Béchamel Sauce

11:30 am on 17 September 2012

My usual addition to this basic white sauce is a good-quality grated cheese — French Emmental, Comté, Beaufort or Swiss Gruyère. It can be transformed into many other sauces by making a few variations.

(Makes 1 cup)


  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg (optional)


Melt the butter in a pot over a low heat. Add the flour, whisking it in, and cook for 1–2 minutes. Make sure the mixture foams gently and doesn’t brown.

Take the pot off the heat and gradually add some of the milk. Whisk quickly to avoid lumps. Return the pot to the stove. Keep whisking and adding milk. If it gets lumpy, don’t worry — just take the pot off the heat and give the sauce a really good whisk, particularly around the edges.

Once you’ve added all the milk, simmer the sauce for a few minutes on a very low heat. Use a simmer mat if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper and, if you like, a little freshly grated nutmeg.

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