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.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2004


Recipe Summary

Makes about 3 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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

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

  • 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.