Several years ago I took three cooking classes in Paris. My favorite of the three was the French Sauces class. We covered all of the mother sauces, and a few bonuses for good measure. And then we tore up the baguettes we had just baked and dipped them into all of our sauces.
It was one of the best days of my life, obviously.
This 10-minute creamy parmesan garlic sauce sauce is a actually a mornay sauce, which we made in Paris on that glorious day.
Mother sauces might sound complicated and fancy, so let me assure you this is a ridiculously simple recipe. The whole thing can be on the table in 10 minutes for those busy weeknight dinners that deserve a delicious touch. I've also added lemon zest to the sauce, which makes it ideal for pairing with seafood dishes.
My favorite vehicles for this sauce are Shrimp and Crab Stuffed Salmon or Stuffed Shrimp Casserole. But it's equally delicious as a pasta sauce over linguine with shrimp and broccoli, or, with some modifications (listed below), the sauce for a delicious white pizza.
Ingredients for making Parmesan Sauce:
How to Make this Creamy Sauce:
Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. If using, add 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed.
Once butter melts, add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.
Use a wire whisk to stir and let the roux cook for about 90 seconds.
Gradually stream in 1 ½ cups whole milk, whisking as you pour.
Let the sauce come up to a simmer, stirring frequently.
Add half of the Parmesan cheese and whisk to combine.
Add the second half of cheese, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
Whisk to combine. Taste and add a few pinches of salt, if needed. Remove the crushed garlic clove.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
What can I serve with this sauce?
In addition to the salmon dish pictured above, this versatile sauce would be delicious with almost any quick pasta or seafood. For example the Panko Baked Cod or a substitute for the lemon sauce in baked tilapia with lemon butter. If you're looking for a white pizza sauce, start by adding just 1 cup of milk (instead of 1 ½ cups) and simmer for a few minutes. Then test to determine if that is the right texture for your sauce. For a pizza sauce application, you could add a few pinches of dried Italian seasoning or fresh basil to the sauce, as well. For a garlic olive oil sauce for pizza, check this recipe.
Can I add more garlic?
If you're looking for a creamy garlic sauce with even more garlic flavor, mince the garlic clove when adding it to the butter. You can also increase the number of garlic cloves to your liking, or add ½ teaspoon of garlic powder to the sauce. Just be sure if you're mincing the garlic to let it cook in the butter gently for 2-3 minutes before adding the flour and making the roux. If you have roasted garlic in the refrigerator just begging for a home, this sauce would be a welcoming place for it, as well.
Can I make this sauce recipe spicy?
A pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper will add heat to this sauce. I don't add black pepper to this white sauce, but for that subtle pepper heat, add a pinch here, or opt for white pepper.
Could I add fresh herbs to the sauce?
Basil would be delicious, especially if you're tossing gnocchi into the sauce. Fresh thyme would add a beautiful woodsy note when serving with fish.
Can I use heavy cream or half and half in the sauce?
I like the simplicity and the consistency of this creamy sauce when using whole milk. But if you have heavy whipping cream or half and half on hand, feel free to use it for half of the liquid mixture, and plan to use veggie broth for the other half of the liquid. Be sure to taste before seasoning as the stock will add salt to the sauce. If you're cooking for non-pescatarians, chicken broth is another good option in this creamy parmesan sauce.
What other cheese could I use in this sauce?
I have used Grana Padano with good results. It is milder than parmesan, so I might add a bit more cheese and an extra pinch of salt to balance the flavors. Pecorino Romano and Asiago would be good options, as well.
Can I add wine to the sauce?
If you're looking for the acidic complexity that wine brings to a sauce, add 1-2 tablespoons after sautéing the garlic in melted butter. Let the wine reduce almost completely before adding the flour for the roux.
To store, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, add to a small saucepan over low heat and add a tablespoon or two of milk to loosen the sauce as it heats. Taste and adjust seasoning.Print