Here’s a real time-saver! With three ingredients and two zaps in the microwave, you can have a versatile white sauce without standing over a pot on the stove, stirring for what seems like forever. And if you can make a decent white sauce, you’re in good shape to throw together a casserole from whatever else is on hand or to gussy up some otherwise unexciting leftovers.

Basic White Sauce

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt 1/4 cup of butter or margarine. Stir in 4 heaping Tablespoons of flour, then add 3 cups of milk. Microwave on High for 4 minutes. Take it out and beat well with a whisk, then microwave the sauce for another 4 minutes or until thickened.

Here are a few favourite variations on the basic recipe:

Clam Sauce for Pasta

Cook a bit of finely grated onion and/or a bit of pressed garlic with the butter, stir in some canned clams half-way through the cooking time, and toss your sauce with hot pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese or a bit of fresh parsley, if you want to be fancy.

Quick Mushroom Sauce

Prepare as for the clam sauce, above, but stir in some canned or sautéed mushrooms instead of the clams. Mushroom sauce makes a great disguise for last night’s chicken or pork roast.


This is the quickest way I know to make an old-fashioned homemade macaroni-and-cheese, a family favourite. Just boil up the macaroni while you’re preparing the white sauce, and add a generous amount of grated cheese to the sauce when it starts to thicken. Combine the two, and that’s it. To get fancy for company, you can top it with buttered crumbs and set it briefly under the broiler to brown.

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