White Sauce

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white sauce on toast

White Sauce Recipe

We tend to have a fear of white sauce in the same way we fear gravy. (White sauce is just unflavored gravy.) White Sauce is  very easy to make and you can use it in so many ways, especially if you are trying to stretch food like meat. I will give you the recipe but first let me give you ways to use it.

Add the following to white sauce:

Serve on toast with:

Hard boiled eggs, chopped
Can of tuna and/or frozen peas
Dried beef
Fried hamburger

Serve on Biscuits

Fried Sausage

As a side, serve white sauce with:

Potatoes, cubed and cooked with some melted American cheese
Broccoli, cooked and with some cheese
Cauliflower cooked and with some cheese
Macaroni and Cheese – Just add cooked macaroni and cheese to white sauce and bake until cheese is melted.

Use white sauce as a base for:

Chicken Pot pie

 This white sauce recipe is the one I use because I can get regular milk on sale and I prefer regular milk to dry milk.

White Sauce

2 Tbsp. flour (about)
1 cup milk

Pour milk into a pan. Sprinkle flour on top and whisk as you pour. Over medium heat, cook and whisk until the white sauce is thick.

Note: The ratio is 2 Tbsp. flour per 1 cup of milk. I usually use 2-3 cups of milk for most things. If the sauce is too thin you can try adding a little more flour but sometimes adding more flour causes lumps. To avoid this, I would add equal parts water and flour in a container, shake and then slowly pour into sauce to thicken more if you need to. Of course, if it is too thick just add a little more milk.

 This white sauce is the one we originally included in our Dining on a Dime Cookbook because, at the time, using powdered milk saved money and it was convenient to use dry milk if you ran out of milk.

White Sauce (From Dining on a Dime)
(Recipe makes 1 cup)

1/4 cup dry milk
2 Tbsp. flour
dash salt
1 cup cold water
1 Tbsp. margarine

In a covered jar, combine flour and salt and mix well. Add water. Shake until all the ingredients are dissolved. Melt margarine in a 1 quart saucepan. Stir in flour-milk mixture and cook over low heat until mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Keep stirring until thickened completely. Makes 1 cup.

Photo By: jeffreyw


  1. Marianne says

    I don’t use dry milk how would I substitute for this? I have seen several recipes calling for the dry milk on your posts but I have limited storage space and we use organic milk as it has a longer lifetime.

    • says

      Marianne you just use the first recipe I put there where it says about 2 Tbsp. flour for each cup of milk. This usually works best if the milk is cold. Now depending on what I am making or if I’m not in a hurry I will mix the flour with about 3 Tbsp. of water, shake it or whisk until the lumps are gone then add it to the milk.

      When ever you see dry milk in a recipe all you need to do is see how much water it calls for and just substitute milk for the water and dry milk.

  2. Ashley says

    What a timely post! I already knew how to do this, but I oftenly look at so many new recipes I forget about the simple and cheap ones I grew up making. This sauce will help make the perfect easy meal I was looking for. Thank you!

    • says

      You are so right Ashley I forget about it too and duhhhh I didn’t think to mention here that you can use cooked hamburger or sausage in this sauce and serve over biscuits. People think sausage and biscuits is a big deal and hard to make but the reality is that it is quick, easy and inexpensive.

  3. Pat says

    In high school in the early 1960’s I was taught to make white sauce with equal amounts of butter (oleo) and flour
    Heated in a sauce pan, and milk added to make the thickness you wanted for your white sauce. I still do this. Great for soups, too! I also make a version of this for my scolloped potatoes, with layers of thinly sliced potatoes, and onions, and sometimes cheese or mushroom soup ( if I use the soup I just sprinkle the flour and a bit of salt in the layers of potatoes and onions. Mac and cheese uses the white sauce with added cheese, it is so good, and I always stir in an egg or two with my Mac and cheese, side salad and supper/lunch is ready!

    • says

      Yes you can use butter. For those of you who don’t know 2-3 Tbsp. of grease from say the sausage or the hamburger can replace the butter and save money.

    • Sheri says

      That’s how I do it too!

      I think every young woman needs this recipe and be ready to use it. Like Jill says, it’s so versatile! It’s the base and beginning of a lot of good meals!

  4. Ginny says

    I have always used cornstarch instead of flour (probably because that is how my mother did it). Is there a difference in flavor when using flour ???

  5. Maggie says

    For years, my MIL made creamed spinach and creamed carrots and would NEVER give me her recipe. Finally, she did show my daughter how to make them and my daughter taught me. Everything was made with fresh ingredients – garden spinach and fresh carrots. The other day I was looking for a quick vegetable for dinner and pulled out a can of sliced carrots, whipped up the white sauce and Voila! had creamed carrots. Just the white sauce, carrots, and some parsley. My husband was so surprised and said I’d need to make them more often because they reminded him of his mom. This was the perfect compliment because her dishes were wonderful. My daughter told me that she uses frozen, chopped spinach for her creamed spinach dish and I will try that next. Too bad, all these years and I just didn’t know how to make these. My MIL made it seem so secret. But thanks to you Jill, I can make my husband his favorite veggies. Thanks so much.

