This oat milk bechamel recipe creates an easy dairy free and vegan sauce that’s ultra creamy. It’s perfect to use for pasta, pizza, lasagna or any recipe that could use a rich and delicious sauce.
Bechamel, often called “white sauce”, is one of the main sauces in French cuisine. While it’s typically made with lots of dairy-based ingredients, making a vegan version is simple!
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Can You Make Bechamel with Oat Milk?
The short answer is absolutely! Oat milk is a great plant-based milk option for creating bechamel sauce. It’s fairly creamy to begin with and can make for a rich and delicious white sauce.
The slight drawback to using oat milk for a bechamel sauce is that even unsweetened oat milk has some sweetness to it. This is from the carbohydrates (sugar) in oats.
To balance the sweetness of the oat milk, add an acidic ingredient (like lemon juice or vinegar) to your sauce. This is done at the end of cooking, and is optional to use, but I highly recommend it!
Ingredients and Substitutions for This Recipe
This recipe uses 6 basic required ingredients, with the option of 2 additional ingredients.
Required Oat Milk Bechamel Ingredients
The main ingredients for a classic-tasting oat milk bechamel include:
- Vegan butter: To make bechamel, start with a roux (flour cooked in butter). Vegan butter is the best choice for this recipe as it most closely replicates the flavors of dairy butter. You may also use vegan margarine. Technically, any oil or liquid fat can work but it’s essential to coat the flour in some type of fat. If using oil, the flavor of the oil will come through in the final sauce, so strongly flavored oils like olive oil will make for a very different tasting bechamel.
- All-purpose flour: Flour is the key to getting a rich, thick sauce and all-purpose flour is the best choice for this recipe. I haven’t tested this recipe with any other type of flour and wouldn’t recommend using anything other than all-purpose flour.
- Oat milk: Of course, you’ll need oat milk to make this sauce. Buy an unsweetened and unflavored oat milk.
- Salt: You’ll also need salt to enhance the basic flavors in this bechamel recipe. Adjust the amount of salt to your taste preferences.
- White pepper: As this is a white sauce, it’s typical to use white pepper to keep the appearance of the sauce white. Black pepper is fine to use but black flecks of pepper will be more noticeable in the sauce.
- Nutmeg: Classic white sauce uses a pinch of nutmeg for fantastic flavor. This is technically optional, but I love the flavor nutmeg adds to creamy sauces.
Optional Flavor Boosters
Some optional, but highly recommend ingredients are:
- Nutritional yeast: If you plan to serve this recipe as a pasta sauce as-is (not adding additional flavorings) I highly recommend adding nutritional yeast to the sauce. Nutritional yeast adds a fantastic cheesy flavor. Please note nutritional yeast is a flaky yellow seasoning and is not the same as baking yeast; these ingredients can not be substituted for one another.
- Lemon juice: Some acidity from lemon juice really enhances the flavors of this sauce and helps balance out any sweetness from the oat milk. Just make sure to add lemon juice at the very end of cooking (once the sauce is thickened). A small amount of any type of vinegar could also be used, depending on the flavors you want in your sauce. Start with 1 teaspoon of vinegar, if using, and add more if needed.
How to Make Bechamel with Oat Milk
This recipe is simple to make but can seem intimidating if you’ve never made a roux-based sauce before. The key to getting a smooth, thick sauce is to whisk vigorously at each step (each time you add a new ingredient).
Step 1: Prepare Roux
Melt vegan butter in a medium-sized sauce pot or pan, over medium heat. Once melted and slightly bubbling, add flour.
Whisk the flour into your butter until a smooth paste forms. This is called a roux. Let this cook for about 1 minute, until the roux starts to bubble; whisk regularly as this cooks.
Step 2: Make Bechamel Sauce
For best results, use room temperature (or warm) oat milk. If your oat milk is cold, warm it in the microwave or over low heat in a separate small stovetop pot. Adding cold liquid to your roux is not ideal.
Start by adding about ½ cup (125 milliliters) of oat milk to the roux, whisking constantly (don’t stop whisking). Whisk until you have a smooth paste. This first ½ cup of liquid should thicken quickly into a paste.
Then add another ½ cup of the oat milk. Again, whisk constantly and vigorously until you have a smooth, thick paste (it’ll be slightly thinner than before but still pasty).
Now add the rest of your oat milk. Keep whisking vigorously until the sauce is completely smooth.
