I am familiar with a basic white sauce, or béchamel, and know how to make it. I recently came across a recipe (circa 1950's) that calls for 1 cup medium white sauce.

Is this the same as a béchamel? (What other white sauces [light/heavy? thin/thick? color?] was medium distinguishing from?) If not, do I need to adjust the "standard" white sauce recipe in some way to make it thinner or thicker?

  • Thin/thick adjustment :food.com/recipe/bechamel-basic-white-sauce-61333 Aug 13 '14 at 20:41
  • Ah. I clearly should have Googled for "medium bechamel" instead of "medium white sauce" :)
    – Erica
    Aug 13 '14 at 21:36
  • I spent a moment pondering medium white as something between a paler white and darker white, or if a medium thickness of white referred to something between opaque and translucent white (and how one could possibly tell)... And then I looked at the answer and realized it made much more sense for the medium to refer to the sauce, not the white. All kinds of ridiculousness from me.
    – Megha
    Jul 9 '16 at 19:24

After spending more time on search engines and thanks to the comment from belisarius...

Medium refers to the thickness level of the final sauce, and is controlled by the ratio of roux (butter/flour) to milk. For 1 cup of milk:

  • thin = 1 tablespoon each flour/butter
  • medium = 2 tablespoons each flour/butter (a "standard" bechamel)
  • thick = 3 tablespoons each flour/butter

Sources: 1, 2


I have many cookbooks dating back to the 1940's & 1950's. As far as I have been able to tell over the years, a medium white sauce would be the same as your standard recipe. If thick, thin, flavored, colored, or anything else were designated, I would delve further into it. But for all intents and purposes medium should be interchangeable with standard or regular.

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