Velvety Béchamel Sauce Recipe & Tasty Ways to Use It

Our creamy traditional béchamel is a versatile sauce you can use in everything from chicken bakes to pasta dishes.

Updated January 16, 2024
Bechamel sauce

If you're looking for a creamy and rich white sauce to add to some of your pasta or meat dishes, give the traditional French béchamel sauce a try. Considered to be one of the "mother sauces" in French cuisine, this simple but creamy sauce can be found in some of our classic favorites, such as baked pasta dishes, gratin, soufflés, and more. Using just a few ingredients, give your meals an exquisite and classy upgrade. 

How to Make a Traditional Béchamel sauce

Substitute the red sauce for this béchamel sauce in some of your favorite dishes, such as homemade lasagna. This recipe makes about 2 cups of sauce.


  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ onion, left whole
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • White pepper


  1. Lay one bay leaf on top of the other and pin it to the onion using the clove.
  2. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the milk and onion with the bay leaves and clove, and bring to a simmer over very low heat. Be careful not to scald the milk.
  3. Let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. While the milk mixture is heating, melt the butter in a medium-sized heavy saucepan over low heat.
  5. When the butter is melted, use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour.
  6. Continue stirring over the heat until the butter and flour form a roux and then remove from the heat.
  7. Remove the onion and bay leaves mixture from the heated milk and discard.
  8. Slowly add the hot milk to the roux, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to break up any lumps.
  9. Return the pan to the stove and continue whisking as you bring the mix to a simmer over low heat.
  10. Continue cooking over low heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce turns thick and creamy. 
  11. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, if you wish.

Related: Vegetarian Lasagna Recipes & Tips to Cook Like a Pro

Quick Tip

You can change the consistency of the sauce by changing the amount of butter and flour. Use more flour for a thicker sauce, or less for a thinner sauce. Additional butter will also help thin the sauce.

Uses for Béchamel  Sauce and Variations

While béchamel is delicious on its own, it also makes for a tasty base for many other sauces. Try one of the variations below.

Mornay Cheese Sauce

Mornay sauce is made by adding ½ to ¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese, 1 to 2 teaspoons mustard, and a drop of Worcestershire sauce. Use this sauce to make macaroni and cheese, or spoon it over ham on an English muffin and broil. It's also delicious served over hot cooked pasta.

Veloute Sauce

Substitute milk for chicken or beef stock. Pour this sauce over baked chicken and broil. Or use it to make turkey or chicken divan.

Quick Tip

Opt for freshly grated cheese. This adds to the overall flavor and texture of your sauce. Packaged cheese contains more moisture and additives that may affect the taste of the cheese. 

A Creamy Sauce for All Your Entrées

If there's a sauce that will make your heart and stomach full, it's a traditional béchamel sauce. Give your weeknight dinners a new flavor with a velvety cream sauce that's considered to be a classic French "mother sauce." It's time to say goodbye to boring red sauce and say hello to cream-based lasagnas and baked chicken dishes.  

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Velvety Béchamel Sauce Recipe & Tasty Ways to Use It