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All Recipes > White Sauce, or Béchamel

White Sauce, or Béchamel

Very basic. Used not only for creaming foods like vegetables and fish but as a base for many other sauces.


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2-2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small onion studded with 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 small bay leaf
  • nutmeg


Melt over low heat 2 Tbsp. butter. For a delicate flavor, even commercial establishments have found no substitute for butter.

Add and blend over low heat for 3-5 minutes 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp. flour. Stir in slowly 1 cup milk. For better consistency, you may scald the milk beforehand. But be sure—to avoid lumping—that the roux is cool when you add it.

Add 1 small onion studded with 2 or 3 whole cloves and 1/2 small bay leaf.

Cook and stir the sauce with a wire whisk or wooden spoon until thickened and smooth. Place in a 350° oven for 20 minutes to cook slowly. The oven interval also saves your time and hands for other kitchen jobs. Strain the sauce. Season to taste.

Add a grating of nutmeg and serve. For creamed dishes, use about half as much sauce as solids.

Source: Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., Indianapolis/New York, 1975, p. 341.

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