White sauce pasta is a delicious dish made of pasta, butter, milk, cheese & herbs. It is basically cooked pasta tossed in cheesy white sauce. White sauce is also known as bechamel sauce & is made using flour, butter and milk. It originated from the Italian & french cuisines and is a base for many other sauce recipes.
White sauce is used in the preparation of various dishes like pasta, lasagne and pies.
This cheesy white sauce pasta is a favorite with my kids and I make this with so many different variations. The recipe shared in this post is the basic vegetarian version. Feel free to tweak & add in your favorite veggies, shrimp or chicken.
This recipe just takes about 20 mins and is great to make for a quick weeknight dinner. It makes a meal by itself and doesn’t need anything else on the side.
You can also make the sauce ahead and refrigerate. Then later toss in the cooked pasta when you like to have the dish.
Tips to make white sauce pasta
Pasta: You can use any kind of pasta you like like macaroni, fusilli, penne or even spaghetti. Pasta made with any grain also goes well.
Flavoring: I have flavored this white sauce pasta with just some oregano, pepper & red chili flakes. However you can also add Dijon mustard, mixed herbs or garlic for added flavors.
Milk: Full fat milk works well as it adds richness. You can also use any vegan milk. You can also make your own almond milk and use for this recipe. I have shared it in the recipe notes below.
Cream: You can also substitute a portion of the milk with cream if you have. It does make the white sauce pasta rich in taste.
Cheese: Usually cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese or a mix of many kinds of cheese are used to make this bechamel sauce pasta. Use what ever you desire. I have used cream cheese here since I was running out of the others.
For variations use heavy cream or cheddar cheese or cream cheese to suit your taste. There are a lot of options to tweak this basic recipe.
Using full fat milk and cheese or cream are the key to making yummy and delicious white sauce pasta.
You can also use the same recipe to make chicken pasta in white sauce, it turns out good with mustard and lots of black pepper.
White sauce pasta recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- ¾ cup pasta (penne, macaroni or spaghetti)
- 1¼ cup milk full fat (refer notes)
- ¾ tbsp flour (all-purpose flour (maida) or whole wheat pastry flour)
- 2 to 4 tbsps Cheese (cheddar, cream cheese or mozarella or a mix)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp oil or butter
- ¼ tsp pepper crushed or ground
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped (optional)
- ½ tsp oregano or italian herbs
- Salt as needed
- ½ tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
- 1 cup Mix veggies (carrots, bell peppers, sweet corn & peas)(optional)
How to make the recipe
- Bring 4 to 5 cups water to a boil in a large pot along with salt.
- When the water begins to boil rapidly then add pasta.
- Cook al dente. When done, pasta should be tender yet should get a bite into it (not too soft).
- Drain off to a colander completely reserving 2 to 4 tbsp of water.
- If using veggies, chop them and set aside.
- You can also use frozen mix veggies like carrots, peas and sweet corn.
Making white sauce
- Add 1 tsp oil to a pan and saute vegetables until al dente. Set these aside.
- Set the flame to low. Add rest of the butter to the pan and saute the garlic for a minute if using. Then add flour.
- Saute it in butter until the raw smell goes off. The flour may turn slightly lumpy.
- Just break up the lumps and continue to saute until it no more smells raw.
- Make sure the color of the flour doesn't change.
- Pour ¼ cup of milk. Whisk continuously breaking up the lumps. I used a spatula to break up the flour.
- When you see the flour is well blended with milk, pour rest of the milk and mix well.
- Cook this until the sauce turns slightly thick.
- Add cheese if using and gently stir until the mixture reaches a thick sauce consistency.
- Next add oregano and ground pepper. Switch off the stove.
How to make white sauce pasta
- Add more salt if needed along with veggies & cooked pasta.
- Mix well to coat the pasta with the creamy sauce.
- If the sauce is too thick then, you may add 1 to 2 tbsps of reserved hot pasta cooked water.
- Sprinkle red chili flakes.
- Serve white sauce pasta immediately.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- If you do not prefer to use regular dairy milk in this recipe, then soak about 12 to 15 almonds for 2 hours in warm water.
- Remove the skin and blend them with just 1/4 cup water to a smooth paste. Then mix with 1 cup water and make it 1 1/4 cup as needed in the recipe.
- If your blender does not blend almonds well then you may need to filter the milk and use. A mini blender or a bullet works good for this.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
If you are new to cooking, follow my detailed step by step photo instructions for best results.
1. Add salt to 4 to 5 cups of water and bring it to a rapid boil .
2. Then add pasta. I used organic pasta. Cook as per instructions until done al dente.
3. Drain to a colander and reserve some water.
4. Pour oil to a pan.
5. Saute mixed vegetables until they are slightly tender yet crunchy. Set these aside.
How to make white sauce pasta
6. Add more butter and then saute the garlic for a minute. I did not use garlic. Then add flour. To make white sauce a generous amount of butter is used to dissolve the flour. I had to reduce it due to personal preference.
7. Saute well until the flour loses the raw smell.
8. Lower the flame completely and add ¼ cup milk.
9. Begin to stir with a spatula and dissolve the flour completely without any lumps.
10. Pour the rest of the milk and stir. Do not pour milk at this stage until you break up the lumps of flour and dissolve it completely.
11. Cook this until the sauce slightly thickens.
12. Add cheese if using. Also add pepper and oregano.
13. If needed add salt. Mix well until the cheese blends well. If the bechamel sauce is too thick you can add the reserved pasta cooked water/ stock. Switch off the stove.
14. Add vegetables and pasta to the white sauce.
15. Mix the pasta well. If needed you can add more pasta cooked water to make it creamy.
Garnish white sauce pasta with red chilli flakes and crushed pepper.