Step by step instructions for How to Make a 3-Ingredient Simple White Sauce. Use it as a base for other sauces, in casseroles, stews, mac and cheese and much more.
White sauce is used as a base for various other sauces (such as cheese or vegetable) and today I am going to show you How to Make a 3-Ingredient Simple White Sauce. Whether Italian or French (its origin can be traced to both countries though the name ‘bechamel’, as it’s also called, suggests it’s French but let’s not worry about that) the simple white sauce and its various adaptations are popular in many cuisines and for good reason. You can use this sauce as a thickener, it also keeps the other ingredients moist, enhances flavour and adds richness. (Without necessarily too many calories).
How to make a simple 3-ingredient white sauce
This simple white sauce recipe contains only 3 ingredients: butter, flour and milk (which, when combined, can only produce one colour – white!). And the only ‘tricky’ bit to making it successfully is knowing which ingredient comes first, second and third. Because if you use the wrong sequence your sauce is likely to be lumpy.
So it’s important to start off with the butter, then add the flour, then the milk. In that order!
Seasoning is optional in this white sauce recipe and depends on how you are going to use it. I recommend adding some seasoning if you aren’t planning to add any other ingredients to the sauce (such as spices or herbs).
Many white sauce recipes recommend infusing the milk prior to making the sauce by adding raw onion, nutmeg, fresh parsley, peppercorns, cloves or other ingredients. The mixture is then brought to simmering point, strained and the flavourings discarded. I think that this is a good idea with many dishes but it’s not absolutely necessary to do. You can always add herbs and spices to the sauce itself. (Bear in mind that this, however, might affect the colour of the sauce). My aim is to show you the right technique (one that’s always worked for me) of making a simple white sauce. The choice of any additional ingredients is yours.
How to adapt this simple white sauce to suit your recipe
For example, in my Turkey Meatballs with Butternut Squash Spaghetti I added a bit of fenugreek to this sauce. I also added a bit of fromage frais for a richer, creamier consistency.
This Low Fat Spinach Macaroni Cheese is a good example of how other ingredients can affect the appearance of this white pasta sauce. You guessed it, it’s bright green!
In this Buckwheat Macaroni Cheese recipe I added cream cheese and a bit of mustard to the sauce for sharpness.
My Low Fat Mushroom Chicken Recipe contains another variation of the simple white sauce. I swapped butter for oil and added wine to the sauce but the basic method is the same. Start off with the fat, then add the flour, then the other ingredients.
These are just a few examples of how you can make this sauce work for you. This basic white sauce recipe is super flexible and versatile. You can adapt it to suit your dish.
The proportions in this simple white sauce recipe make a moderately thick sauce. Not too runny but not too thick either. If you need a runnier or thicker consistency simply add a little less or more flour (± 5 g). If you don’t use your sauce straight away it may become too thick. Add a splash of milk and heat it up again whisking all the time.
*Note: It’s essential that you use a whisk to make this sauce. If you use a spoon the sauce will be lumpy.
How To Make a 3-Ingredient Simple White Sauce
- 400 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 30 g butter
- 25 g flour
- Salt and white pepper to taste, optional
- In a saucepan melt the butter (on a low heat, taking care not to brown it). Add the flour and combine using a whisk. Once the mixture has thickened gradually add the milk stirring with the whisk all the time. You can increase the heat a little to speed things up, but whisk continuously to prevent lumps from forming and the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Once all the milk has been added season and simmer gently for about 3 minutes, stirring all the time. If you don't use the sauce immediately it will thicken after a while. Just add a bit of milk when you are ready to use it and heat it up gently stirring all the time (you may have to adjust the seasoning too).
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SIMPLE WHITE SAUCE RECIPES
Check out ALL my recipes where I’ve used this simple white sauce. You won’t believe how versatile it is!
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