White pasta sauce is a simple creation made by thickening milk with a paste of flour and butter. Because of its versatility, you can use white sauce as a base for more complex recipes or simply serve it seasoned with a little salt and pepper over pasta. It blends well with many different ingredients and provides a quick way to turn plain pasta into a delicious lunch or dinner. The recipe yields approximately 4 cups of white pasta sauce. Freeze the leftovers, or store them in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Things You'll Need

Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until it begins to foam, which should take one to two minutes.

Add 1/3 cup flour immediately after the butter foams, and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk or fork. Make sure the whisk or fork reaches the very bottom of the pan with each stroke to incorporate all the flour into the butter.

Pour in 4 cups milk slowly while whisking constantly to ensure the flour absorbs the milk without causing lumps. If lumps appear anyway, continue whisking vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth.

Increase the heat to high, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil, whisking constantly to prevent the flour from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low immediately after the sauce begins to boil, and whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth, about five minutes.

Season the sauce to taste with salt and white pepper. Remove the amount of sauce you need for the dish you are preparing, and allow the remainder to cool. Transfer cooled sauce to airtight containers and freeze until needed, up to two months.


  • Use low-fat milk and light butter to reduce the fat content of your white pasta sauce, if desired.

  • Make a white sauce for pasta with chicken by substituting chicken stock for all or half the milk. This results in a thinner, more flavorful sauce.

  • Turn your sauce into a white cheese sauce by adding 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup grated white cheddar or Swiss cheese to the mixture just before removing from the heat. Whisk until the cheese melts, and then serve.