Have you ever wondered what it is that makes Bechamel Sauce so special?
A staple of French cuisine, this iconic sauce adds creaminess and intense flavor to every dish it graces.
Whether for a savory or sweet dish, dishes with Bechamel Sauce can be a gourmet’s delight.
But if you don’t have the ingredients on hand or looking for an alternative, how do you substitute it?
There are five alternatives that can be used in place of Bechamel Sauce, each offering a slightly different flavor to the dish.
From classic Alfredo to a vegan friendly simple butter and flour mixture, read on to see the best substitutes for Bechamel Sauce.
What is Bechamel Sauce?
Bechamel sauce, also known as a béchamel, is one of the “mother” sauces in French cuisine.
It is made of a roux (flour and butter paste) and milk that has been thickened until it becomes a creamy, smooth white sauce.
It is important to note that both the roux and milk need to be warmed before they are added together in order to ensure proper consistency of the sauce; this is key to its famous velvety texture.
Bechamel sauce can be enjoyed on its own, or seasoned with nutmeg or mild cheese; this latter version is one of the most common varieties used in dishes such as lasagna.
It can be used just like any other type of sauce when cooking – paired with fish, chicken, veal or vegetables – for added flavor.
There are various other uses for bechamel sauce; for example it can also be used as a base in quiches and soups.
Additionally, because it holds up quite well to reheating (especially leftovers from frozen), one can use it within casseroles – either savory or sweet – that require an eggless custard-like texture like macaroni and cheese.
In summary, Bechamel Sauce is an important part of French cuisine due its creamy texture which serves as an excellent accompaniment for dishes such as lasagna, quiche and casseroles.
Furthermore, because it reheats well – either fresh or frozen – it can easily last through multiple meals at home without losing any richness or flavor.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Bechamel Sauce
While there are countless recipes for variations on the dish using cream and/or flavoring herbs such as garlic and onion or additional ingredients like nutmeg, today we will focus on five alternatives you can use instead of bechamel sauce when cooking any dish that calls for it.
1 – White Wine Sauce
White Wine Sauce is a great substitute for Bechamel Sauce when you’re out of this classic ingredient.
It is a combination of butter, flour, and white wine that is cooked until it forms a thick sauce.
This sauce goes well with any dish that calls for mushrooms, artichokes, fish, or chicken as the main ingredient.
You can also use it as a topping for potatoes or vegetables.
To make White Wine Sauce, start by melting butter in a pot over medium heat and whisking in three tablespoons of all-purpose flour until it has dissolved.
Next add two cups of white wine and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.
Once it reaches boiling point let it simmer for 4-5 minutes before serving – this will thicken the sauce considerably.
Lastly add salt and pepper to taste if desired and pour over your chosen dish.
2 – Mornay Sauce
Mornay sauce is a creamy cheese-based sauce that originated in France and is heavily used in French cuisine.
It can be made with various kinds of cheeses, such as Gruyere, cheddar, or Parmesan, but it always contains butter and flour to thicken it up.
This basic white sauce has a smooth appearance with slightly nutty flavor from the cheese.
It’s perfect for adding to macaroni and cheese dishes or lasagnas.
You can also use mornay sauce as a topping for vegetables or fish.
To make mornay sauce, melt butter in a medium-sized pan over low heat and stir in flour — whisking constantly — until you have a thick paste.
Gradually add warmed milk while continuing to whisk until the mixture has thickened.
Then turn off the heat and stir in your choice of grated cheese until fully combined before adding salt and pepper to taste.
3 – Creamy Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise sauce is one of the five traditional French mother sauces and is an emulsion of melted butter, egg yolks and a hint of lemon juice for acidity.
Because it has similar components to bechamel, it can be used as a stand-in if needed.
The flavor will be noticeably different but it still carries that creamy factor making it a standout alternative.
It’s ideal served over hot or poached fish or eggs and can also make an excellent accompaniment over vegetables like asparagus or broccoli.
To make hollandaise sauce at home follow these steps:
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in the microwave.
- In a medium bowl, add 2 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cold water.
- Whisk together until smooth.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Slowly pour in the melted butter while constantly whisking until thickened (3 to 4 minutes).
- Stir in some cayenne pepper for heat if desired.
4 – Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce
Dairy-free cheese sauce can be an excellent alternative to bechamel sauce.
To make this vegan-friendly version, you can make your sauce with nutritional yeast and a combination of plant-based milks such as almond or cashew milk.
You can also add herbs and garlic for a little extra flavor.
To thicken the sauce, cornstarch is often used in place of the typical white flour and butter combination in a classic bechamel.
Any type of vegan cheese that melts, like Daiya brand cheeses, work best to create creamy results that mimic the taste and texture of bechamel.
Be sure to season generously with salt and pepper before serving.
5 – Cauliflower Cream Sauce
Cauliflower cream sauce is a light and low-carb alternative to bechamel sauce.
It’s made from steamed cauliflower blended with non-dairy milk, broth or water for the perfect creamy consistency.
Perfectly seasoned and thickened with cornstarch, this vegan friendly alternative packs plenty of flavor but requires no dairy products.
Its subtle taste adds creaminess to any dish but won’t overwhelm the flavors of your meal like a traditional bechamel sauce might.
For added nutrients, add in some nutritional yeast or some finely grated cheese at the end of cooking.
To make a richer version, substitute half and half instead of non-dairy milk or use whole milk or cream instead of broth or water.
In conclusion, Bechamel sauce is a French classic used in many recipes to add richness and depth of flavor.
While it may not be easily accessible or even easily made at home, there are several substitutes that can be used to create a similar effect.
Cream sauces, cheese sauces, yogurt-based sauces and even nut-based sauces can all be used to replicate the creamy texture and savory taste of Bechamel.
With the right ingredients, you could make your own version of the classic with ease.
When substituting for Bechamel, keep in mind that every alternative will bring a different layer of flavor to your dish so be sure to adjust as needed for best results.