SNS 008| "Culinary School" Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel is a classic French sauce made with milk. It is one of the Five French Mother Sauces and is used to make derivatives such as Mornay (a simple cheese sauce).

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There are 9 Comments

wineman's picture

Hi Chef Burton.  First let me thank you for producing  I am an avid reader and have found your site to be both helpful and entertaining.  With respect to your bechamel sauce, I wonder if you could speak to it's "shelf-life", especially as it relates to using it to create other sauces.  Thanks and keep up the great work!

jacob burton's picture

It should last for about a week in your refrigerator. To re-heat, I would recommend bringing some fresh milk to a simmer at the bottom of a sauce pot, whisking in small portions of the bechamel until it's completely combined and comes back to a simmer. This will keep the sauce from scorching on the bottom of the pot.

The sauce can also be held on the back of your stove for a couple of hours before serving it or turning it into a secondary sauce. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce's surface to keep a skin from forming.

wineman's picture

for the prompt reply!

Nina's picture

  I've been taught to do this backwards where you add the warm milk to the roux.  Your way makes more sense since you can store a roux for quite some time.  The addition of the onion and clove is also new to me. 

"People who love to eat are always the best people." -- Julia Child

jacob burton's picture

@ Nina,

This is just one of many ways to make Bechamel, but it is the most common form taught in culinary schools today. Bechamel actually started off as a stock based sauce that was thickened with the addition of cream. Later Escoffier turned it into a milk based sauce, but would dice the onions and cook them in butter with chunks of veal.

Now days, bechamel is pretty much synonomous with any simple milk sauce that is thickened with a white roux.

Mrs. Yoder's picture

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your website and these wonderful videos! I'm teaching a cooking/baking course to our local homeschool co-op and I wanted to give them a good grounding of the basics that I learned in school. A little French vocabulary, the mother sauces, how to properly cook vegetables, fruits & meats, etc. This website is one I plan to use with my students and I'll have them reference your wonderful videos at home each week to further supplement what they learned. I'm even picking up a couple of things that my own teacher (went through CIA in the 70's) didn't teach us or didn't know himself. For instance, he didn't tell us anything about the original bechamel that Escoffier made and the differences between that and the modern sauce we have now. It's really fascinating stuff!

Thanks again for this wonderful free resource!

Gabrielle Yoder

jacob burton's picture

Thanks Mrs. Yoder. Glad you and your students are finding the information helpful. Welcome to Stella Culinary!

Mack-the-knife's picture

I am new to this website. I hope to learn a lot from it. I have always struggled with digesting written text so I am hoping that the videos will help answer most of my questions. Today I made a béchamel sauce but it is not going to be served until this evening. I don't think I let it simmer for long enough as it still has a bit of flour taste to it. I am worried that if I leave it too long the sauce will thicken down to nothing, or boil over I have had that before many times. I only used 300ml (half pint) of milk to start with as I didn't need much sauce. At the end I had to add extra milk as the mixture was way too thick. In truth it probably still is but we prefer it thicker rather than thinner. The recipe I followed (sort of) suggested mustard. I used a teaspoon of English mustard. Even this small amount was too much as it can clearly be tasted above everything else. I'll let you know what the family think later.

Thanks for making this information available to likes of me.

jacob burton's picture

Hey Mack,

Welcome to Stella Culinary.

In the future, if you need to bring back a cold, thick, bechamel, start by simmering a little milk in a pot, and stir in the cold bechamel, one spoonful at a time. Once it's fully incorporated, continue to simmer until it reaches the thickness you desire.

Please let me know if you have any questions as you work your way through the Stella Culinary content.