Béchamel Sauce - Definition and Recipes

Definition: Name of a white sauce composed of reduced chicken broth with some essence of mushrooms, an equal quantity of rich milk or cream, boiled up, thickened with flour and butter, seasoned with salt, lemon juice and grated nutmeg, then strained for use.

Preparing Bechamel Sauce

This is made by preparing a roux of butter and flour, and letting it cook for a few minutes while stirring, not allowing it to color in the slightest; remove it to a slower fire and leave it to continue cooking for a quarter of an hour, then dilute it gradually with half-hoilcd milk and half veal blond.

Stir the liquid on the fire until it boils, then mingle in with it a mirepoix of roots and onions, fried separately in butter, some mushroom peelings and a bunch of parsley; set it on a slower fire and let it cook for twenty-five minutes without ceasing to stir, so as to avoid its adhering to the bottom; it must be rather more consistent than light.

Strain it through a fine sieve through a tammy into a vessel, and allow it to cool off while continuing to stir; set it aside for further use.

History of Bechamel Sauce

Originally, this sauce was a velouté reduced with cream; big chunks of veal were cooked in the sauce, and its preparation was all except economic.

Modern practice proceeds more systematically. béchamel is today neither more nor less than a cream sauce. It is more wholesome than velouté, and is prepared with boiled milk, although a part of cream may be used. The same directions as for Velouté may be followed.

Simmer the sauce gently for 1 1/2. to 2 hours, flavor with a faggot of herbs, 2 onions, one of them stuck with 3 cloves, and 1 carrot. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar; strain and put aside for further use.


Quantities Required for Four Quarts.

  • 1 lb. of white roux.
  • ½  oz. of salt,
  • 1 pinch of mignonette, and grated nutmeg, and I small sprig of thyme.
  • 1 minced onion.
  • 4 1/2 quarts of boiling milk.
  • ½ lb. of lean veal.
  • Pour the boiling milk on the roux, which should be almost cold, and whisk it well so as to avoid lumps.
  • Let it boil, then cook on the side of the fire.
  • Meanwhile the lean veal should have been cut into small cubes, and fried with butter in a saucepan, together with the minced onion.
  • When the veal has stiffened without becoming colored, it is added to the Béchamel, together with salt and the other aromatics.
  • Let the sauce boil slowly for about one hour in all and then pass it through a tammy into a tureen; butter the top, lest a crust should form.
  • When Béchamel is intended for Lenten preparations, the veal must be omitted.
  • There is another way of making the sauce:  After having boiled the milk, the  seasoning and aromatics should be added; the saucepan is then covered and placed on a corner of the stove, so as to ensure a thorough infusion. The boiling milk
  • must now be poured on to the roux which has been separately prepared, and the sauce should then cook for one quarter of an hour only.

Béchamel Sauce à l’Ancienne

Remove the noir from a fillet of veal, and cut up the remainder in 2-inch dice; put these in a stewpan, with :

  • 3/4 lb. of butter
  • 2 middle-sized onions
  • 2 middle-sized carrots

Fry, without coloring, for ten minutes; then add 6 oz. of flour; stir over the fire for five minutes; and put in :

  • 3 quarts of General Stock
  • 1 faggot
  • 1 quart of double cream
  • 1/2 oz. of salt
  • 10 oz. of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 oz. of mignonnette pepper

Stir over the fire till boiling, and simmer for one hour and a half, skimming off the fat occasionally : strain through a tammy cloth; put the sauce in a large glazing stewpan, with 2 gills of cream to each quart of sauce; reduce it over the fire till it coats the spoon; then strain again through a tammy cloth, into a basin; and stir with a spoon till the sauce is cold, to prevent a skin forming on the top.

Chicken Béchamel Sauce

Cut 2 lbs. of fillet of veal in 3-inch dice; take 2 hens, having previously removed the fillets; put the veal and hens in a stewpan, with:

  • 1 oz. of butter
  • 1/2 oz. of salt
  • 2 middle-sized onions cut in 8 pieces
  • 1/4 oz. of mignonette pepper

Fry, without coloring, for five minutes; add 3/4 lb. of flour; stir over the fire for five minutes; then add 5 quarts of General Stock, and 1 faggot; and stir till boiling.

Simmer for two hours, skimming off the fat frequently; strain the sauce, through a tammy cloth, into a large stewpan; reduce it, adding 1 1/2 pints of double cream, in three parts; when the sauce coats the spoon, strain it through a tammy cloth into a basin; stir it till quite cold; and put by for use.

Béchamel Sauce Maigre (Without Meat)

Cut 3 onions, 1 carrot, and 2 shallots, in large dice; fry them in a stewpan, with 1/2 lb. of butter, for five minutes; add 1/2 lb. of flour; fry for five minutes more; and put in:

  • 3 quarts of milk
  • 1 faggot
  • 1 oz. of salt
  • 1/4 oz. of mignonette pepper

Stir, and reduce the sauce for fifteen minutes; strain it, through a tammy cloth, into a basin; cover it with a little butter, melted; and put by for use.

When the Béchamel is wanted, it should be boiled up, and thickened with 1/4 lb. of butter, to each quart of sauce.

Béchamel Sauce

Divide the Velouté sauce (according to the quantity required) into three parts ; put one-third into a stew-pan, and, having reduced it, add to it a gill (more or less) of boiling cream; after allowing the sauce to boil a few minutes longer, stirring it the whole time, pass it through the tammy into a basin, or bain-marie, for use.

Cream Béchamel Sauce

Put two ounces of fresh butter into a medium-sized stew-pan ; add one and a half ounces of sifted flour, some nutmeg, a few peppercorns, and a little salt; knead the whole well together ; then cut one carrot and one onion into very thin slices, place them into the stew-pan, and also a bouquet of parsley, thyme, and half a bay-leaf, tied together; next moisten these with a pint of white broth and half a pint of cream; and, having stirred the sauce over the fire for about half an hour, pass it through the tammy into a basin for use.

This sauce is not expensive, neither does it require much time or trouble to make. It is very useful as a substitute for Velouté or other white sauces, as also for many other purposes, as will be shown hereafter.

Return to Top of Page

Epicurean Cooking Terms
GG Archives

Definitions, Usage, Recipes, Etc.

Improve Your Family History Through Illustrations

Make Your Family History More Readable Through Illustrations From the GG Archives