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How to Make a White Sauce (Includes Variations)

Athlyn Green enjoys whipping up tasty dishes in her home kitchen. She's received many requests for her recipes and is happy to share.

A lovely smooth white sauce

A lovely smooth white sauce

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


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk in flour (the roux) and stir until combined.
  3. Add milk, bit by bit, continually stirring until all is smooth.
  4. Adjust the heat until the mixture is gently bubbling.
  5. 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.
White sauce recipe

White sauce recipe

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.
As can be seen from this picture, if you keep stirring and whisking, your sauce will turn into a smooth mixture with no lumps. It is almost magical how three simple ingredients can transform into a such a wonderful velvety sauce.

As can be seen from this picture, if you keep stirring and whisking, your sauce will turn into a smooth mixture with no lumps. It is almost magical how three simple ingredients can transform into a such a wonderful velvety sauce.

If you are making a large batch of white sauce, say for a large casserole, a pourable pot is ideal, as shown pictured above.

If you are making a large batch of white sauce, say for a large casserole, a pourable pot is ideal, as shown pictured above.

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.
A white sauce adds to scalloped potatoes

A white sauce adds to scalloped potatoes

cooked white sauce on scalloped potatoes

cooked white sauce on scalloped potatoes

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
  • paprika
  • parsley
  • seasoned salt


  • dill
  • parsley


  • chicken

Meals You Can Make With White Sauce

Chicken and Pasta With Creamy White Sauce

  1. Make a creamy white sauce and keep it warm.
  2. Fry sliced chicken pieces until well-cooked or use leftover chicken pieces.
  3. Add onions and mushrooms and fry them until browned.
  4. Stir in chopped spinach.
  5. Combine creamy white sauce with cooked pasta noodles and add the other ingredients. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Mushroom Sauce

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.

Cream Sauce

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.

Adding Cheese

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.

  1. Make a basic white sauce and stir in 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
  2. Whisk in the cheese and continue stirring, until smooth. As the cheese melts, your sauce will become a lovely color.
Making cheese sauce

Making 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


heart storms on November 27, 2016:

I used this sauce over my turkey meatballs that i had stuffed with sautéed scallions mushroom and zucchini and fried with a light organic bread crumb, dusted on the outside. I than made some lemon pepper linguini and wrapped each noodle around the meatball, after drenching the noodle and meatballs in the sauce. at the end, besides it tasting heavenly. It was easy to eat and will make a great dinner appetizer for the christmas dinner.


Tony Mead from Yorkshire on May 30, 2013:


nice hub, useful information which has been well presented. I think one of the secrets of good sauces is to take your time and let nature take its own course rather than trying to push it.



Juicerworld1 on July 25, 2012:


Thanx for sharing ...Will definitely try this...smiley.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 17, 2012:

This recipe will stand you in good stead for a basic white sauce recipe.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 17, 2012:

Thank you! I've used it for years and it comes in so handy. Once you get onto making it, it is so easy.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 17, 2012:

This is a basic white sauce. You can add seasoning or other things to enhance it's flavor. Some people add paprika, onion powder, seasoned salt, etc.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 17, 2012:

For chicken pie, you might be better to make a chicken gravy. Simply thicken chicken broth with some cornstarch (you mix 1-2 tbsp. cornstarch with a little bit of water, in a cup, and then add to simmering broth.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 17, 2012:

Hi Handyman,

Making a white sauce is one thing all cooks should learn because it comes in so handy for so many dishes.

Bill from Greensburg Pennsylvania on June 16, 2012:

Hey this is great. Tried it and it does work great thanks.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on May 04, 2012:

Thanks for all the comments. I use this white sauce all the time and it's easy to make and works for mac & cheese, for topping noodles, for eggplant casserole or for anytime that you need a sauce. It's also good over vegetables.

You can adjust seasoning for more flavor and if you use cream instead of milk, this also adds richness.

bmcoll3278 on May 03, 2012:

Just like my mom taught me very good indeed

Glenys Little on March 13, 2012:

my husband made white sause for the first time using this resceipe, thank you one less job for me. now if i could get him to pick up the newspaper off the floor when he is finish with it.

Carman on October 15, 2011:

Ad some cheese, garlic powder, chives, thym, oregano, basil. and mushrooms and you have a perfect alfredo sauce, we don't like the stuff made with heavy cream etc. I always make it with 1% milk.

yammiflakes on October 10, 2011:

i am searching menu and ifound this thank you so much coz it so wonderful........

nishant on September 13, 2011:

Hi....i wish to open a small pasta outlet and was looking for the white and red sauce basic recipes which can be made in bulk and can be stores for a day or two. Would really appreciate if i can get some help.


Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on August 14, 2011:

Hi Wayseeker,

So glad that you found this recipe for white sauce helpful.

wayseeker from Colorado on August 13, 2011:


Made the basic sauce with some gorgonzola cheese--it's like I'm at a restaurant, but even better because I get to control the taste. Excellent recipe here. Thanks!!!


Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on March 20, 2011:

This is a basic white sauce, which can be added to, using cream or cheese for additional flavor.

Another nice addition to combine white sauce with chicken broth if you are making a white sauce to serve over chicken and noodles.

Vicki and Bec on March 17, 2011:

We tried this recipe. It was very flour like..we added cheese and garlic and turned out nice, otherwise it was very bland.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on November 10, 2010:

For chicken pie, you might use chicken broth thickened so it is like gravy. This white sauce is wonderful for topping meat or noodles. One great-tasting dish is to make a white sauce, then drop in pieces of chicken and any other ingredients you favor. This can be ladelled over noodles.

I add cheese to this white sauce when I'm making homemade macaroni and cheese.

hayley hermitage on November 10, 2010:

can u use this white saurce for a chicken pie and would it taste nice with a bit of cheese in the sauce?

shyne faisal on July 05, 2010:

you have explained it beutifully.its perfect,thank you soo much.

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