We all know that some foods do not keep well after being stored and reheated, and some foods taste just as good as when they’re fresh. So, when it comes to white sauce, you may be wondering how best to store and reheat a white sauce, along with some of the problems that can come up when things don’t go according to plan, as it can be a delicate procedure.
First off, what is white sauce exactly? A white sauce would encompass any sauce made with white roux and milk as the two main ingredients. Roux is a combination of fats from milk, like butter, mixed with an equal amount of flour to give the sauce a rich flavor and a thicker texture.
Milk-based sauces can be famously tricky to store and reuse because the natural proteins are easily affected by temperature changes, causing the sauce to split or go bad.
Keeping and reheating white sauces is possible, but you’ll want to put in some thought before you go ahead.
Method and Tips
Here are some methods and tips if you’re wondering, can you reheat white sauce. These tips can help you store and reheat your white sauce without it going bad.
Properly reheating white sauce begins not when you put it on the stove or in the microwave but starts with how you store it. Truthfully, the best way to have the sauce is right away.
Not only is the sauce fresh, but you can avoid any potential problems with reheating a well-made sauce. However, we all know that sometimes leftovers are inevitable, even when the food is delicious.
If you can, store leftover sauce by itself. The sauce can be kept in the fridge for about two to five days at most before it will need to be reheated or thrown out. You can also freeze it for a few months if need be.
Make sure to store the sauce in an airtight container regardless of whether you choose to freeze or refrigerate it.
When you go to reheat your sauce, let it sit out for a while until it is room temperature. When ready, heat it incrementally in a saucepan, stirring constantly. Don’t put the sauce on high heat immediately or it can curdle or spoil.
If the sauce is still too thick, potentially from water evaporating or the fats sticking together, add a spoonful of milk until it returns to the desired consistency.
If you want to use a microwave, heat it for no longer than a minute before pulling it out and stirring. Adjust and reheat as needed. Be aware that when using a microwave the sauce is more likely to separate the oils and spoil the sauce.
If you are reheating a sauce from frozen, it is best to defrost first, or even leave the container in a bowl of warm water for about an hour before putting it into the saucepan.
If you are heating a dish that already has a white sauce in it that could not be stored separately, still make an effort to heat the food slowly, and depending on the dish, stir. If it is too mixed in with the rest of the food, this will still be edible, but there may be a grainy texture or it may not taste as good, unfortunately.
Other changes may influence the quality and consistency of the sauce when reheated. With dairy-based sauces, slow heat is crucial to returning the sauce to its original consistency.
What To Avoid
You’ve just seen a step-by-step method to best handle reheating a white sauce, but almost as important as knowing what to do is knowing what to avoid if you haven’t been achieving the desired results.
- Do not try and reheat this too quickly.
- Avoid the microwave if you can. If using a microwave, ensure you heat it incrementally and stir between bouts in the microwave.
- Do not leave the sauce to simmer in the pan. Instead, gently stir constantly.
- Do not add water if it is dry, but milk or butter.
Here are some other frequently asked questions about reheating white sauces.
Can you reheat béchamel sauce?
Yes. You can. Béchamel is the most simple white sauce in terms of ingredients and preparations, so follow the procedures for reheating mentioned above.
Can you heat a sauce from frozen?
There are plenty of frozen dishes with a white sauce. So far, we’ve discussed heating a sauce from the refrigerator, but you can certainly do this with a frozen dish without spending hours defrosting. As mentioned above, you’ll either want to let the sauce thaw or let the container sit in a bowl of warm water.
Is it safe to reheat cheese sauce?
Yes. There are no major health issues related to reheating a white sauce. While some methods might make the sauce taste slightly different due to minor, insignificant chemical changes, unless the milk has curdled or spoiled at some point, then it will be fine.
This is true regardless of the reheating method so long as the sauce was properly stored. From a health perspective, it makes little difference whether the sauce was reheated on the stove or in the microwave, but the flavor may not be the same.
Can you reheat white sauce more than once?
Do not reheat the sauce multiple times. Repeated heating and cooling will eventually lead to a white sauce that is too altered to be pleasant. In extreme cases, this can spoil or curdle the milk inside.
Does it affect the food to heat the sauce with other food?
There are plenty of foods where you won’t be able to heat the sauce separately. Some sauces are cooked into the dish, like macaroni and cheese or lasagna al Forno. In this instance, follow the steps mentioned above and heat the food slowly to avoid breaking the sauce.
How do you reheat white sauce with pasta?
We included step-by-step instructions above focused on reheating the sauce separately, but if the sauce and pasta are already mixed and you want to reheat the whole dish, you should be careful to retain the quality.
If you are reheating a pasta dish with a sauce, leave the pasta out at room temperature rather than adding it to heat right out of the fridge. Then add the pasta and sauce into a skillet and stir constantly.
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that go into storing and especially reheating a white sauce. With so many milk-based elements, it can be tricky to handle cooling and heating the ingredients without causing things to separate, burn, or fall apart. Generally, this is best handled slowly and deliberately.
Go through each step without acting hastily. Let the sauce warm up slowly before adding it to the pan. Heat the sauce on low heat and remove from the stove before it burns.
These are simple tasks but, if you try to rush them, your sauce may not reheat the way you’d like. In this case you may be left with a grainy or broken sauce.
It is not always easy to make reheated food taste good-as-new, but by preparing and storing your sauce properly, reheating it slowly, and taking your time, you can make a leftover sauce taste good as new!