This French sauce is made from butter, milk, flour and salt. It’s the base for a range of homey, comforting recipes, such as Creamed Asparagus and Broccoli and Cheese Sauce or Mac and Cheese, and is a versatile, essential sauce that’s easy to master.
The reason I use the term to master when I mention a bechamel sauce, is because so many people have asked me how come their white sauces never turn out right, so there are a few simple tips to help you get the best results.
QA1: Why does my bechamel sauce taste like flour?
If you find that your white sauce is tasting floury, then the chances are that you didn’t cook the roux long enough. Melt your butter, add your flour and stir continually for at least five minutes.
QA2: My bechamel sauce is always lumpy, what am I doing wrong?
Lumpy bechamel sauce (or any type of sauce) can turn out lumpy if you add the liquid to quickly and didn’t whisk it fast enough. The trick is too keep whisking while you slowly pour a little milk into the roux and as it thickens, add a little more milk, keep on whisking until smooth. Repeat these steps until all the milk is used.
QA3: Why does my sauce taste burnt?
Ok, this can happen rather quickly, when you’re cooking the roux and you over brown or scorch the flour/butter, you can end up with a burnt taste that’s not at all pleasing. Be very careful when you start your roux, have all your ingredients premeasured and ready, so as you whisk the butter and flour together and you will not need to leave it to burn as you measure your milk. Keep your temperature low to low/medium. You know your stove best.
QA4: Why does my bechamel taste so bland?
First, a lot of the flavour for your sauce comes from cooking it thoroughly. When you caramalize the roux you will end up with a slight nutty flavour (tasty). On the other hand, when you scorch the roux as I mentioned in question 3, you’ll have a sauce that is bitter. Second, you have to use spices. A pinch of salt and white pepper for your basic white sauce will do. When I am preparing my cheese sauce, I use a little chili powder and garlic. Depends what you are using the sauce for.
Here’s what you need for this recipe:
- pinch of salt (white pepper)
1. Measure out all your ingredients.
2. In a heavy sauce pan, melt the butter on low to medium heat (don’t scorch)
3. While you stir, add the flour. Making a paste (the roux).
4. Cook the roux for at least 5 minutes (keep stirring, let the roux cook to golden brown).
5. Using a whisk, start by adding a splash of milk, whisk quickly so you have a smooth paste.
6. Keep adding milk while you whisk.
7. Once you have added all the milk, continue to stir and cook over low/medium heat for 10 minutes.
8. Add your spices at the end.
Bechamel sauce is the perfect sauce to serve over fresh garden vegetables (carrots, beans, onions). Other delicious ideas: creamed fish, creamed asparagus on toast or scalloped potatoes.
For another delicious and simple sauce, try my 3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce.
If you have questions about this recipe, please drop me a comment below. What’s the one sauce you make over and over? I’d love to hear about it!