Béchamel Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    2½ cups

Appears in

Hazan Family Favorites

Hazan Family Favorites

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 2012

  • About

In Italian this is called besciamella, and the dispute as to whether it was the Italians or the French who invented it will probably never be resolved. It is a white sauce that is quite commonly used in Emilia-Romagna, particularly in baked pasta dishes. It is easy enough that a child can make it (with supervision), and our kids have become quite proficient at it.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Put the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until steam is released when the milk is stirred, just before it boils.
  2. While the milk is heating, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour, mixing it in with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Do not let the flour brown.
  3. When the milk is hot, transfer it to a measuring cup or pitcher with a spout. Return the pan with the flour mixture to medium heat and begin adding the hot milk, very slowly at first, mixing with the whisk. Do not be concerned if the mixture becomes quite thick at first. Continue adding the milk slowly while mixing with the whisk. As the consistency becomes thinner, you can add the milk more rapidly until all of it has been mixed in.
  4. Add the salt and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken, 10 to 15 minutes. The sauce is done when it coats the whisk thickly. Béchamel is best when used the same day but will keep overnight in the refrigerator if necessary. Its not necessary to reheat it before using.