Bechamel Sauce for Lasagna

3 cups

One of the mother sauces of French cuisine, béchamel is a true classic. This simple white sauce made with milk, butter, and flour is the basis of other sauces and used in many recipes, like our Lasagna Bolognese. A secret to success with a béchamel sauce recipe is to cook the roux long enough to avoid a floury taste, but don't let it brown. Another tip: whisking constantly while adding flour, then milk, prevents lumps from forming.


  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 ½ cups milk, heated just until steaming

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt

  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Melt butter in a heavy-bottom, medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes; do not let roux brown.

  2. Whisking constantly, add about 2 tablespoons hot milk to saucepan.

  3. Pour half of the remaining hot milk into the saucepan in small increments, whisking the mixture constantly, until a smooth paste forms.

  4. Whisk remaining milk into pan; add nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape bottom and sides, until sauce is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes; if any lumps form, stir sauce rapidly with a whisk. Season with pepper; remove from heat. Let sauce stand until lukewarm, about 30 minutes, before assembling lasagna.

Cook's Notes

This sauce is best used fresh, but it can be made 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water before using.

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