Gordon Ramsey video suggests "really cold" milk for bechamel sauce?

Did I hear correctly in this video?

Because nearly every single other source I’ve seen suggests warm milk to avoid lumps.

This NY Times article agrees with Ramsay, the author says:

“Although Julia Child taught me to add hot milk to the roux when making béchamel, I later learned that the milk should be cold or at room temperature. If the liquid is too hot, the roux won’t have time to properly disperse in the liquid before the mixture comes to a boil; this is what causes sauces to lump.”

(I’ve done it with warmed milk in the past myself without problems.)

That’s strange because there are so many sources I’ve come across (for example) that specifically make the point that the milk must be heated. This seems like an easy enough variable to test and come to agreement on.

Personally, I typically use room temperature milk (as I just did tonight to great success!), which will remain the safest option until this great debate gets resolved.

I don’t think it matters. It just takes slightly longer if you use cold milk.

I think it has been tested and agreed upon. Every modern source says use cold milk. It is only people quoting old school cookbooks who still recommend heating the milk.

IMHO the key is to add the milk in increments and make sure it’s completely incorporated at each addition. Dumping the milk in all at once is what gives you lumps.

I knew that cold liquid is less likely to form lumps, but I thought that an early stage of making bechamel was to heat the milk with some bay leaves, etc, for flavour. So then you have warm milk whether you like it or not.


This. Room temperature is fine.

I am unfortunate enough to have an electric range. If I wait for the burner to decide to cycle on and warm the pan back up every time I add a few ounces of cold milk I’ll be bitter with a sore arm and back before it’s done and I won’t enjoy the final product.

Huh. I’ve always added cold milk.

The only time I make Béchamel sauce is when I make salmon. No cheese, but I add lemon juice and dill. It gets served over the salmon, which has been baked with some kosher salt and dill.

Just watched a cooking show where the chef made a goat’s cheese souffle. She heated the bechamel milk in order to infuse it with rosemary. So I guess there really is no hard-and-fast rule governing the subject.