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White Sauce

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Conceptmap-white sauce.png


This OER enables you to:

  • explain what is white sauce or Béchamel sauce and describe the components of Béchamel sauce
  • prepare Béchamel sauce
  • check quality characteristics of the sauce and identify problems & their causes if any
  • name the derivatives of Béchamel sauce


Sam and Sheela were invited by their friend Tina who had good culinary skills. At the end of the meal, Sheela asked Tina, “The meal that you cooked for us was as usual, really good. Sam especially liked the pasta that you had prepared. It was coated with this very creamy white sauce. You must tell me how you made that sauce. I hope to try it out sometime”

Tina responded to the compliment from her friend with a smile & said, “Thank you Sheela. That was a basic white sauce which can accompany or coat different foods. In fact I had used it to thicken the Cream of Tomato soup too. I’ll tell you how I made it. By the way, it is also called Béchamel sauce”

Sheela , “Tina, I think I’ll visit you someday when it would be convenient for both of us, so that you can tell me more about this sauce which has multiple uses.” A very enthusiastic Tina says,”How about next Saturday? “ Sheela accepts the invitation, & looks forward to meeting Tina so as to learn more about Béchamel sauce which she & Sam liked so much. When they meet, Tina hopes to share her knowledge with her friend Sheela:

Sauces are thickened liquids which may complement or contrast the flavor or texture of items with which they are served. White sauce or Béchamel sauce is a foundation sauce or mother sauce or basic sauce, which has varied uses. It could be used to thicken cream soups. This sauce can be incorporated into recipes that contain vegetables, meat, chicken, seafood, & even pasta. A thicker Béchamel sauce could bind croquettes. It can be used with other ingredients to prepare derivative sauces. The derivative sauces would create greater variety of flavor & colour when served along with items on menus. Béchamel sauce should conform to specific quality characteristics in terms of colour, consistency & flavor.

What is Béchamel sauce?

Béchamel sauce is a hot sauce , which consists of hot milk, thickened with a cooked mixture of equal quantities of butter and refined flour cooked to the first stage roux (which has a cooked flavor but no coloration), and is flavored with onion studded with clove, and bayleaf .

Components of a Béchamel sauce

Butter.jpeg butter Refined flour.jpegrefined flour
Milk in a mug.jpegmilk Studded onion.jpegstudded onion
Butter: Refined Flour: Milk in the proportion of 1 : 1: 10

Butter + Refined flour + Milk + Onion studded with clove (studded onion),and bayleaf = Bechamel sauce

How do I prepare Béchamel sauce?

Step-1 Step-2 Step-3 Step-4 Step-5 Step-6
Melt butter, add refined flour, and prepare a first stage roux which has a white, sandy texture Boil milk with studded onion and bayleaf, simmer for 5 to 10 min Remove studded onion and gradually add the milk to the roux, beating out any lumps. Simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon till it lightly coats the back of the spoon, and gives a cooked flavour. Strain through a conical strainer into a clean bowl, so as to remove any lumps, and use as required. Béchamel sauce is ready

Melt butter.jpeg Roux.jpeg Step-1

Boil milk.jpegStep-2 Add milk.jpegStep-3

Back of the spoon.jpeg Step-4Bechamel sauce.jpegStep-5

Béchamel sauce is a foundation sauce or basic sauce and hence seasonings are not added
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How could I describe a perfect Béchamel sauce?

Qualities of bechamel sauce.png

Why is the Béchamel sauce that I made not perfect? What do I do??

Problem Why it may have happened How can I rectify it Lumpy sauce a)milk added too fast b)more flour than butter c)roux on the edges not mixed Pass the sauce through a conical strainer Curdled sauce Overcooked Cannot be corrected Sauce not white in colour, but darker or discolored a)aluminum utensil used b)roux overcooked , hence darker coloured Cannot be rectified

Taste of raw flour Roux not cooked adequately Cook Béchamel sauce with constant stirring Very thick consistency a)excess quantity of flour used b)less amount of milk used Add more milk and cook stirring continuously

How can I use Béchamel sauce to prepare derivative sauces?

Addition of certain ingredients could modify the basic Béchamel sauce introducing a different colour, flavor and sometimes adding a new texture, thus creating a variety in its use. Some of the derivative sauces are:

Sr.No Name of sauce Add these to Béchamel sauce Use with
1. Cheese sauce or Sauce Mornay grated cheese cream +seasoning vegetables, pasta, fish
2. Onion sauce Sliced onions cooked in butter(without change in color), finished with cream Roast mutton
3. Egg sauce Diced hard boiled eggs butter +cream Fish which is boiled or poached
4. Parsley sauce Chopped, blanched parsley Boiled vegetables , fish


Now may I check how much have you understood?

A.The following is a list of ingredients. Select the correct ingredients that can be used for preparing Bechamel or White Sauce and put each into the boxes given below:- a) Studded onion b) Carrots c) Milk d) Cauliflower e) Butter f) Oil g) Spinach h) Refined flour i) Whole wheat flour j) Cheese

Ans:a),c),e)and h)

Points added for a correct answer:  
Points for a wrong answer:
Ignore the questions' coefficients:

1. The roux prepared for Béchamel sauce should be cooked to :

Fawn colored, sandy texture
Sandy, no coloration
Thinner, brown

2. A good quality sauce would be :

Fawn colored, smooth and thin
Creamy white, smooth and thin
Creamy white, smooth and thick coating consistency

3. The proportion of Fat: Flour: Milk in Béchamel sauce is,


Your score is 0 / 0


Béchamel sauce is a foundation sauce which has varied uses. This sauce, being a basic sauce, is seasoned when incorporated into different recipes. It is a creamy white, smooth, thick sauce of pouring consistency. If the main ingredients are used in the correct proportion, and the recipe is followed correctly, the resultant sauce would conform to the ideal qualities of a perfect sauce. In case of any problems, the cause could be identified so that it could be rectified if possible. Variations of the basic sauce can be prepared by addition of other ingredients, thus varying its use.

Inkpot.png Assignments

  • You could seek more information:
  1. Access more information from websites and the library for recipes of Béchamel sauce, and its uses.
  2. Try and prepare Béchamel sauce and incorporate it into recipes.
  3. Try and create innovative methods of using Béchamel sauce into food preparation.
  • Prepare a Béchamel sauce and check the qualities with the ideal one. Find out the reasons for non perfection if any.

A very grateful Sheela says “Thank you very much Tina, for this very enjoyable and interesting session that we had. You have motivated me to prepare Béchamel sauce and also encouraged me to become innovative so that I can incorporate it into varied recipes. When you come over for a meal to my place, I assure you that you will be very happy about this knowledge you have shared with me” Tina responds with a smile “Hope that happens soon.”