White sauce, sometimes known as a roux, or béchamel, forms the basis of many popular dishes.
White sauce is incredibly easy to make and requires just three key ingredients – butter, plain flour, and whole milk. We’ve kept it simple with our recipe for a basic white sauce, but you could add a couple of bay leaves with the milk when heating for extra flavour, just remember to remove them after cooking. Used as a delicious in-between layer for lasagne or poured over a scrumptious fish pie, the white sauce can also be added to chicken and pasta dishes.
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 600ml whole milk
- whole nutmeg, for grating
Melt the butter slowly in a saucepan. Stir in the flour to make a paste. For best results, sift the flower through a sieve to prevent lumps. Cook the paste for 2 minutes, then season well with salt and pepper.
Gradually add in the cold milk, stirring until smooth. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until thickened (it will take at least 5 minutes).
Season and add freshly grated nutmeg.
Top tips for making this white sauce recipe
For a fish pie, swap half the milk for fish stock, and for chicken pie swap with chicken stock and 100ml white wine. To make a cheese sauce, add 100g grated Cheddar cheese and 1tbsp wholegrain mustard to the basic white sauce.
How to make a vegan white sauce
This classic white sauce can be easily adapted to suit a vegan diet by replacing the diary-based ingredients. Swap 600ml whole milk for 600ml unsweetened oat, pea, or soy milk. The 50g butter can be swapped for a 50g of vegan spread instead.
Can white sauce be frozen?
Once the sauce has completely cooled to room temperature spoon into a freezer bag. It’s best to store in portion sizes as it's quicker to defrost. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge. You will need to reheat the sauce gently once defrosted on the hob and may need to add a knob of butter too.
Can you use self-raising flour for white sauce?
It’s best to avoid using self-raising flour and opt for other flours instead such as coconut flour, almond flour, or whole wheat flour if you don’t have access to plain flour. Self-raising flour contains baking powder and salt which can have an impact on the taste and texture of the sauce.
Is white sauce gluten-free?
Substitute the plain flour in this recipe for gluten-free flour instead like brown rice flour, oat flour, or almond flour.