Béchamel—Basic White Sauce

Béchamel is one of the sauces of French classic cuisine. It is a basic white sauce that has many uses, including forming the base of macaroni and cheese

Serves: 6Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 45 minutesDifficulty: Easy

Serves: 6


  • 2 whole cloves
  • ¼ medium onion, peeled
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper


  • Poke the cloves into the quarter onion.
  • Put the milk in a saucepan with the onion and bay leaf, heat to scalding (not quite boiling), and then turn off the heat. Let the mixture steep for 15 minutes. Remove onion and bay leaf.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Gradually add the hot milk, whisking to smooth out lumps. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer until thickened, 10–20 minutes. Stir frequently during simmering to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Strain finished sauce to remove any lumps.