Basic White Sauce Recipe Flour or Cornstarch?

A white sauce can be a delightful addition to any meal and for the holidays it can be the extra touch that turns a great meal into an amazing one. It's a simple recipe that is extremely versatile in its preparation and uses.

Also known as a cream sauce there are two standard ways to prepare a basic white sauce and often it is how one's family has traditionally prepared it that cooks have come to use as the standard for their method. This is however not the correct way to select the thickening agent for a sauce or gravy recipe. It is very important to know the differences between these two starches as each has its own unique properties and purpose in a recipe. 

Flour vs Cornstarch: Both are starches and both will act as a thickener but each does so in its own distinct characteristics. The reason for this difference is in their origins. Flour is made from wheat whereas corn starch just as its name implies is created from corn. Because flour contains gluten, corn is actually the purer starch of the two and as such is a more efficient thickening agent. Flour requires double the amount to that of corn starch so you would use it on a 2 to 1 standard ratio.

Key Differences:

1.Both can act as thickeners but you will require only 1/2 the cornstarch vs flour. Cornstarch will also cook much quicker than the flour, it will quickly thicken once the sauce or gravy reaches boiling point whereas flour based dishes need to simmer for about 20 minutes to fully cook.

2. Appearance and color: Cornstarch will give your sauce a clear shiny appearance whereas flour will leave a cloudy full bodied appearance. You may have noticed this difference in a Chinese sweet and sour sauce which is generally quite clear with a shiny appearance. 

3. Storage: Dishes made from cornstarch will not refrigerate or freeze well tending to take on a gummy texture as they chill. Flour is the all out winner if you are planning to store your dish after the main meal.

Peas, carrots, broccoli, and boiled baby potatoes are vegetables that are complimented when served floating in a thick white sauce. Another way to make use of a white sauce is to bake it. Scalloped potatoes with a sprinkling of bacon bits, and green onion or parsley over the top can look very seasonal. Pasta also adores being baked in this manner. A simple white sauce can be uniquely delicious in so very many different ways.

Basic Flour White Sauce Recipe

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
(salt and pepper to taste)

1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and blend flour into the butter.

2. Add milk and return to medium heat. Stir constantly till thickened. Add more milk if needed.

Basic Cornstarch White Sauce Recipe

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
(salt and pepper to taste)

1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and blend cornstarch into the butter.

2. Add milk and return to medium heat. Stir constantly till thickened. Add more milk if needed.


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