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Simple Cream Bechamel Sauce

A simple cream bechamel sauce recipe made using only six ingredients and infused with the flavors of rich butter, smooth cream, and aromatic nutmeg.

In our kitchen, we have been making bechamel sauces for a long time. They are the perfect blend of a hearty roux and luscious flavor.

Furthermore, a good bechamel can be the base for a multitude of different dishes.

For example, both our homemade cheese sauce and our cajun alfredo sauce start with bechamel. Once you master this easy sauce, your cooking skills can take flight.

The key to a great bechamel is to make sure you don’t break the sauce. If you have read my posts, then you have heard me talk about this a lot.

Breaking the sauce occurs when the mixture is heated to such a high temperature that the fat separates and forms into little globules that stick to your fork. As a result, the bechamel loses its creamy texture and the flavors separate.

Two bowls of pasta tossed in white sauce.

Needless to say, it’s pretty unappealing. The best way to keep the pasta sauce from separating is to heat it slowly and keep it moving.

I prefer to use a whisk. You can make faster strokes with your wrist, and the wires break up the flour and butter causing them to blend with the cream and milk.

Once the bechamel is properly cooked, it will be silky and can be flavored using a variety of spices. Since I had planned on making an alfredo sauce with this base, I chose to only season it with nutmeg.

Which, by the way, made an awesome sauce. It was so good; I prepared some spaghetti noodles for a tasty pasta dish. In closing, this recipe might take some practice to master.

However, just remember, once mastered a great bechamel can be eaten as is or become a vehicle for tons of other recipes, like creamed spinach.

So, I hope you enjoy today’s offering from our kitchen. It is truly a labor of love.

How to Make a Simple Cream Bechamel Sauce:

A simple cream bechamel sauce can be tricky, but it’s certainly not out of anyone’s league to learn. First, in a small stockpot or large saucepan add the butter to melt on low to medium-low heat.

After the butter has completely melted, add the flour and let the mixture cook for about 1 minute, so the flour taste cooks out. You are creating a roux which will thicken the sauce.

Remember, the longer you cook a roux, the thinner the sauce will become.

For example, gumbo tends to be somewhat thin when compared to a gravy. This because the roux is cooked until it is golden brown.

Collage style photo showing how to make simple cream bechamel sauce.

We are not going for that thin texture. We want a cream sauce.

Next combine the milk, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg with the cooked flour roux. Make sure to stir in each ingredient using a whisk or wooden spoon.

Let the sauce cook for an addition 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat.

As time passes, the sauce will begin to thicken. Do not let it come to a boil or the bechamel will break!

Continue to stir the sauce as it cooks to the desired consistency. If you’re using this recipe as a base for another sauce, like a cheese sauce or alfredo, you may want to remove it from the heat before it becomes completely thick.

Any additional cheese will melt and thicken the sauce as well. Just something to keep in mind if this dish is just a base for another recipe.

Top down view of noodles in white sauce sprinkled with nutmeg.

Once the sauce has reached the thickness, you desire, taste test it and add salt and pepper as needed. I listed the amounts that I use in the recipe, but it’s totally up to you.

Now that you have a completed bechamel sauce feel free to serve it over a bed of pasta, use it a dipping sauce, add parmesan cheese to it for an alfredo, use some of it to thicken soups, etc. You get the idea.

All in all, it is a “moderate” level recipe for a beginner cook, but if you can learn it, you will be that much better in the kitchen.  

After you’ve mastered the basic bechamel sauce, you’ll be able to make Smoky Chipotle Chicken Pasta or Baked Macaroni and Cheese with ease.

Noodles tossed with simple bechamel sauce in a dish.

Simple Cream Bechamel Sauce

4.4 from 15 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 5 Servings

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk whole or 2%
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat.
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Add the flour to melted butter and let cook for about 1 minute.
    5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • To cooked flour mixture, add milk, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Let simmer on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes while stirring.
    1 cup milk
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • When sauce reaches desired thickness, remove from heat and serve over pasta or add use as base thickener for other recipes.
  • Can be stored in sealed container in refrigerator for up 2 days.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of .5 cups of sauce. Actual calories will vary.
 
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 132mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1129IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Recipe Rating




Danielle Yero

Friday 2nd of September 2022

This recipe was amazing! I adapted it to what I had in the kitchen. I was missing ricotta cheese so I substituted cream cheese mixed with almond milk. I was also missing milk, so I substituted 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 almond milk. I also substituted with Gluten Free Jovial Lasagna Noodles and did not add meat.

OMG this recipe was amazing!!! Incredible!

Chérie Sullivan

Saturday 24th of October 2020

Can I freeze this sauce and if so how long? Ty!!

John

Saturday 24th of October 2020

Good Morning Cherie, that's a good question. I wouldn't recommend it. While it shouldn't harm you to properly store it in your freezer for 30 days or so, it will affect the flavor and texture of the sauce (when reheated). Cream based sauces, when frozen, will separate. Once reheated they end up with a bland flavor and a grainy texture. So, in short, yes you can freeze it (for up to 30 days), but it will ruin the sauce when it's reheated. I hope this information helps and Kim and I wish you a lovely day :)

David Sabatelli

Tuesday 18th of April 2017

Thank you for the recipe. I don’t usually make a Bechamel sauce but you convinced me to give it a try.

John

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

Thank you, David! I am glad you liked the recipe and I hope you get the chance to make it. It's easy once you get a little practice :)

David Sabatelli

Tuesday 18th of April 2017

Thank you for the recipe. I don’t usually make a Bechamel sauce but you convinced me to give it a try.

David Sabatelli

Tuesday 18th of April 2017

Thank you for the recipe. I don’t usually make a Bechamel sauce but you convinced me to give it a try.