How to Make Perfect Bechamel (Cheesy White) Sauce Recipe

June 19, 2012 by

Bechamel sauce

Many people buy jars of bechamel sauce for lasagne, potato bake, vegetable bakes, etc because they think it’s too hard to makeĀ a perfect cheesy white sauce at home. Wrong!

Perfect bechamel sauce is easy to make yourself with my foolproof recipe.

20g butter + 20g cornflour + 1 cup milk + 1/4 cup cheese

That’s the basic formula.

For every 20g of butter and cornflour you add, you need an extra 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of cheese. ALWAYS WEIGH YOUR BUTTER AND CORNFLOUR for the best results!

Although you can use plain flour, I always use cornflour as I find it blends faster with the butter and gives a smoother sauce overall. Plus it has less “flavour” than plain flour, so it cooks out better. Also feel free to use skim or no fat milk as it works just as well, but I don’t recommend using margarine in the roux.

How to make foolproof cheesy white bechamel sauce:

Warm your milk in a heatproof jug in the microwave. It doesn’t need to be hot, just not cold.

Heat a saucepan over medium to low heat on your smallest burner/element. Melt the butter until it foams slightly, then put in all the cornflour.

Whisk quickly until the butter and cornflour form a smooth, loose paste. Let it bubble away for 1 minute, making sure the heat isn’t too high as you can’t let it brown or burn.

Bechamel roux

Tip: at this point I usually like to add one clove of crushed garlic for extra flavour, especially if I’m using this on cauliflower or other vegetables. I leave it out if making lasagne.

Start adding the milk, about 1/2 a cup at a time. Whisk until the milk is absorbed and the roux forms a smooth ball that comes totally away from the sides and leaves your pan clean. Add more milk, and repeat that process. You should now have added half the milk, and you can add in the rest of it all at once. Carefully whisk the roux into the milk to form a smooth, silky and loose sauce. It takes about 5 minutes to fully combine it and whisk out any lumps.

Let it simmer on low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Add the cheese and take the sauce off the heat, and whisk until the cheese is melted and combined. If you want your sauce quite thick, you can continue to cook it on the stove over low heat, but you have to watch it very carefully as it can turn quickly. If it goes too far, you can always loosen it with a little bit more milk.

You can now season your bechamel with pepper, nutmeg, cayenne or any other flavouring you like.

Bechamel sauce

Perfect cheesy, white, bechamel sauce in 15 minutes!

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5 Comments

  1. CJ

    For once, I have to disagree with you! An even easier way is to put all ingredients (bar the nutmeg and cheese) into the pan and simply whisk. It never ever goes lumpy. The secret is to make sure all of your ingredients are ice cold. I put the pan in the freezer to make sure!

  2. Cat

    This is highly unconventional wisdom, but I will give it a go!!

  3. Carole

    I have never heard or come across the “ice cold” method above. Everyone from my grandmother to the BBC to MasterChef uses the “roux” method, as the flour/cornflour must be cooked before adding the milk. However, if this works for you CJ, then stick with it.

  4. CJ

    Trust me on this one Carole!

  5. Thanks for sharing! Tried it tonight and it turned out great. Added the garlic as suggested and a little white pepper at the end and all I can say is it was delish :) Thank you.

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