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Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce

How to make a simple Béchamel Sauce. A classic recipe that every cook should know how to make. (We also include a more complex French Béchamel recipe in our post.)

We’re back today with another Sunday Cooking Lesson – our occasional, instructional posts that provide you with more details, as well as step-by-step photos for some of the cooking techniques we use in our recipes!

Today’s lesson is how to make Béchamel Sauce – a classic creamy white sauce that can be used in so many recipes. (In fact – be sure to follow along this week because we’ll be sharing recipes over the next few days that all use béchamel as an ingredient.)

There are actually two versions of Béchamel sauce (pronounced besh-a-mel) – a classic French version which is rather complicated to make using clarified butter, sautéed onions, a long cooking process and straining through cheese cloth. (We share that recipe at the very bottom of this post in case you’d like to try it!)

THEN – there is the easy everyday version which we share here today for our Sunday Cooking Lesson. My husband Jack and I have made this recipe numerous of times over the years, and Jack always sneaks in a non-traditional seasoning – dry mustard powder – that subtly enhances the flavor of many recipes that include a Béchamel sauce.

Here is our cooking lesson:

You’ll need whole milk, butter, all-purpose flour, salt, white pepper, dry mustard and freshly grated nutmeg.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family Feast

In a medium sauce pan, heat milk to scalding but not boiling.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family Feast

In a separate, larger pan melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour to form a roux. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until it turns slightly tan and picks up a nutty smell.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family FeastSunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family Feast

Add hot milk one third at a time whipping quickly during each addition. Cook for 30 seconds before adding the second and third addition of the hot milk.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family Feast

Add seasoning and cook for five minutes over medium heat, whisking often.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family Feast

The final consistency will be creamy and slightly thick.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce - A Family Feast

As you can see from today’s Sunday Cooking Lesson – it’s very easy to make a Béchamel Sauce! And don’t forget to come back later this week for some delicious recipes using a béchamel including our White Chicken Pizza, Grilled Chicken Calzones, and our White Lasagna Chicken Rollups.

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce (Easy Version)
 
Serves: 1 quart
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat milk to scalding but not boiling.
  2. In a larger pan melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour to form a roux. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until it turns slightly tan and picks up a nutty smell.
  3. Add hot milk one third at a time whipping quickly during each addition. Cook for 30 seconds before adding the second and third addition of the hot milk.
  4. Add seasoning and cook for five minutes over medium whipping often. The final consistency will be creamy and slightly thick.

Classic French Béchamel Sauce adapted from The Professional Chef (Affiliate link.)
Sunday Cooking Lesson: Béchamel Sauce (Classic French Version)
 
Serves: 3½ quarts
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Adapted from The Professional Chef
Ingredients
  • 1 cup clarified butter
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 fluid ounces clarified butter
  • 2 ounces minced onions
  • 4½ quarts whole milk
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Grated nutmeg
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauté pan melt over medium heat, add clarified butter and once hot, stir in flour with a wooden spoon. Heat and stir for about three minutes to form a “white roux”. The color will be barley colored and chalky. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat milk to scalding but do not boil.
  3. In a larger pan, heat two tablespoons of clarified butter over low to moderate heat and add onions. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the white roux from the first step and stir to combine. Cook until very hot, about two minutes.
  5. Add the hot milk one third at a time, whisking during each addition. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.
  6. Add seasoning to taste.
  7. Strain through a double cheese cloth and serve or hold refrigerated for other sauces or dishes.

 

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