechamel sauce isn't grainy.


  • Steps
    1) Using medium heat to begin, cookout the flour in the roux. This means controlling the heat of the butter. Once the flour is added, it will bubble up a small amount. Allowing the flour to cook out is taking the dry raw flour away with the butter hydration.
    2) As soon as the roux is ready, add in ⅓ of the milk over medium-high heat and stir constantly. The sauce will start to thicken. Warm milk mixes best.
    Next, add the remaining milk and keep stirring. Do not leave the sauce unattended at this point.
    Reduce the heat to low, add in half of one large onion. Stick cloves into the onion all over; use between 7 & 10 cloves. Simmer until the flavors of clove and onion meet your recipe needs.


  • - Nutmeg
    - Onion
    - Cloves
    Many cooks are familiar with what is called a White Sauce. But a white sauce is not a Bechamel sauce, but a Bechamel is always a White sauce.
    The addition of nutmeg, onion & clove makes it a classic Bechamel sauce. Cooks often mislabel White sauces as Bechamel sauce.
    Mise en place #1: Prep the onion. Cut in half, remove the outer cover. Prepare the cloves: Remove the tiny seed at the end of the clove. This is too strong of a flavor. The flavor will still perfume the sauce, but just the right amount with the ends removed.




Roux is a mixture of flour and a fat, often butter, coming together as one, like a paste. Acts as a thickener for sauces/soups.
Bechamel sauce in its traditional form ( meaning a number of sauces stem from Bechamel sauce) is known as a French white sauce. To create a white sauce, the beginning factor is the Roux, which needs to be a Blond Roux.
A Blond Roux is just a Roux that has been cooked, but without adding any color, which would darken the sauce. High-quality butter is often golden and can impart some color, but the Roux would still constitute a Blond Roux
Keyword Bechamel Sauce Recipe, Classic Bechamel Sauce
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