How to make the best béchamel
The best béchamel sauce for lasagne is creamy and smooth, flavoured with aromatics that make it extra flavourful plus spiked with parmesan for a cheesy depth of flavour. Learn how to make cheese béchamel or white sauce with this easy recipe.
How to make béchamel sauce
- Combine the milk, onion, parsley stalks, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse. Strain the milk mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug. Discard solids.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until flour and butter form a paste or roux. Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes. The colour should change to a straw colour with no unmixed flour. Cook until it smells nutty and fragrant, like shortbread.
- Add half of the milk mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk until thick, don’t worry if it appears lumpy. Add the rest of the milk, whisking continuously. The sauce should appear smoother.
- Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the sauce to boil for at least 5 minutes, stirring with a spoon. This step is important or your sauce will taste floury. Your sauce should be glossy and smooth and coat the back of the spoon.
- Now if your sauce is lump free and thickened to your liking, season with salt and pepper and stir in Parmesan.
Béchamel tips and tricks
How to avoid lumps in béchamel
Use a whisk when you add milk to the roux to help to break up any lumps. Once the all the milk has been added and the sauce is simmering, you can switch to a wooden spoon. Adding the milk gradually will reduce the chances of lumps forming. Room temperature milk is not essential, but can help you get a smooth sauce. Measure out your milk and heat it for 30 secs in the microwave. Stir and repeat until it feels luke warm.
How do you fix lumpy béchamel
If your sauce is lumpy, pour through a fine mesh sieve directly into a clean saucepan.
How to thicken or thin out béchamel
If your bechamel is too thick, add milk. If it's too thin, you can reduce it by letting it simmer for longer or add more roux. Read more about how to thicken or thin out béchamel here.
What can you use instead of milk for béchamel?
If you haven’t got enough milk, you can dilute cream with water, or use a milk substitute such as almond or soy milk. You can also use low-fat milk. These will alter the flavour of the sauce, but will work the same in the recipe. You can also use stock. If you use all stock, it will turn your sauce into a veloute.
How long does béchamel last in the fridge?
Bechamel keeps in the fridge for up to one week, you can also freeze it with these steps.
Can you use black pepper in béchamel?
Yes, you can although it will give you specks of black in your sauce. To avoid this use ground white pepper instead.
What can you do with leftover béchamel?
Use béchamel in the recipes below, or use leftovers in one of these ideas.
- Add it to fish cakes or croquettes
- Stir through cooked pasta and bake for a quick mac and cheese
- Make a croque madame
- Mix with Perfect Italiano 4 Cheese Melt and dijon mustard to make Welsh rarebit
- Make a tuna melt by mixing with tuna and corn and grill on toast
Recipes with béchamel
Get the recipe: Classic Beef Lasagne
Cheese, bolognese, béchamel and pasta, you can't go wrong with this classic lasagne recipe. If you're taking the time to make it, it's worth making a double batch and freeze the other for later.