Cooking basics – Béchamel

22 November, 2017

Béchamel is one of the mother sauces described by French chef Auguste Escoffier in 1903. Since then become a base and an element of many dishes all over the world.

For around 2l of béchamel:

  • 1kg white onions
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300g plain flour
  • 250g butter
  • 2l whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • salt

Equipment needed

A hob, a pot, a container for infused milk, a sieve, a whisk



The first job is to infuse a milk. For this cut an onion into big pieces and put them in the pot. Add bay leaf and cloves. Cover it up with milk and bring it to boil. Whenever you will see the first bubble take the pan off the stove and set on the side to cool down. Preferably put in the fridge when milk will drop the temperature.

Meantime prepare the roux. This is a mixture of butter and flour used for thickening the sauces. Place your empty pot on the hob and put butter inside – you can cut it into smaller cubes  to speed up the process of melting. It is very important to don’t burn the butter! Once melted add gradually the flour whisking all the time. In a couple of minutes, you should get crumble-like mass. This is the moment where you should add the milk. Take it out from the fridge and pour it slowly through the sieve whisking all the time until you will use all the milk. Cook for few minutes. You should notice that sauce is getting thicker. Take it off the hob. Season it with salt and grounded nutmeg ( or grate fresh if you have one available).

One of the most important (and giving the biggest headache) thing about the béchamel is to keep it smooth, without any lumps. To achieve it there is one very important rule that never will let you down. There has to be a big difference in the temperature between roux and milk – roux hot, milk cold or the opposite. Follow it and your sauce will be always spot on! 🙂

Congratulations! You have just finished your first mother sauce. 4 more to go. Use your béchamel as a part of your lasagne or as a base of a rich cheese sauce.

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photo: Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images