Chef John's White Sauce Recipe -
Chef John's White Sauce Recipe
  • READY IN 22 mins

Chef John's White Sauce

Recipe by  

"White sauce is one of the “mother sauces” in traditional culinary training and is used in many popular dishes."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 4 cups Change Servings
  • PREP

    5 mins
  • COOK

    17 mins

    22 mins


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in 1 cup cold milk, about 1 minute. Stir in second cup of milk for an additional minute.
  3. Stir in remaining 2 cups of milk, cayenne pepper, salt, thyme, and nutmeg; bring to a simmer over low heat until sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Apr 27, 2012

I didn't change a thing and loved it!!

Most Helpful Critical Review
Oct 03, 2014

Couldn't eat it! That's a first from a chef john recipe, but I'm still a chef john fan!

Sep 23, 2012

This is a BASIC sauce. Add whatever spices will complement whatever you're going to use it on. Important: you want to cook the butter/four mix at a temp that will cook the flour without burning the butter. Usually when I get lumps, it's because I didn't cook the flour long enough. I like to make this with whole wheat flour, if you don't mind a brown "white" sauce with speckles. :)

Feb 16, 2013

I skipped the thyme in this recipe. I browned some chopped onion and fresh minced garlic in the butter before adding the flour. After the sauce was made, I added some ground mustard and a touch of hot sauce. I used the white sauce as a base for homemade macaroni and cheese. It worked out great--perfect thickness and held up well during the whole cooking process.

Jan 12, 2014

For a basic, more versatile white sauce, omit the nutmeg and thyme. (Actually, I’m not sure I’d like that combination. For my tastes it would be either/or) For a thinner white sauce, use 1 T. each of flour and butter. For a thick sauce, 3 T. each of flour and butter.

Mar 28, 2013

Thank you so much! I had a basic recipe for white sauce and lost it and couldn't find a good one to replace it. This was exactly what I was looking for. I did add some chopped onion and garlic to the butter and skipped the cayenne since I don't care much for spicy hot food. It turned out perfectly. I can't wait to experiment with other added ingredients and can see several possibilities!

Feb 10, 2013

This turned out good-but made alot so I had to throw out the rest..I used this sauce for my macaroni and cheese dish and my son loved it...A keeper!!!

Sep 06, 2012

I consider myself a pretty good cook, but I had some trouble with this sauce. It took me over half an hour to be able to come up with something good because it was very bland. I ended up adding 2 chicken bullion cubes, basil, and oregano. I also had to whisk the sauce for a good ten minutes for it to thicken up without clumps. Maybe this sauce is supposed to be a base that you modify yourself, but that should be specified. **However, after I added everything I did, this sauce came out terrific and tasted very good over baked chicken.


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  • Calories
  • 192 kcal
  • 10%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 11.8 g
  • 4%
  • Cholesterol
  • 40 mg
  • 13%
  • Fat
  • 14 g
  • 22%
  • Fiber
  • 0.3 g
  • 1%
  • Protein
  • 5 g
  • 10%
  • Sodium
  • 180 mg
  • 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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