Actually Tasty Béchamel Sauce

Ellen Silverman

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 Cup  whole milk
  • 1/2 Cup  heavy cream
  • 1/4 Teaspoon  kosher salt
  •   Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5  scrapes of fresh nutmeg

Béchamel is a home-economics-class sauce. You learn to make it, but you never conceive of using it again. But a good béchamel has its place in the world, though mostly as a supporting player rather than a star. You can’t make a cheese soufflé without béchamel, some delicious lasagnas are made moist with béchamel (called besciamella in Italian), and real mac and cheese is all about the sauce, which starts with béchamel. Many béchamels are made with only milk, but I’m adding 30 percent cream because I like the depth of flavor it imparts. Don’t be tempted to add a lot of nutmeg. It’s fun to grate, but it can call unwanted attention to itself.

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Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and flour over medium-high heat and whisk to blend as the butter melts. Cook, whisking a lot, for about 1 minute. This will give the flour a nutty, rather than floury, flavor.

Pull the pan off the heat and pour in about ¼ cup of the milk. Whisk like crazy to form a smooth paste, then whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk and the cream.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently and making sure to get into the angles of the pan where the thick roux can accumulate.

Simmer, giving the sauce an occasional whisk, until smooth and glossy and no taste of flour remains, 8-10 minutes. As it simmers, be sure to scrape down the sides of the pan where the sauce builds up and whisk into the sauce; otherwise you will end up with lumps.

Add the salt, several grinds of pepper, and the nutmeg, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve right away or keep warm over low heat.

Variation: Add ¼ yellow onion and 1 fresh thyme sprig after whisking in the milk and cream. Remove before serving.

 

Notes

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The sauce does not freeze well.

Nutrition

Calories per serving:

226 calories

Dietary restrictions:

Low Carb Low Potassium, Kidney Friendly, Vegetarian, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Alcohol Free, No Oil Added, No Sugar Added

Daily value:

11%

Servings:

4
  • Fat 80g 124%
  • Carbs 35g 12%
  • Saturated 50g 250%
  • Fiber 2g 9%
  • Trans 1g
  • Sugars 19g
  • Monounsaturated 21g
  • Polyunsaturated 3g
  • Protein 14g 29%
  • Cholesterol 255mg 85%
  • Sodium 763mg 32%
  • Calcium 449mg 45%
  • Magnesium 60mg 15%
  • Potassium 551mg 16%
  • Iron 1mg 6%
  • Zinc 2mg 12%
  • Phosphorus 373mg 53%
  • Vitamin A 824µg 92%
  • Vitamin C 1mg 2%
  • Thiamin (B1) 0mg 21%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 1mg 43%
  • Niacin (B3) 1mg 7%
  • Vitamin B6 0mg 8%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 56µg 14%
  • Vitamin B12 2µg 27%
  • Vitamin D 5µg 1%
  • Vitamin E 2mg 11%
  • Vitamin K 7µg 9%
Have a question about nutritional data? Let us know.
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