Gluten free white sauce recipe


Having a great gluten free white sauce recipe up your sleeve will come in handy many a time. After all you can dress up any meal with a sauce and make it special. 

Below the basic recipe we will look at what gluten free flours work best and how to vary the thickness for different dishes. We will also explore flavour variations and offer some tips for successful gluten free sauce making. 

Basic gluten free white sauce recipe

There are two main methods of making a sauce.

  1. Start with a roux - where equal amounts of fat and flour are cooked together.
  2. Start with a raw paste - consisting of a starch and water

The second method tends to use cornflour or arrowroot as the starch. These work well for thickening gravies for meat dishes, as they won't make them cloudy or opaque, but are not so satisfactory for white sauces. This is because the pure starch can result in an unpleasant grittiness.

Starting with a roux is more successful, so let's look at this method of creating our gluten free white sauce recipe.


  • 3/4oz butter
  • 3/4oz gluten free flour (or flour mix)
  • 1/2 pint milk (or milk substitute)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roux Method

Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat until it is just melted. To keep your sauce white, do not let the fat sizzle !

Remove from the heat and stir in the gluten free flour. Return to the heat and cook through for 2 minutes. 

Whisk in half the milk, a little at a time, using a balloon whisk, then add the rest and pop the pan back on the heat. Stir this over a moderate heat until it comes to the boil. Continue to cook, for 1-2 minutes then season to taste.

What gluten free flour to use?

I had always used white rice flour when making white sauces, but I discovered that Glutinous rice flour (also known as sweet rice flour) was considered a better option. I was told this is because it becomes sticky when heated, which helps to bind the sauce, giving a smooth, velvety end result. After trying it, I will never go back to basic white rice flour! Sweet rice flour thickens the sauce quickly and smoothly with absolutely no grittiness. 

Both of these flours need to be cooked completely before eating and never consumed raw. This is why we cook the flour and fat mixture for a couple of minutes before introducing the milk to the pan. However, cooking it for too long will reduce the thickening ability of the flour and darken the resulting sauce. 

The consistency of your sauce

Talking of thickening ability - for what purpose are you making your gluten free white sauce recipe? 


For some purposes you will want a flowing sauce to serve as an accompaniment to a meal. In this case you need to use 1/2 oz butter, just under 1/2 oz flour and 1/2 pint liquid.


A coating white sauce recipe needs to be slightly thicker so that it clings to things such as fillets of fish, eggs or vegetables. This time you need 3/4oz butter, just under 3/4oz flour to the same 1/2 pint of liquid.


A Panada is a really thick sauce, used for binding such things as croquettes. Here we would use 1.5 to 2 oz butter and just under 1.5 to 2 oz flour to our 1/2 pint of liquid.

Variations on your gluten free white sauce recipe

Cheese Sauce Recipe (Mornay)

To the white sauce recipe above add...

  • 1 to 1.5oz (2-3 rounded tablespoons) grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard

Stir the cheese into the basic white sauce. Then mix in the mustard. Reheat, but do not boil. Ideal for cauliflower cheese, as in the photo. 

Parsley Sauce

This sauce makes a wonderful accompaniment to white fish. This time add

  • 1-2 tablespoons of chopped parsley (either curly or flat leaved)

to the thickened sauce.

Anchovy Sauce


  • 1 teaspoon of anchovy essence,
  • or a few chopped anchovies, the sauce once it has thickened. This also makes a lovely sauce to serve with fish.

Mustard Sauce

This time we need to add gluten free dry mustard powder, about 1 dessertspoon, to the flour. Add this mixture to the melted butter in the pan to make the roux.

Continue as for the basic white sauce recipe, stirring in a little single cream before serving over oily fish, such as mackerel or herring.

If you can't find gluten free dry mustard powder then add wholegrain mustard at the same time as the cream instead. 

Horseradish Sauce

A sauce with some tang to it! Traditionally served with roast beef at Sunday lunch in the UK.

  • 1 desert spoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated horseradish root
  • a splash of double cream
  • a pinch of sugar

Whisk the vinegar to the hot sauce, along with the grated horseradish. After removing the pan from the heat, stir in the cream and sugar before serving.


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