Culinary Arts

Recipe: Béchamel Sauce

Wolfgang Puck

Lesson time 20:57 min

Learn to master one of the five French mother sauces with Wolfgang's recipe for béchamel sauce. Wolfgang shows you how to use the béchamel to make his restaurants’ best-selling macaroni and cheese, and the creamed spinach from his childhood.

Wolfgang Puck
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Learning to make velvety béchamel is a cornerstone of any culinary school education, but don’t let this simple white sauce recipe intimidate you. Once you’ve got it down, it can be incorporated into any number of indulgent showstoppers. What Is Béchamel? Béchamel is a versatile white sauce and the base of a variety of comfort food dishes. As one of five mother sauces in French cuisine, it’s versatile and easy to master, with only a few ingredients—butter, milk, flour, eggs, and salt. The origins of this basic white sauce may in fact be Italian, with the recipe for Renaissance-era besciamella making its way to the courts of Louis XIV in France with the chefs of Catherine de Medici. Back then, it was made from butter, flour, and milk, and eventually evolved to include steeping aromatics like bay leaf and shallots in the milk before adding it to the butter and flour. (It is not, however, the same as true alfredo sauce, which is pasta tossed with a sauce made from Parmesan cheese and butter.) These days, the sauce is most often finished with a bit of salt and black pepper, plus a few good grates of fresh nutmeg—that’s it. Classic Béchamel Base: What Is Roux? Béchamel starts with a classic French roux: a few tablespoons of flour and a few tablespoons of fat—usually butter—cooked together in a heavy saucepan to form a thick paste before the addition of milk. A béchamel is built from a white roux, or one that has been cooked very quickly to maintain its light color and subtle, nutty flavors. Milk is slowly whisked into the mixture and cooked until it takes on a creamy consistency. Tips for Making Perfect Béchamel - All home cooks should master the mother sauces—and like any pursuit of mastery, practice makes perfect. Here’s a few things to remember on your quest for perfect béchamel: - Avoid lumps. By adding warm milk to your roux in increments, you allow the roux to accept the liquid evenly and at a controllable pace. Adding all the milk at once will cause the paste to “shock,” almost immediately creating lumps that are difficult to whisk out. - Add more roux. If your béchamel comes out too thin, even after cooking it for the required 10 minutes or so, you can always whip up a quick second batch of roux and build it back in. You’ll know béchamel is done, and the right consistency, when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. - Make it vegan. To make vegan béchamel, simply swap the milk and butter for equal amounts of non-dairy alternatives like vegan butter and soy milk. What to Serve With Béchamel Sauce: Recipe Ideas As a foundational sauce, béchamel can be incorporated into any number of dishes for a creamy effect: - Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Mac and Cheese. Wolfgang transforms his béchamel into a Mornay cheese sauce by adding cheddar and mozzarella cheese, which becomes the base for this macaroni and cheese. - Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Creamed Spinach. Béchamel also provides the foundation of one of Wolfgang’s ...

Become fearless in the kitchen

Legend has it Wolfgang Puck came up with his famous smoked salmon pizza when his restaurant ran out of bagels—and ended up changing the way America cooks. In his MasterClass, the five-time James Beard Award-winning chef behind more than 100 restaurants brings you into his kitchen. You’ll learn not only how to master starters, mains, sides, and cocktails, but also how to take risks to create memorable recipes of your own.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This is my 5th class on cooking. My repertoire has increased!

Everyone, well, once if you eat, should watch this. He's entertaining and informative You will be happy you watched and visited with him.

A brilliant class. i loved his teaching style and the sections on business philosphy especially when he spoke about the difficulties he faced at the beginning was open and refreshing. I am impressed with how each class in the masterclass series has difficult music and graphics.

I've watched all the lessons in a few short days. Listening was so interesting. I look forward to being able to try to make some of the recipes. Thank you!


Tiana C.

may I do the bechamel sauce in advance? like a day before I will use it? Also, how do I keep the cooked pasta from sticking to each other? Since I am a child I hear that pasta you take out of the pan directly into the plate, but I have seen in same classes here that the work with pre cooked pasta. How to make it?

Richard S.

some interesting tips, such as sugar at the end of the creamed spinach: must try that.

David W.

What a great teacher! I really enjoy his style, you can really tell his skills are classical and organic at the same time. Every dish he has introduced has been a winner. Thank you Master Puck :)


Such an uplifting lesson !! Both the choices of the dishes and the heartfelt narration by Mr. Puck, as he lets us be part of the beautiful ride through this Austrian childhood.

Anjo L.

First attempt kinda soupy watery. Got to put less milk and more salt & nutmeg next time. Thanks Master!

Sussa G.

I made the Mac and Cheese for a Friendsgiving dinner I had with some friends! They said it was the best mac and cheese they have had in a long time! It is very delicious.

A fellow student

Anyone know how long you can keep the Bechamel sauce in the fridge or should you make it fresh every time? Seems to me since it’s the mother sauce having some ready to go would be nice for busy weekday dinner

Rita L.

Hi Chef Wolfgang, We love the creamy spinach. I served the creamy spinach with Pan Roasted Ribeye, mashed potatoes and Chef Thomas Keller maître d'hôtel butter. Thanks for your lesson to master one of the five french mother sauces.

Robert M.

Mac and cheese is my go to comfort foods. My earliest cooking memories are of making béchamel with my babysitter. I liked the richness that mixing a few egg yokes added to the sauce.

A fellow student

I love Mac n cheese but that’s probably because I’m a child. But the spinach looks so good! yes I love my vegetables