  6. says

    my mother did this with onions.
    she would cook small cooking onions in water then pour the white sauce over them.
    Us kids didn’t really like onions but we would enjoy these.
    It was an interesting dish. the onions were whole so we could peel them for thin slices or cut them into bite size pieces.
    white sauce has so many uses.
    I add cheese and have a nice cheese sauce for poached fish.
    some things should never change and white sauce is one of them.

  7. Jeannie says

    We make creamed hamburg. My sister-in-law showed me an easy way to do it that it doesn’t lump up. Fry the onion, green peppers (optional), seasonings, and when almost done, scatter the flour over the hamburg and mix it in and let it cook into the meat. It will be a coating on the hamburg. Then I pour just a little bit of water over the mixture first, then slowing add the milk and stir so it doesn’t lump. We use it over boiled or fried potatoes or over noodles. A favorite at our house.
    We have a colorful vegetable with the meal and/or a salad.

  8. Sherri says

    The thing about cream of whatever soup is they are usually glutton and lactose free – so anyone have a good white sauce that is lactose and glutton free using basic ingredients?
    I don’t buy soy or almond milk. My hubby, (the one with the intolerances) would not drink it.
    I tend to just use gravy I make with only cornstarch not flour, but sometimes you just need a white sauce!

  9. Beth says

    Dora, I agree with you! When I was growing up, creamed potatoes and peas was always my request on my birthday, which is in October. So it’s good whether using new potatoes or not!! :)

  10. The Claymobile says

    Jill, I love Cream of Chicken soup. Could a person use this as a base for a homemade version of the soup I buy in a can???

    • says

      You could use that or we have a Cream of Soup Mix in Dining on a Dime you could use too. If you use the white sauce recipe just add the last 5 ingredients of the following recipe to the white sauce or make up this recipe from Dining on a Dime to keep on hand.

      Cream Soup Mix

      2 cups dry milk
      1 1/4 cups cornstarch or 2 1/2 cups flour
      1/4 cup chicken bouillon powder
      2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
      1/2 tsp. pepper
      1 tsp. thyme (optional)
      1 tsp. basil (optional)

      Mix all the ingredients and store in airtight container. If the mix is made with cornstarch, add 1/3 cup mix to 1 1/4 cups water; if made with flour, add 1/2 cup mix to 1 1/4 cups water.

      This makes concentrated casserole consistency. For soup consistency, double the water.

  11. Maggie says

    This recipe looks so good. I ordered the cookbook and can’t wait to get it. All the recipes you send us in the blog will be there and I don’t have sheets of paper all over the kitchen, tucked in here and there. I have begun to write notes on the recipes that I make to indicate whether we like it or not and if I change any of the ingredients. This has worked very well because sometimes I have decreased the salt or left something out that we didn’t like and the recipe has still been very good. This cream of soup mix is something that I know I will use frequently. Thanks.

    • says

      Glad you like it Maggie. I forgot to mention too to any one who uses a lot of the onion soup mix we have that in the book too.

  12. Chrissy says

    @ Sherri…our family is gluten, lactose and soy free. We do eat butter, and I would use butter to make a white sauce with rice flour. However, you can use bacon grease and rice flour, that will make a nicely flavored white sauce. The proportions are roughly the same..you’ll have to experiment a bit to get the thickness you want.

  13. Veronica Tidd says

    I do a lot of cooking by the”gosh and by golly” method that is guesswork. I melt about three tablespoons of butter in the microwave, then I mix in as much flour as it takes to make a thick paste. After that I slowly pour in about a cup of milk, stirring well to prevent lumps. Return to the microwave for about 2 minutes. When it comes out I whisk it and if it is lumpy use my stick blender to mix. By using the microwave burning the sauce is prevented and you don’t have to watch it.

  14. Lorene Terwilliger says

    Every Friday since we were not allowed meat (this is changed now) Mom would make a white sauce and put fresh carrots and chopped hard boiled eggs and even salmon or tuna sometimes. She served it on white bread toasted. This was many years ago but I still love it. Yummo

  15. Joyce says

    With our first microwave, a white sauce recipe was included in making scalloped potatoes. (Much quicker and easier than in the conventional oven…I still use it, 30 years later)

    Peel potatoes, slice thinly into casserole dish, (microwave safe)…make your white sauce(listed below) and pour over . Add,onions sliced, or a bit of cheese…your choice.
    (10 minutes baking time)
    Bake 5 minutes, lightly covered, test with fork, cook another 5 minutes…Test for doneness
    Serve hot. (great for summertime cooking, not hot oven heat)

    “White sauce”…..
    1/4 cup of butter, melted.
    1/4 cup flour,
    blend well. add
    1 cup of milk, mix well
    pour over sliced potatoes….

    White sauce can be used for making gravy or other thickenings.

    • says

      Annie white sauce is one of those things that seems to work better doing it in a sauce pan because you need to keep stirring it non stop while it is cooking. It is best cooked over medium to low heat on the burner depending how hot your stove cooks. Now after it is cooked you can store it in the fridge and then microwave the leftovers to warm it up.


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