Traditional Vegan Béchamel Sauce

January 26, 2021

Making a Béchamel Sauce is a very basic technique in French cooking which begins with a roux, a cooked mixture of flour and butter, and after slowly whisking in milk, ends in a creamy sauce. Béchamel Sauce has a proper place in homey, creamed dishes, often making leftovers stretch or giving cooked foods new life. And it is important as a base for soufflés. The French term for this medium-thick white sauce is Béchamel. The foolproof way to attain a perfectly smooth sauce is to have the milk hot when adding it to the butter and flour. I believe that the is is a crucial technique to use in Vegan cooking. It will elevate your dishes to a ‘professional French level!’

Why is it called Béchamel Sauce?

Immigrating from Tuscany, Italy to the royalty of France, the béchamel, previously named Balsamella, was easily adapted into the rich French cuisine. They renamed it after the chief steward to King Louis XIV, the marquis de Bechamel, and quickly found a number of delicious recipes to adapt it

This Bechamel sauce will be used in tomorrow’s recipe. You can make it today, and save it in the refrigerator for use in tomorrow’s recipe.

Traditional Vegan Béchamel Sauce

This recipe is by
Yield: 3.5 cups Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 3 cups (750ml) unsweetened oat milk
  • 1 bay leaf, torn in half
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp good-quality salt
  • 6 tbsp (55ml) olive oil
  • 5 level tbsp (43g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup nutritional yeast

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 4 tbsp water


• Place oat milk, bay leaf, nutmeg, peppercorns and salt in a small pan, and heat on low-medium heat for 10 mins—this will allow the flavours to infuse into the milk. Take care not to boil.

• To make the roux, heat the olive oil on medium heat until warm. Add the flour and whisk. Keep whisking for around a minute, this will begin cooking the flour.

• Strain the milk mixture into a pouring jug and add it to the roux GRADUALLY. This is around ¼- ½ cup every minute until the mixture is smooth before adding more milk and mixing again – repeat until you’ve used all the milk.

• Keep cooking on medium heat and whisking until any lumps have gone and the sauce is thick—this will take 10 minutes.

• Add the nutritional yeast and whisk in. Take off heat.

• Taste and add a pinch more salt if needed.

• Your sauce is now ready to be layered in your lasagna, moussaka or other oven-baked dishes.

For the topping:

• Reserve around 1/2 cup of the béchamel to create the crispy cheesy topping.

• While your dish is baking, mix together the tapioca starch and water until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the reserved béchamel until it is all well combined.

• When you have 10 minutes of bake time left, remove the dish from the oven, pour on the béchamel & tapioca mix, and bake for around 8 minutes.

• Turn the oven off, move the dish to the top shelf, and grill until the top has browned to your liking.

How hot should the milk be?

• I use a non-dairy milk: soy milk or almond milk

• Warm the milk on low heat just until little bubbles begin to form at the edges. Then remove from the heat.

What is the best milk to use?

• Soy milk works very well, since it has an almost savoury flavour, plenty of protein, and is also unlikely to curdle. You can also use oat milk, which has a subtle flavour that won’t interfere with the balance of your dish.

• It’s also possible to use nut-based milks, such as almond or cashew—but make sure you choose brands that contain only water and nuts. Many nut-based milks also contain rice milk, which is sweet and won’t work very well in savoury dishes. Unsweetened plant milk will deliver the most authentic flavor. I have successfully used unsweetened Trader Joe’s almond milk in this recipe.

How to store vegan béchamel sauce:

• You can store béchamel for 4-5 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Simply allow to cool completely, then place some parchment paper directly in contact with the béchamel—this will stop it from forming a skin. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

• You can also freeze béchamel to use at a later date (within three months). Simply allow to cool completely, spoon into freezer-safe airtight containers, and freeze. When you’re ready to use it, defrost it slowly in the fridge overnight.

• To reheat béchamel, place it in a saucepan and heat on low, stirring constantly. You may need to add a little more milk if it is too thick – especially the leek version.

How did you modify this recipe? Please share in the comments. Thank you for sharing!

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