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Bechamel (white) Sauce

There has always been conflicting advice and discussion about when and how to add the milk to avoid lumpy sauce. I have found this version where the cold milk is whisked into the melted butter and flour OFF the heat, then re-heated to finish cooking after all is smooth and blended. It takes the panic out of the moment when adding the milk to hot flour and butter, which ends the debate.


  • 1/2 cup butter (120 grams)

  • 1/2 cup flour (70 grams)

  • 5 cups milk  (1250 ml)

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • Pinch of nutmeg

Melt the butter on low heat in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook without browning for at least 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the cold milk a little at a time until smooth. After the sauce is smooth and blended, return to the stove and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is thickened. Do not allow to boil, simmer very gently for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.


The critical process for a successful sauce is to cook the flour and butter at a low heat for the full five minutes in the beginning. Do not hurry that step or the surface of the flour granules will be hardened, and then they cannot absorb the liquids as they should to thicken and hold the entire sauce without breaking.

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