White sauce in a saucepan with wooden spoon

White sauce

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(35 ratings)

Prep: 2 mins Cook: 15 mins


Makes about 500ml

Every home cook needs a good béchamel sauce in their repertoire - our step-by-step guide shows how to make a roux and get rid of lumps

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per 100ml

  • kcal175
  • fat12g
  • saturates8g
  • carbs12g
  • sugars5g
  • fibre0g
  • protein4g
  • salt0.3g


  • 500ml whole milk
  • 1 onion, halved



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves



    A clove is the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a…

  • 50g butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 50g plain flour


  1. Gently bring 500ml whole milk to the boil in a small saucepan with 1 halved onion, studded with 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 mins.

  2. Melt 50g butter in another saucepan, then add 50g plain flour. Stir continuously until a paste forms – this is called a roux. Continue cooking for 2 mins.

  3. Remove the onion, bay and cloves from the milk with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the infused milk to the roux gradually, stirring as you go, until you get a smooth sauce. Cook for 5-10 mins, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Jack Winkles's picture
Jack Winkles
24th Mar, 2020
The roux takes forever to break up. Melt the butter with the milk and sift in the flour
8th Jun, 2017
Worked well. But for those like me that don't own scales or detest the metric system, use 1 pint of milk (using stolen pub glass), 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour.
2nd Mar, 2017
There is a glaring error in the ingredients list, any chef from day one at catering school knows that the ratio of flour to fat for a Roux is 2 to 1. The mix of 1 to 1 shown on here will result in a mess, other than that it's as good as any description I have seen for making a Bechamel
Charlie Mullett's picture
Charlie Mullett
23rd Apr, 2019
Has it been a long time since culinary school!? Measure 2:1 by volume, 1:1 by weight :P
24th Jan, 2017
Great base. I used butter with (white) spelt flour, added in (oat) milk and thickened. Then put in half a tub of ricotta as it needed using (stick blended to ensure smoothness), bit of grated cheddar, a whole peeled red onion, bay and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Then simmered for a bit. Great for lasagna! Very pleased I don't have to buy processed white lasagna sauce again :) Also froze in portions for another day. Score!
8th Jun, 2017
Why are you reviewing your own recipe? Weird!
abcdefghijord's picture
16th Dec, 2014
Used to do this before finding the recipe but the milk was always guess work, worked out perfect. Great base for many dishes
3rd Jan, 2014
I opt for the chuck everything in the pot and whisk until it thickens method which works every time and is much less like hard work.
15th Jul, 2013
Great recipe for white sauce. Helped me create my best pasta with white sauce to date.
3rd Jan, 2020
I don’t have any cloves. Can I use allspice instead and if so, how much, when and how? Thanks in advance.
lulu_grimes's picture
6th Jan, 2020
Hello, Allspice won't taste the same, you can leave the cloves out, the bay gives a lovely flavour. I sometimes use a grating of nutmeg instead of cloves. I hope this helps.
abcdefghijord's picture
16th Dec, 2014
Use a whisk to get any lumps out
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