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Super easy Bechamel Sauce (Salsa besciamella)

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Learn how to make this impressive silky and aromatic salsa besciamella made from milk, butter and flour. This is one of the most important sauces of French and Italian cuisine.

This ancient yet super versatile white sauce is ready just 20 minutes.

But first I would like to tell you a little bit of its history.

sauce boat with bechamel sauce

The history of salsa besciamella

You may not know this but this sauce has its origins contested, like many other ancient recipes, the answer to the question what nationality is bechamel sauce remains open, as both Italy and France fight for the title of inventors of this the bechamel sauce.

This sauce is widely known as one of the mother sauces of french cuisine, that’s why most people know as a French recipe, and base for many other sauces like Mornay and Alfredo. 

However, Salsa Besciamella as the Italians call it is a staple sauce for dishes like lasagne alle bolognese and its origins are attributed to the regions of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna in Italy.

pouring bechamel sauce on a sauce boat

This incredible white sauce is one of the most versatile sauces ever made, hence the popularity. It’s perfect for countless dishes including gratin, baked pasta and fillings. 

Let’s make this delicious sauce together?

Cooking Time

  • Cooking: 15 minutes
  • Preparation: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

Servings

  • 8 servings

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • Whisk
  • Plastic wrap

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Ingredients list

  • 2 cups (570 ml) milk, I used semi skimmed but any works
  • 2 oz (50 grams) cold butter
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 oz (50 grams) plain flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 small onion (optional)
  • 1 clove (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

ingredients to make salsa besciamella

How to make Salsa Besciamella

  1. Pour the milk in a microwave safe jug and heat for 2 minutes. Alternatively, heat in a pan over low heat to just until warm and some smoke is released. Avoid boiling. 
  2. Add salt and nutmeg, whisk and reserve.
  3. Into a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and stir until melted and starts bubbling.
  4. Once butter is fully melted, gradually add the flour, whisking non-stop.
  5. Whisk until the flour is incorporated with butter and a sandy paste has formed for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute before adding the milk.
  6. Next, pour the milk and return the pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion pique, return the pan to the heat and keep whisking.
  7. Whisk frequently over low heat until no lumps are present and a smooth thick cream has formed. Remove from the heat and fish out the pique onion.
  8. This is your salsa bechamel. For finest results, pass the sauce through a sieve, transfer to a pot and cover with a plastic wrap to avoid forming a skin
  9. Serve with pasta, in the lasagna, sandwiches, bread and more! 

Notes

  • Burning: Whisking is very important to avoid burning the sauce. Milk is a very delicate ingredient to work with, and I recommend using medium to low heat and whisk frequently.
  • In case of burning your salsa besciamella, don’t scrape out, instead, just transfer to another saucepan and continue the cooking process.
  • Pique Onion: is an optional part, but I promise it makes a difference as it adds a new layer of flavours and aroma that are just delicious.
  • Always place a plastic wrap touching the sauce, this way the sauce doesn’t form a skin.

What to serve with

You can use the Bechamel sauce in your lasagne alle bolognese, poured over spaghetti, crocque monsieur (French ham sandwich), crepes and much more.

More incredible quick dinners:

bechamel sauce over pasta

Storage

If you don’t use immediately, cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge in an airtight pot for 2 to 3 days. Before using, just return to the saucepan over low heat and whisk. Add more milk to a thinner texture.

Suitable for home freezing for up to 2 months.

 

FAQs

Is béchamel Italian or French?

The béchamel sauce, or besciamella, balsamella, bechameille, white sauce, etc is nowadays known by the French terminology béchamel. Alike many other recipes, it’s origins are uncertain to trace, but some sources indicate the bechamel sauce originate in Tuscany Italy, and brought to France where it became popular, but other legends says it was invented in France by a famous financier, Louis de Béchameil.

Is a roux and béchamel the same?

The roux is a mixture of equal quantities of flour and butter that’s heated to form a paste and used as a thickening agent in sauces and soups, whereas the Bechamel sauce is a milk based sauce made using roux.

bowl of spaghetti with sauce bechamel

Make salsa besciamella vegan and keto/low carb

To make the bechamel sauce vegan just use vegan butter of your choice.

To the low carb, replace plain flour by xathan gum.

Follow Little Pans on Instagram to learn more delicious Italian inspired recipes.

sauce boat with bechamel sauce

Super Easy Bechamel Sauce (Salsa Besciamella)

Learn how to make this impressive silky and aromatic salsa besciamella made from milk, butter and flour. This is one of the most important sauces of French and Italian cuisine.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine French, Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 105 kcal

Equipment

  • Whisk
  • Plastic wrap
  • Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups (570ml) Milk I used semi skimmed but any milk works
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 ounces flour plain
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Onion Pique

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions
 

  • Pour the milk in a microwave safe jug and heat for 2 minutes. Alternatively, heat in a pan over low heat to just until warm and some smoke is released. Avoid boiling.
  • Add salt and nutmeg, whisk and reserve.
  • Into a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and stir until melted and starts bubbling.
  • Once butter is fully melted, gradually add the flour, whisking non-stop.
  • Whisk until the flour is incorporated with butter and a sandy paste has formed for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a minute before adding the milk.
  • Next, pour the milk and return the pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion pique, return the pan to the heat and keep whisking.
  • Whisk frequently over low heat until no lumps are present and a smooth thick cream has formed. Remove from the heat and fish out the pique onion.
  • This is your salsa bechamel. For finest results, pass the sauce through a sieve, transfer to a pot and cover with a plastic wrap to avoid forming a skin
  • Serve with pasta, in the lasagna, sandwiches, bread and more!

Notes

  • Burning: Whisking is very important to avoid burning the sauce. Milk is a very delicate ingredient to work with, and I recommend using medium to low heat and whisk frequently.
  • In case of burning your salsa besciamella, don’t scrape out, instead, just transfer to another saucepan and continue the cooking process.
  • Pique Onion: is an optional part, but I promise it makes a difference as it adds a new layer of flavours and aroma that are just delicious.
  • Always place a plastic wrap touching the sauce, this way the sauce doesn’t form a skin.
  • Storage: If you don’t use immediately, cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge in an airtight pot for 2 to 3 days. Before using, just return to the saucepan over low heat and whisk. Add more milk to a thinner texture.
  • Suitable for home freezing for up to 2 months.
Keyword bechamel, besciamella, butter, flour, milk, nutmeg, sauce

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