Make this versatile white sauce, then try our blue cheese sauce, cheese sauce, hollandaise sauce, tomato passata and easy bolognese sauce. Also discover more pasta sauce recipes.


  • 600ml whole milk
  • ½ small onion
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 40g plain flour
  • grating of nutmeg
  • pinch of white pepper


  • STEP 1

    Put the milk in a pan over a low heat. Press the cloves into the onion and add to the milk along with the bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

  • STEP 2

    In a separate, heavy-based pan, melt the butter over a medium heat until foaming. Sprinkle over the flour and continually stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour absorbs the butter and makes a thick paste. Strain the infused milk into a jug, and add to the roux a splash at a time while continually stirring. Only add a little at first, as you see the flour expand and loosen – if you add the milk too quickly this can make the sauce lumpy. Once the mixture is a little looser, you can add the milk a little more at a time, until it’s all been added.

  • STEP 3

    Cook the white sauce for 4-5 minutes or until lightly thickened. Season with salt, nutmeg and white pepper. It will thicken up a lot as it cools but can be covered and chilled for up to two days. Reheat, stirring well, adding a splash more milk to loosen.

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Anna Glover profile
Anna GloverSenior food editor

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