This small batch Béchamel sauce recipe is perfect for one meal. No extra sauce or worrying about leftovers!
Béchamel sauce may be one of the most versatile sauces you will make in the kitchen. It provides the basis for all kinds of dishes and is super easy to make.
More commonly known as white sauce in the US, béchamel sauce is a very simple mixture of butter, flour, and milk.
Initially, the butter and flour are cooked together to form a 'roux'. Once the roux has been cooked gently for a couple of minutes, the milk is slowly added.
The result is a smooth, creamy sauce that can be simply seasoned with salt and pepper, or mixed with other herbs or ingredients to create a wide range of flavors.
Is Béchamel a Mother Sauce?
A 'mother sauce' is one of the five sauces that are the foundation for all other sauces, of which béchamel is one.
If you know how to make all five of the mother sauces, then you are well on the way to making whatever sauce your heart desires, just by adding other ingredients!
It's another great reason to get comfortable with making a simple béchamel sauce! You'll use the technique over and over.
What Are the Five Mother Sauces?
- Béchamel - the white, creamy sauce for which you'll find a recipe below
- Espagnole - a brown sauce made with a brown stock and a brown roux, usually used for meats
- Veloute - a white sauce thickened with roux, but made with a white stock (usually chicken, fish or veal)
- Hollandaise - a rich sauce made with egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, and butter (perfect with Eggs Benedict!)
- Tomato - classically made with tomatoes cooked in pork fat with stock and seasonings, traditionally thickened with roux (although modern recipes no longer include the roux)
What to Do with Béchamel Sauce
So if béchamel is considered a 'foundation' sauce, just what else can you do with it? Here are some ideas:
Make macaroni cheese!
Just add plenty of cheese (you can use cheddar, fontina, Gorgonzola, ricotta - or any blend you like.
The choice is yours! Pour the cheesy sauce over cooked macaroni and bake it in the oven for a warming and comforting meal.
You might like to try this Barefoot Contessa Mac and Cheese Recipe too.
Make a simple fish pie.
.Mix pieces of your favorite fish in a baking dish - a mixture of white fish, salmon, and even smoked fish is ideal.
Stir in some cooked vegetables, then pour your béchamel sauce over the top. Finish off with a layer of mashed potato and top with grated cheese, then bake until golden.
Here is another British Fish Pie recipe to try.
Make a vegetable bake.
Chop your favorite root vegetables and place them in a baking dish, then top with the sauce and finish with a layer of creamy mashed potato.
Bake for 40 minutes. For a fuller flavor, add Parmesan cheese - you can either stir it into the sauce or use it as a topping to sprinkle over the mashed potato.
How to Store Béchamel Sauce
Keep it in the refrigerator with a sheet of wax paper on the top to stop a skin from forming. It will last for up to a week.
Alternatively, you can freeze it - just place it into zip-top bags and lay them flat in the freezer, where they will keep for up to 3 months.