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Fettuccine noodles with white sauce in a shallow bowl.

Simple White Sauce

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: French and Italian Inspired


This quick, simple white sauce is perfect on pasta or as a base for your favorite pizza! 


  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • kosher salt to taste


  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan or a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, for one minute, until garlic is soft and fragrant.
  2. Add flour and stir to form a paste. Cook for another 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is thick and foamy.
  3. Stream milk in a little at a time, stirring constantly to work out any lumps. Add a pinch of salt.
  4. Bring mixture to a low simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 6-10 minutes, until sauce is thickened and easily coats the back of a spoon. 
  5. Reduce heat to low. Add parmesan and goat cheese; stir until cheeses are completely melted and you're left with a smooth sauce. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve immediately or let sauce cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


A few notes on cheese. Look for true Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) cheese here for best results. Shred and crumble the cheeses for this recipe yourself: store-bought shredded parmesan and pre-crumbled goat cheese are often coated with preservatives and anti-caking agents that prevent them from melting smoothly into a sauce. 

Additions and Substitutions. Replace up to half of the milk in this recipe with white wine, chicken stock, or parmesan broth. Use cream cheese instead of goat cheese if you like. For a more mac-and-cheese style sauce, swap the parmesan for shredded cheddar, white cheddar, or gruyere (or a mix of all three). Add herbs (chives, parsley, tarragon), a splash of lemon juice, or a pinch of nutmeg to this sauce for extra flavor. 

For a smoother sauce, use whole, smashed garlic cloves instead of minced garlic. Cook the whole cloves in the butter as directed, but remove and discard them before adding the flour (this gives you plenty of garlic flavor without the added texture!) You can also blend this sauce with an immersion blender to make it ultra smooth.

How to use this sauce. Toss this white sauce with cooked pasta or gnocchi (it's excellent with fettuccine!), use it as the base for homemade pizza, serve it over grilled or roasted chicken, or stir it into your favorite casserole.

Storage and Freezing. Let sauce cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost frozen white sauce in the fridge overnight, then reheat over low heat on the stovetop and use normally. If sauce separates in the fridge or freezer, add a splash of cream or milk, or blend it with an immersion blender to smooth it back out.

Strict vegetarians should look for cheeses made without rennet.

Keywords: sauce, pasta, alfredo