15-Minute Béchamel Sauce Recipe Tutorial

Follow this 15-minute recipe tutorial at home to whip up a deliciously creamy
white béchamel sauce. Made with just a few basic ingredients on the stovetop,
including butter, flour and milk, this versatile warm white sauce is the perfect
base for countless dishes, from homemade mac and cheese to ricotta cheese lasagna. The technique of combining fat, thickeners, liquids and heat into sauce is your gateway to something good!

a pan of pasta with sauce and a pan of toasted breadcrumbs.

What is béchamel sauce?

Don’t let the name throw you off. Béchamel is the French word for a white cream sauce and is a building block sauce a cook needs in their back pocket. I’ve been making this 15 minute béchamel sauce recipe since I started cooking for my family over 35 years ago and it’s a base for simple homemade pasta sauces in Italian cooking as well.

Come along as I share this easy tutorial. You’ll be whisking up dreamy, creamy béchamel in no time!

Save some pennies

Easy. One skillet and a few minutes and you’ll have béchamel.

Available. You likely have most of the ingredients in your pantry or fridge, I promise.

Saves money. Forget buying a jarred pasta cream sauce. For the cost of a few ingredients like butter, flour, milk or chicken broth, you can make a macaroni and cheese with béchamel sauce and or an Italian lasagna using béchamel instead of ricotta.

Simple ingredient list

measuring cup , milk, flour, butter, whisk and red gingham napkins

Just 3 common ingredients (5 if you count salt and pepper) are the basis for white sauce:

Unsalted butter. My favorite is Land O’Lakes

All-purpose flour. The main difference between bechamel and butter cream sauce is the use of flour as thickener to milk where in a classic butter and cream sauce recipe you’d use only cream.

Milk. You can use 2% or whole milk. Read below for alternative milks I’ve also experimented with to make a béchamel cream sauce.

Creamy béchamel sauce ratio

Béchamel (pronounced “bay-sha-MEL”) is a white sauce that begins with a roux (“roo” – like Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet and…) and ends with milk.

A roux is usually equal parts of fat and thickener – in this case, butter and flour.

The roux is cooked over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the flour taste is cooked out. When the roux starts to get all sun-tanny, milk is whisked into the butter and flour to create a sauce and avoid any lumps from forming.

3 easy steps

cast iron skillet with butter melting
Start the roux by melting butter in a skillet or saucepan
adding flour to skillet of butter
Stir in flour and cook for two minutes to cook off flour taste
finished bechamel sauce in a saucepan with a wooden spoon
Add in cream and simmer until the sauce thickens

Here’s how to make a simple béchamel sauce:

  1. To make a roux, melt butter in a heated skillet or saucepan.
  2. Add in flour and stir for 2 minutes. The flour will thicken and turn a light brown as it cooks for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in milk and whisk until the roux is incorporated. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened about 8-10 minutes.

Pro Tip

The béchamel is ready when the sauce coats the back of a spoon (meaning it leaves a film on the spoon).

Alternative non-dairy milk substitutions

pot of béchamel white sauce with cheese and a wooden spatula

I’ve done a little testing on how to make a gluten and dairy-free white sauce. Made easy with any number of non-dairy milk alternatives (I used a pea protein milk by Ripple – this isn’t sponsored just my opinion), I found combining pea protein milk with a roux from olive oil + brown rice flour works really well.

This version of my white sauce recipe came together very nicely and would make a great canvas for any herbs, non-dairy cheeses or seasonings.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Storage

Store leftover béchamel in an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 days.

Make ahead

You can this white sauce recipe up to a day ahead to use in your recipe.

Freezer

  • Freeze béchamel sauce recipe in freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. You can also use ice cube trays to freeze béchamel. Pop out and store the frozen cubes in a freezer safe bag to use as needed.
  • Thaw in the fridge overnight before heating in a saucepan on the stove and whisk to the desired consistency.

TIPS:

For many: if using for a mac ‘n cheese or au gratin recipe, a triple recipe will make enough for 1 lb of pasta.

For a few: layer as one sauce component in your favorite lasagna recipe.

milk and flour container with whisk.
5 from 1 vote

15-Minute Béchamel Sauce Recipe Tutorial

Follow this 15-minute recipe tutorial at home to whip up a deliciously creamy white béchamel sauce. Made with just a few basic ingredients on the stovetop,including butter, flour and milk, this versatile warm white sauce is the perfect base for countless dishes, from homemade mac and cheese to lasagna. The technique of combining fat, thickeners, liquids and heat into sauce is your gateway to something good!
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:8 minutes
Total Time:13 minutes
Servings 1.5 cups
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Ingredients
 

  • 2 TBSP butter, or any fat like olive oil, coconut oil or more
  • 2 TBSP flour, or cornstarch or brown rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk, can use alternative milks
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black or white pepper

Instructions

  • Over medium heat, start melting butter in medium saucepan. Add flour stirring with a whisk continuously until a thick paste forms. Continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes until lightly browned and flour taste is cooked off.
  • Carefully add milk while stirring with a whisk. Bring to a low boil and then lower heat to medium low.
  • Cook stirring often until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a metal spoon evenly.
  • Remove from heat to add cheeses if adding. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

  • Store bechamel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Make ahead. Can be made ahead the day before to use in a recipe.
  • Freezer Tips.
    • Freeze bechamel sauce recipe in freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. You can also use ice cube trays to freeze bechamel. Pop out and store the frozen cubes in a freezer safe bag to use as needed.
    • Thaw in the fridge overnight before heating in a saucepan on the stove and whisk to the desired consistency.
Non dairy option:
I’ve done a little testing on how to make a gluten and dairy-free white sauce. Made easy with any number of non-dairy milk alternatives (I used a pea protein milk by Ripple – this isn’t sponsored just my opinion), I found combining pea protein milk with a roux from olive oil + brown rice flour works really well.
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Soup
Cuisine: American, French, Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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6 Comments

    1. Hi Cheri! So bechamel is a white sauce with very little flavor and it’s the base for things like macaroni and cheese and used to layer lasagna. What kind of meatballs are you thinking of using? I’d be more inclined to try a butter and cream sauce with has some good cheesy flavor. Let me know more info and I’m happy to help troubleshoot!

  1. I had a package of gnocchi and made this sauce with sauteed butternut squash. It was so easy and delicious. If you saw how lazy a cook I am, you would see this as a step up in my culinary toolbox.5 stars

    1. So happy to hear that Barb! Glad you liked it- and I’m all for easy too. Life is too busy so dinner shouldn’t have to be!?