Once smooth, whisk regularly (every 30 seconds or so) while the sauce cooks for 12-15 minutes. The sauce should eventually thicken until it coats a spoon.
It’ll seem like the sauce doesn’t thicken much in the beginning. Most of the thickening happens in the last few minutes of cooking, so be patient!
The sauce will continue to thicken slightly as it cools. Once thick, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Step 3: Add Optional Flavorings
If using, now is the time to add the optional nutritional yeast and/or lemon juice. Whisk these until evenly mixed through the sauce.
Taste the sauce and adjust any seasonings to your liking.
If you find the sauce is slightly sweet, add extra acid (lemon juice or vinegar) in small amounts until the sweetness balances out. Oat milk, even when unsweetened, has some sugars in it.
Don’t add extra salt to balance out sweetness. Extra salt is fine if you want the sauce saltier but won’t do much to cancel sweetness.
How to Serve Oat Milk Bechamel
This bechamel made with oat milk is great to use in the same way you’d use any type of bechamel sauce.
It’s a fantastic pasta sauce if you simply add nutritional yeast and lemon juice. It can also work as the base for a classic vegan cheese sauce. Simply add an extra ½ cup of oat milk and 1 ½ - 2 cups of your favorite vegan cheese shreds. Season to your liking.
Bechamel is also classically used for lasagna or as a pizza sauce. Oat milk bechamel works great for both options.
Get creative with how you use white sauce! Add to any recipe that would benefit from a creamy sauce.
It’s tasty to add to soups or use as the base for a creamy soup. It can also work as the base for a creamy, savory pie like vegan chicken pot pie.
If you like a creamy sauce with vegetables, this is a great vegan option for that too!
Dairy Free Bechamel Variations
There are plenty of ways to make dairy free bechamel. Oat milk is just one of the many choices.
You can check out my recipe for soy milk bechamel if you like!
Other plant-based milks should work for this recipe too. I haven’t tested them, but this sauce is thickened by flour so any plant-based milk should thicken into a creamy sauce.
The creamier your milk is to start with, the better your results will be (if you’re looking for rich and delicious sauce).
How to Store Leftover Oat Bechamel
Refrigerate leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The sauce becomes thicker when cold.
If needed, reheat in a small pot over low heat until warmed through.
Oat Milk Bechamel
- Medium-sized sauce pot (or pan)
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
Required Bechamel Ingredients
- ¼ cup vegan butter (60 grams)*
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (30 grams)
- 2 ½ cups oat milk , at room temperature** (625 milliliters)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon ground white pepper ***
- 1/16-⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Optional Flavor Boosters
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (10 grams)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (15 milliliters)
Step 1: Prepare Roux
- Melt vegan butter in a small sauce pot or pan, over medium heat.¼ cup vegan butter
- Whisk in flour until there are no clumps left and you have a thick paste.3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Cook for 1 minute, whisking regularly. The paste should start to bubble and thicken further.
Step 2: Make Oat Milk Bechamel
- Slowly pour in ½ cup of the oat milk while whisking continuously. Continue to whisk, making sure there are no clumps, until the sauce thickens into a paste.2 ½ cups oat milk
- Add another ½ cup of oat milk, whisking constantly (making sure there are zero clumps) until the sauce thickens once again into a paste.
- Next, pour in the rest of the milk (about 1 ½ cups) and whisk until there are no clumps.
- Cook the sauce for 12-15 minutes, whisking regularly until the sauce is thickened and coats a spoon. Whisk vigorously towards the end of the cook time as the sauce thickens.
- When the sauce is thickened, remove the pot from heat and whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.1 teaspoon salt, ⅛-¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, 1/16-⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Step 3: Add Optional Flavor Boosters
- If using, add nutritional yeast and/or lemon juice.2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Taste the sauce and adjust flavors to your liking.
- If you find the sauce tastes sweet (oat milk, even unsweetened, has some sugar in it) add additional acid (lemon juice or vinegar) in small increments. Don’t add extra salt to balance out the sweetness (you can add extra salt for saltiness if you like but it may enhance the sweet flavor).
**Select an unsweetened and unflavored oat milk.
***Or black pepper. Accuracy of nutrition information cannot be guaranteed (certain ingredients may not have all nutrients listed in the database); amounts may vary (and will vary depending on brands of ingredients used); all nutrition fact values rounded to the nearest whole number.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a long-time vegan with a Masters of Science in Food and Nutrition.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes.