Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Should I introduce the milk hot or cold when making white (béchamel) sauce?

Searching around I found multiple opposite opnions, like on this answer (see the comments).

Also different advice from famous chefs:

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

As you see from the variety of advise from reputable sources, many combinations of hot/cold roux and liquid will work.

From a convenience point of view, you want at least one of them hot in order to speed the integration. If you started both of them cold, it would probably work but take a while to warm up to melt the butter in the roux, and free the flour particles to integrate and create the sauce@mdash;and it will won't fully thicken until the mixture is at a boil, so this is inefficient. You would probably also have to mash and stir more frequently to prevent local burning.

If you start with both hot, it will also work, although you might have to whisk relatively quickly—but who has both a hot base and a hot roux sitting around? Usually, at least one was prepared in advance, even if only by a few minutes. Batali is recommending this method, but note that in the professional kitchen, where he lives, time is the most constrained resource, so this is his method of choice. His line cooks probably have hot roux ready at all times.

A hot roux is easier to scoop and measure.

A hot liquid will quickly melt and dissolve the roux.

But in any case, if the roux is properly made, the starch granules are surrounded by fat, and so are not going to cause lumping in any case, despite Ramsay's advise. As soon as the mixture is warm enough to melt the butter, the particles are going to move away from one another, and won't be able to clump together before they are hydrated.

So I would not worry about this in the slightest.

share|improve this answer
You can also make several weeks worth of roux at one time and keep it in the freezer. Scoop it out like ice cream, and have your whisk ready. Hoorah! – Jolenealaska Oct 19 '13 at 15:57
So basically I should just follow the advice from Marco Pierre, hot rue + cold milk or cold rue + hot milk, and never hot + hot, right? – talles Oct 20 '13 at 14:17
You won't go wrong doing that. – SAJ14SAJ Oct 20 '13 at 21:45

In my experience the secret to great roux sauce is to add the milk very slowly at the beginning. Keeping the hob temperature low, add a splash of milk to the butter/flour mixture, stir, and repeat. Gradually increase the amount of milk added in each turn, and soon you'll have a smooth white sauce with no lumps. When the sauce is looking more liquid than solid you can increase the hob temperature slightly too, but don't over-do it as the sauce might curdle.

I haven't found any difference between using room-temperature milk, and milk straight from the fridge. The biggest factor is not adding too much milk at the earliest stages - patience is the key!

share|improve this answer
Agreed ... see for more details. – Joe Sep 11 '14 at 13:04
I learned it from my mother many years ago :-) – David Kirkland Sep 11 '14 at 13:06

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.