How to Make a White Sauce (Includes Variations)
Making a white sauce takes just minutes. All you need is butter, flour, milk, a saucepan and a simple whisk.
Knowing how to make the white sauce is an essential skill that serves all cooks well. White sauce is tasty, versatile, and it can help to complete a particular dish. It is the basis for many dishes and being able to make your own saves you from having to use canned soups in recipes. Plus, you control the taste and texture.
Uses for white sauce are nearly endless. It can be used as a creamy pasta sauce or to top a plate of chicken and noodles; it can be used as a base for an eggplant-and-Parmesan casserole, or in scalloped potatoes. It can be used as a topping for veggies. Imagine a buttery white sauce over Brussels sprouts.
You can also easily jazz things up, adding other ingredients such as a little wine and sliced mushrooms for a gourmet mushroom sauce. How about adding garlic and Parmesan for a topper for green beans? If you add cheese, you have a velvety-smooth cheese sauce that goes perfectly over broccoli or that can be used to make cheesy scalloped potatoes or tasty homemade macaroni and cheese.
The sky is the limit and imaginative cooks find many uses for basic white sauce and its fancier counterparts, adding both taste and texture to many foods. It's the go-to base for sauces, fillings, gravies, and toppers.
- 1-2 teaspoons butter
- 1-2 teaspoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- Melt butter in a saucepan.
- Whisk in flour (the roux) and stir until combined.
- Add milk, bit by bit, continually stirring until all is smooth.
- Adjust the heat until the mixture is gently bubbling.
- Continue cooking and stirring until white sauce is thickened. Stirring is key to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
Did You Know?
The French name for white sauce is Bechamel.
Tips and Reminders
All of these measurements are guides.
- If your sauce is too thin, follow the steps for the butter and flour mixture again in a separate pan and add it to your white sauce, then cook and whisk until all is blended and sauce is smooth.
- If your sauce is too thick, simply add in more milk to thin it.
- To make more sauce, double ingredients.
- Always use real butter for the best-tasting white sauce
- When adding milk, always use a whisk so that sauce becomes smooth and lump-free
- Gently simmer your sauce and continue stirring to avoid sticking and burning.
Have you ever made a white sauce?
How to Use This Homemade Sauce
- Use it as a base for scalloped potatoes.
- Ladle it over diced cooked potatoes, top with chopped chives and dill. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top.
- Toss linguine with white sauce and top with Parmesan.
- Use as a filling when making spinach-vegetable lasagna.
- Use as the basis for creamed soups
- Use to make creamed peas.
- Make a creamy chicken gravy by making a white sauce with pan drippings.
- Use as a cream gravy over ham.
- Use in oven casseroles for a creamy gravy.
- Use to make mushroom soup or mushroom gravy.
Seasoning Suggestions for Your Sauce
White sauce has a light flavor and can be used as-is or seasoned with salt and freshly grated pepper.
Depending on what dish you are making, though, you may wish to season your white sauce with different ingredients, such as seasonings, herbs or even broth.
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- seasoned salt
Meals You Can Make With White Sauce
Chicken and Pasta With Creamy White Sauce
- Make a creamy white sauce and keep it warm.
- Fry sliced chicken pieces until well-cooked or use leftover chicken pieces.
- Add onions and mushrooms and fry them until browned.
- Stir in chopped spinach.
- Combine creamy white sauce with cooked pasta noodles and add the other ingredients. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
A mushroom sauce can be made by sautéing sliced mushrooms in butter and then adding them to the white sauce. Use this as a topper for noodles.
You may at times, opt for a richer white sauce. Why not try a cream sauce? It's a similar recipe, but the cream gives it additional heft.
One of the most common additions to plain white sauce is cheese. No need to buy jars of cheese sauce when you can easily make it from home. Cheese adds so much flavor and a pleasing color.
- Make a basic white sauce and stir in 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
- Whisk in the cheese and continue stirring, until smooth. As the cheese melts, your sauce will become a lovely color.
Have you ever made a cheese sauce?
Serving Suggestions for Cheese Sauce
That wasn't so hard, was it? Some cooks have felt intimated at the thought of making white sauce and are surprised that it is actually quite easy to do. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. This is one skill that truly isn't hard to learn.
© 2009 Athlyn Green