Aromatic White Sauce Recipe from France | Ingredients: Milk, Onion, Peppercorns, Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme, Butter, Flour, Salt, Nutmeg

Aromatic White Sauce

Aromatic White Sauce Recipe from France | Ingredients: Milk, Onion, Peppercorns, Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme, Butter, Flour, Salt, Nutmeg
Region / culture: France | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 25 minutes | Servings: 4


Aromatic White Sauce
Aromatic White Sauce

The Aromatic White Sauce is a classic, versatile recipe that serves as a foundational element in many dishes across various cuisines. Known for its smooth texture and rich flavors, this sauce can elevate simple ingredients to create sophisticated and delicious meals. Whether you're drizzling it over vegetables, using it as a base for casseroles, or incorporating it into pasta dishes, the Aromatic White Sauce is a must-know recipe for both novice and experienced cooks.


The origins of white sauce, or béchamel as it's known in French cuisine, date back to the Renaissance period. It was named after Louis de Béchamel, a 17th-century financier who served as the steward to King Louis XIV of France. However, the sauce's roots can be traced even further back to Italian cuisine, from where it was introduced to the French. Over the centuries, it has become a cornerstone of French cooking and has spread worldwide, with each culture adding its unique twist.


How to prepare

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, onion, peppercorns, parsley, bay leaf, and thyme.
  2. Slowly heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  5. Whisk in the warm milk mixture and a pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes.
  7. Add more salt if needed and nutmeg.
  8. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve before using.


  • For a gluten-free version, substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. To make a dairy-free sauce, use plant-based milk and butter alternatives. Adding different herbs and spices can tailor the sauce to complement specific dishes.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

For a perfectly smooth sauce, ensure all ingredients are prepared before you begin cooking. Slowly whisk the milk into the flour and butter roux to prevent lumps. Gentle heat is key to thickening the sauce without scorching it. For added depth of flavor, infuse the milk with the aromatics for as long as possible, even letting it sit for a few hours if time allows.

Serving Suggestions

This sauce pairs beautifully with steamed or roasted vegetables, fish, poultry, and pasta. It can also be used as a base for more complex sauces or casseroles, adding a creamy texture and rich flavor to a variety of dishes.

Cooking Techniques

The key technique in making this sauce is the preparation of a roux, which involves cooking flour and butter together before adding milk. Gentle simmering and frequent whisking are crucial to achieve the desired thickness and smoothness.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you're out of fresh herbs, dried herbs can be used in smaller quantities. In place of whole milk, skimmed, semi-skimmed, or plant-based milks can be used for different dietary needs.

Make Ahead Tips

The Aromatic White Sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently, adding a little extra milk if the sauce has thickened too much upon cooling.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the sauce in a gravy boat alongside your main dish, or drizzle it artistically over plated food. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a dash of nutmeg for an elegant touch.

Pairing Recommendations

This sauce pairs well with white meats like chicken and turkey, as well as fish and seafood. It's also a perfect complement to steamed green vegetables like broccoli and asparagus.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, place the sauce in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add a little milk or water if the sauce is too thick.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of this sauce contains approximately 100 calories. The majority of these calories come from the fats and carbohydrates in the sauce.


A serving of Aromatic White Sauce contains approximately 8 grams of carbohydrates. The primary source of these carbohydrates is the all-purpose flour used to thicken the sauce.


This sauce contains about 5 grams of fat per serving, mainly from the butter. Using whole milk also contributes to the fat content, though this can be adjusted based on dietary needs or preferences.


Each serving of Aromatic White Sauce provides around 4 grams of protein, primarily from the milk. This makes it a modest source of protein that can complement protein-rich dishes.

Vitamins and minerals

The Aromatic White Sauce is a source of calcium and vitamin D from the milk, along with small amounts of iron and vitamins A and B from the other ingredients. The fresh herbs also contribute various micronutrients and antioxidants.


The primary allergens in this recipe are dairy (milk, butter) and gluten (from all-purpose flour). Individuals with allergies or intolerances to these ingredients should seek suitable substitutions.


Overall, the Aromatic White Sauce is moderately low in calories and provides a balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It can be a nutritious addition to meals when used in moderation.


The Aromatic White Sauce is a timeless recipe that adds richness and depth to many dishes. With its simple ingredients and versatile nature, it can be adapted to suit a wide range of dietary needs and preferences. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced cook, mastering this sauce will undoubtedly elevate your culinary repertoire.

How did I get this recipe?

The memory of discovering this recipe for the first time is a cherished one. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting my dear friend Mrs. Jenkins in her cozy little cottage in the countryside. Mrs. Jenkins was known far and wide for her delicious cooking, and I was always eager to learn new recipes from her.

On that particular day, Mrs. Jenkins was busy preparing a special dinner for her family, and I offered to help her in the kitchen. As we chatted and chopped vegetables together, she suddenly pulled out a small, worn-out recipe card from her recipe box.

"Have you ever tried making aromatic white sauce, my dear?" she asked, a twinkle in her eye.

I shook my head, intrigued by the sound of this mysterious sauce. Mrs. Jenkins then proceeded to show me how to make it, explaining each step in detail and sharing the secret ingredients that would give the sauce its unique flavor.

As the sauce simmered on the stove, filling the kitchen with its heavenly aroma, Mrs. Jenkins and I sat down to enjoy a delicious meal together. The creamy, flavorful sauce was the perfect addition to the dish, and I knew I had stumbled upon a recipe that would become a staple in my own kitchen.

From that day on, I made aromatic white sauce whenever I wanted to add a touch of elegance to my meals. Over the years, I perfected the recipe, tweaking it here and there to suit my own taste. I shared it with friends and family, who were always amazed by its rich flavor and velvety texture.

One of my fondest memories of making aromatic white sauce was when my grandchildren came to visit. They had never tasted anything like it before, and their eyes lit up with delight as they took their first bite.

"Grandma, this is the best sauce ever!" they exclaimed, their mouths full of creamy goodness.

I smiled, proud to have passed down another delicious recipe to the next generation. Cooking has always been a way for me to connect with my loved ones, to create memories that would last a lifetime.

As I sit here now, reminiscing about that fateful day in Mrs. Jenkins' kitchen, I can't help but feel grateful for all the recipes I have learned over the years. Each one holds a special place in my heart, a reminder of the joy and love that cooking has brought into my life.

And so, I continue to cook and bake, to experiment and create, knowing that each new recipe is a gift waiting to be shared with those I hold dear. The memory of discovering aromatic white sauce may have been the beginning of a culinary adventure, but it is just one chapter in the story of a lifetime spent in the kitchen, cooking up love and memories one dish at a time.


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