Basic white sauce

I first learnt how to make a basic white sauce years ago. I was in my early teens and following one of my mum’s old 70s cookbooks to make macaroni cheese. It’s really very simple once you know how and once you’ve mastered it, you have the foundation for a whole load of sauces for a whole load of meals. So here it is…



1oz butter
1oz flour
1/2 pint milk
Black pepper



Place the butter in a saucepan on a low to medium heat and allow it to melt.

Once it’s fully melted (but not sizzling), add the flour and stir it quickly to combine into a roux (a basic doughy mixture that “rolls” around the pan). Give it a few seconds for the flour to cook in the pan.

Gradually add the milk, a little at a time. Make sure the milk is thoroughly stirred into the roux before adding more.

Keep adding the milk. If at any point you find it becomes lumpy, don’t fret! Just stir vigorously, or take a whisk to it. The lumps will soon dissolve into the milk. And keep stirring. Gradually the sauce will start to thicken.

As soon as it starts simmering, remove from the heat and add a good pinch of black pepper. Et voila! That’s your basic béchamel sauce. From here you can make any of the following with a few extra ingredients:

Bread sauce (breadcrumbs, cloves)

Lasagne/cannelloni sauce (nutmeg)

Cheese sauce (1tsp mustard, 6oz grated cheddar)

Parsley (fresh or dried parsley, bay leaf)

Fish pie (poaching milk from the fish, lemon juice, bay leaf)


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6 thoughts on “Basic white sauce

  1. Ema Jones December 9, 2014 at 12:10 Reply

    Your “extra ingredients” are very tempting 🙂

    • The Pie Patch December 9, 2014 at 12:12 Reply

      I am OBSESSED with bread sauce. I could eat it straight from the jug with a spoon.

      • Ema Jones December 10, 2014 at 14:39

        I think it can be best paired with fish, isn’t it?

      • The Pie Patch December 12, 2014 at 09:02

        Absolutely. I love parsley sauce with fish. Or a white wine sauce.

  2. Linda Martin December 24, 2014 at 07:26 Reply

    Did you know that you can make a fantastically simple white sauce by putting all the usual ingredients into a saucepan and then whisking over heat with a balloon whisk. Works perfectly every time xx

    • The Pie Patch December 24, 2014 at 09:09 Reply

      I did, yes! I prefer to do a roux first but I do use a whisk sometimes.

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