Courtesy of Jen Jackson
Photography by Jenna Noel

Always use high-quality milk for béchamel because the taste of the milk will be the taste of your sauce. And be sure to slowly whisk the milk into the roux to avoid lumps. This one takes practice and you might scald the milk and have to start over. But taste the milk first—if it tastes like milk, change out pots and continue. If it tastes burnt, start over. 

You can make a delicious béchamel using “corn milk” to bake in a gratin with potatoes and fennel, topped with bread crumbs. I save corncobs in my freezer all summer, and in November, I drop them into some milk and slowly simmer for a few hours.

Fairly difficult



For 1 Person(s)


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
  • 2 whole cloves, inserted into onion half
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

Béchamel Directions

  1. In a thick-bottomed saucepan that holds at least 2 quarts, slowly melt the butter. When the butter melts completely, stir in the flour with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the milk as soon as the flour is completely incorporated into the butter. Add the onion after reducing the milk to a simmer. Stir frequently to avoid burning the milk, and strain through a fine-mesh strainer once slightly thickened.
  3. Season as desired with salt, pepper and nutmeg and serve. Sauce can be cooled and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.

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