A vegan bechamel sauce is a foundational recipe that can be used in so many ways– aka vegan white sauce, this sauce is great for pasta, scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lasagna and more!
This recipe will walk you through the following:
- How to make a bechamel sauce
- Our top tips for making your first bechamel
- How to store bechamel sauce
- Our favorite plant milk to make this extra creamy
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup vegan butter (or oil– see notes)
- 3 cups thick & creamy plant based milk like canned coconut milk or soy milk. If using a thinner plant milk like almond, cashew, or a seed milk you may have to simmer this sauce for 10–15 minutes additional for it to thicken
- salt and pepper, to taste
- a pinch of fresh nutmeg (optional)
- Heat a high walled pan over low heat and add butter (or oil) to melt.
- Once butter (or oil) is melted, add in the entire 1/4 cup flour and whisk to incorporate the mixture into a paste (called a roux). Cook this paste for 3-4 minutes. It will become a bit puffy and appearing to bubbling up and will smell a bit nutty or roasty as the raw flour cooks. Whisk occasionally, paying special attention to the sides of the pan.
- After your roux is cooked, turn the heat up to medium low and add in about 1/2 cup of milk, whisking to form a very thick paste.
- Turn the heat up to medium and add in another 1/2 of milk, whisking aggressively to combine.
- Once this is simmering, add in another 1 cup of milk and whisk until combined.
- After the now very thick sauce is simmering again, add in the final 1 cup of milk and whisk to combine.
- Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg and your bechamel is ready to use!
- The bechamel is ready when it coats a spoon or spatula.
- If you feel the sauce is too thick, add in additional liquid in 1/4 cup increments.
- If you feel the sauce is too thin, let it simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes until it has thickened, whisking frequently.
- This will form a skin as it cools, simply whisk again to dissolve the skin. Bechamel sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
A roux made with oil in our experience is easier to burn as the oil heats up faster than butter– whisk nonstop while cooking the flour/oil mixture and pay special attention to the corners of the pot. Begin at a lower heat and slowly increase the heat as you add milk.
Our favorite vegan milk for this recipe is the Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk sold in tetra packs– it is SO thick and it doesn’t have gums, stabilizers, or thickeners! It’s almost like a vegan half and half! You can purchase it here.
Vegam bechamel made with thinner milks with a lower fat content do work, however you need to make a larger roux (maybe 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup flour) or simmer the sauce for longer for it to reduce and thicken. If you simmer to thicken, the yield will be lower than 2.5 cups.
Once you have the process of making a bechamel sauce down, it comes together in about 10 minutes. The first few times you make this sauce it will likely take longer as it’s a new kitchen technique! Take your time and whisk as much as you need to.