How to Make White Sauce

Updated on September 23, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

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

White Sauce

A lovely smooth white sauce
A lovely smooth white sauce | Source

Nothing Beats Thickened 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 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. And 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 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 or 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.

Truly, the sky is the limit and imaginative cooks find many uses for basic white sauce and its for fancier counterparts, adding both taste and texture to many foods. It's the go-to base for sauces, fillings, gravies, and toppers.

What Goes into White Sauce?

• 1-2 tsp.butter

• 1-2 tsp. flour

• 1 cup milk

So Simple, Yet So Good

As can be seen, white sauce is made with just a few simple everyday ingredients. If you've never made it, read on for tips and tricks, and soon, you'll be making it like a pro.

Method for Making White Sauce

1. Melt butter in 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 heat until mixture is gently bubbling.

5. Continue cooking and stirring until white sauce is thickened. The stirring is key to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

Cooking Tip

Keep stirring so milk doesn't stick to bottom of pan and burn.

Can Be Made in Minutes

White sauce recipe
White sauce recipe | Source

Did You Know?

The French name for white sauce is Bechamel.

How to Adjust Texture and Amount

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.

Rather Easy

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.

The Final Result. Doesn't This Look Lovely?

Thickened White Sauce
Thickened White Sauce | Source

Why Use a Whisk?

I recommend using a whisk when making white sauce, as this does an excellent job of eliminating lumps.

Velvety Smooth

As can be seen from the 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.

Want a Visual?

Now, that you've read through the steps for making white sauce, you may wish to see this in action. The videos below give a good overview and show how simple this process is.

Video Part 1

  • The butter is melted before adding the flour.
  • The flour is mixed and cooked into the butter mixture.

Video Part 2

The milk is added, and as can be seen stirring is important. If you don't have a whisk and are worried about lumps, strain mixture through a metal strainer or sieve.

Tips for a Perfect White Sauce

• 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

• Adjust liquid amounts for a thinner or thicker sauce

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

Making a Large Batch of White Sauce


Have You Ever Made a White Sauce?

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Serving Suggestions

  • Use white sauce as a base for scalloped potatoes.
  • Ladle white sauce 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 white sauce as the basis for creamed soups
  • Use white sauce to make creamed peas.
  • Make a creamy chicken gravy by making 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.

White Sauce Over Scalloped Potatoes

A white sauce adds to scalloped potatoes
A white sauce adds to scalloped potatoes | Source

Cooked White Sauce on Scalloped Potatoes


Going Beyond Basic White Sauce

A basic white sauce is good enough on its own and may be preferred as a topping or as a casserole filling, depending on what you will be using it for; however, once you've made white sauce a time or two, you may wish to expand on your efforts. The section below discusses different ingredients that can be added to white sauce, when you wish to go beyond a basic sauce.

Seasoning Your White 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 sauteing sliced mushrooms in butter and then adding them to 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.

Making cheese sauce
Making cheese sauce | Source

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.



Have You Ever Made a Cheese Sauce?

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Serving Suggestions for Cheese Sauce

© 2009 Athlyn Green


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    • profile image

      heart storms 

      2 years ago

      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.


    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 

      6 years ago from Yorkshire


      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 profile image


      7 years ago


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

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

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

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Handyman,

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

    • handymanbill profile image


      7 years ago from western pennsylvania

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

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      7 years ago from West Kootenays

      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.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Just like my mom taught me very good indeed

    • profile image

      Glenys Little 

      7 years ago

      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.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      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.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

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

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      8 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Wayseeker,

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

    • wayseeker profile image


      8 years ago from Colorado


      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      8 years ago from West Kootenays

      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.

    • profile image

      Vicki and Bec 

      8 years ago

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      9 years ago from West Kootenays

      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.

    • profile image

      hayley hermitage 

      9 years ago

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

    • profile image

      shyne faisal 

      9 years ago

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


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