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Basic White Sauce

Total Time

Prep/Total Time: 10 min.


1 cup

Updated: Dec. 21, 2022
For years, I've used this smooth white sauce for pasta to make many dishes. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. —Lois Gelzer, Standish, Maine


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash white pepper
  • 1 cup 2% milk


  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
Cheese Sauce: Prepare Basic White Sauce as directed. Reduce heat; stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Cook and stir just until cheese is melted. Curry Sauce: Add 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and a dash of ground ginger with the salt and pepper. Mornay Sauce: Prepare Basic White Sauce as directed. Reduce heat; stir in 1/4 cup shredded Swiss or Parmesan cheese or a combination of both and a dash of ground nutmeg. Cook and stir just until cheese is melted. Mustard Sauce: Stir 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard into finished Basic White Sauce. Brown Sauce: Substitute beef broth for the milk. For a richer color, add a dash of browning sauce. Veloute Sauce: Substitute chicken, turkey or fish broth for the milk.

White Sauce Tips

How do I make a perfect white sauce?

Mastering this basic white sauce recipe, also known as bechamel, takes little time and puts a world of recipes at your fingertips. It's even one of the essential French "mother sauces" that you learn in cooking school! Whisking the butter and flour well while slowly adding the milk will result in a smooth, creamy sauce every time. If you end up a with a broken sauce, no worries! There are ways to fix a broken sauce in no time flat.

How is white sauce used?

You can use white sauce by drizzling it over asparagus, baked chicken or grilled fish. It's also the base for many other favorites like classic creamed spinach and biscuits and sausage gravy.

Can white sauce be made in advance?

Using the sauce immediately ensures optimal consistency for your recipe, but it can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days if needed. When ready to use, warm gently over low heat and whisk until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add warm milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time. Freezing is a good option if you have an abundance of sauce. Spoon sauce into a freezer-safe container, placing a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce; seal tightly and freeze for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Facts

2 tablespoons: 51 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 12mg cholesterol, 81mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.