Simple Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel is one of the five mother sauces in classic French cooking, but it’s not just for French food. It’s the base for a lot of creamy Italian pasta sauces, gratins, our favorite blue cheese sauce, and even nachos. There are a lot of recipes online, but we’ve come up with something so simple and easy to remember it will become second nature.

We jokingly refer to our bechamel as “2-2-2-bechamel,” but it’s actually that simple. You only need a few supplies to whip up a perfect bechamel in minutes. First, you’ll need a good saucepan. Our favorites are this, this, and this. However, we recently got this saucier (c/o) from All-Clad’s new line with Thomas Keller and it’s exceeded our expectations. We love the ergonomics and the brushed finish. The other essential you’ll need is a good whisk. We’ve found that whisks that are more tapered like this, this, or this work better than a balloon whisk for this recipe and give you more control.

A Simple Bechamel Sauce is a great basic essential for other dishes
A Simple Bechamel Sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon

To make the bechamel, melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, then add two tablespoons of flour. Whisk the flour into the butter until it is smooth and starts to thicken. Next, while whisking constantly, add two cups of milk gradually, in small additions, letting each addition of milk warm before adding the next. We have multiple sets of these flexible measuring cups for measuring and pouring liquids and can’t recommend them highly enough. Once all of the milk is incorporated and there are no lumps, increase the heat slightly to bring to a simmer and whisk occasionally until the sauce thickens.

Once your bechamel is thickened, you can proceed to use it however you wish. Check out our recipe for a simple blue cheese sauce here that we like to serve with beef tenderloin, add a few tablespoons of taleggio cheese or shaved truffles or truffle oil for a rich pasta sauce, or grate in a mixture of monterey jack and cheddar to make a cheese dip.

Simple Bechamel Sauce
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Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan or saucier, and add two tablespoons of flour. Whisk the flour into the butter until smooth, and heat until it begins to thicken.
  2. Add the milk to the pan in small additions, whisking constantly, allowing each addition of milk to warm before adding the next. Once all the milk is added, increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a simmer.
  3. Simmer the sauce until it thickens, whisking occasionally to make sure it does not scorch.

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