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How to Make a White Sauce

This basic white sauce is the building block of great recipes like homemade mac and cheese or lasagna. It comes together quickly and easily on the stove.

How to Make a White Sauce

I first learned to cook out of my mom’s yellow Pillsbury cookbook. It was written in 1971, back in the days when home economics was still taught in schools and when branded cookbooks listed real ingredients like 1 cup flour instead 1 6-ounce package Mary Mary’s baking mix.

Nowadays many cookbooks offer you recipes that are simply open this can, shake in this mix, stir and done. While the convenience is nice, the ingredients not so much.

I am the first to say that I love the Cheesy Potatoes that my Gramma and grandmas everywhere made with canned cream soup. “Church potatoes” were always one of my favorite things at family reunions.

But, I’ve found how to make it myself — from scratch — without all the preservatives and junk. The secret is in the sauce — the white sauce.

How to Make a White Sauce

That’s really all that canned cream soup is — a white sauce enhanced with chicken broth, chopped celery, sautéed mushrooms, or whatever other flavor you want to “cream”. I use a basic white sauce in a number of recipes:

To make a white sauce is to conquer a really simple culinary technique that has all kinds of potential. You can flavor it any way you like (parmesan, spices, herbs, cheese, sauteed vegetables, chicken broth for some of the milk) to recreate any creamy sauce you desire.

I use this basic white sauce as the base to my macaroni and cheese recipes, as a white sauce for pizza or lasagna, as the gravy for pot pie, or the luscious Bechamel layer in a Croque Monsieur. Mmmmmm. Good stuff!

(Bechamel is the French name for our white sauce)

How to Make a White Sauce

The process is super simple. Melt butter in a pan. Add flour and whisk until bubbly and fragrant. Whisk in milk or milk/broth until smooth and creamy. Simmer until your desired thickness. Yum!

One batch of this sauce, seasoned with salt and pepper and any of the options mentioned above can replace a can of creamed soup in your recipes.

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Comments

  1. If you want to make it chicken flavor, do you just add more flour since the chicken broth will thin it out? FYI: I don’t kike to use chicken bouillon–it has too many questionable ingredients.

  2. And for those that need to stay away from gluten, cornstarch or your favorite gluten-free blend works well too. I often make this with chicken broth only also.

  3. Allie Z says:

    I’ll admit, I haven’t had flour in my kitchen in at least 2 years. Sad! But our work around for GF white sauce comes from a sneaky white sweet potato. It seriously works!

    I use the microplaner to get a fine grind. I let the butter and 1/2 potato melt together for several minutes, whisk in 1/2 the liquid and simmer for 5 minutes or until thick. Then I thin out the sauce and viola! GF white sauce. I usually season with Organic chicken bullion, onion powder, and mustard powder. YUM!!

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