How to Make White Sauce


White sauce is one of the most versatile things you can learn to make.  There are many variations to the basic recipe so you can use it for:

  • Cheese sauce
  • Cream soup substitute
  • Cream sauce for peas or potatoes or other veggies
  • Sausage gravy
  • Chipped beef gravy
  • Sauce for casseroles
  • and more

Making white sauce is a quick thing to do.  You’ll only need a whisk and a heavy pan or skillet.  The amounts of butter, milk (or broth) and flour can be altered for different amounts and thicknesses of sauce.  For a very basic sauce of medium thickness, use 3 Tbs. butter, 3 Tbs. flour and 1 1/2 cups milk. 

The first step is to melt the butter in the pan or skillet over medium heat.

Once the butter is melted, add the flour.

Whisk the flour into the butter.  Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly.

The butter and flour should turn golden in color.  After it cooks for a minute, whisk in hot milk.  I warm the milk in the microwave for a minute or two to heat it up.  Whisk the milk in slowly.  Bring the sauce to a low boil, stirring frequently.

When the sauce begins to boil, turn down the heat or remove it from heat.  At this point you can add salt and pepper and any other seasoning you want.  You can also add cheese for a cheese sauce.


  • Cook diced onions, celery, garlic and/or mushrooms in the butter before adding flour.  This makes a good substitute for canned soups.
  • Add 1-2 cups of cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss or other types of cheese
  • Add 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • Add any seasonings such as poultry seasoning, nutmeg, onion powder, seasoned salt, curry powder, parsley, chives…
  • Substitute chicken broth for 1/2 the milk

Tomorrow I’ll post a recipe for Ham & Swiss Potatoes that uses white sauce.  Once you know how to make basic white sauce, the possibilities are nearly endless.  Experiment and have fun!

How to Make White Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. butter (or 3 or 4 for thicker sauce)
  • 2 Tbs. flour (or 3 or 4 for thicker sauce)
  • 1½ cups milk, warmed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Amount of butter and flour can be adjusted for different thicknesses of sauce, but use equal amounts of butter and flour.
  2. Melt butter in heavy skillet or pan over medium heat.
  3. Whisk in flour, cooking for 1-2 minutes until golden in color.
  4. Whisk in warm milk slowly. Cook over medium heat till comes to low boil, stirring often.
  5. Season and remove from heat.
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  1. What a grrrreat post and tutorial! Everyone needs to know how to do this, and certainly not all do. Great photos.

  2. Every cook needs to know how to make white sauce because it is so versatile.


  1. […] Not every recipe uses cream soups, but a few do.  If you avoid the canned version, or find that you’re out, here’s a post on using White Sauce (with several variations) as a substitute. […]

  2. […] {via} I mentioned in my post about food budgeting that I never buy cream soups – be it Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery. I also rarely use sour cream and cream cheese as a casserole base. I am able to avoid these processed foods and these extra expenses by making a simple white sauce using everyday ingredients – and it takes no time! I thank my mother for this wonderful skill – and I use it ALL THE TIME! […]

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