Besciamella (Italian-Style Béchamel Sauce)

  • Serves

    makes 2 cups

Although widely recognized by its French name, bechamel, this sauce has been known in Italy as besciamella (or balsamella or bechimella) for centuries. The sauce functions as a binding element in many pasta and vegetable dishes. It is also used as a topping in baked dishes—most notably lasagne and cannelloni—to prevent them from drying out.


  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. sifted flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk for 1½ minutes (do not allow to brown).

Step 2

Gradually add hot milk, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until sauce is the consistency of thick cream, about 15 minutes.

Continue to Next Story

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.