If you’re a fan of classic French food, then chances are that you have already eaten Mornay sauce, even if you don’t know it by name. To others of you reading, you may have just stumbled across it for the first time; perhaps a recipe calls for its inclusion. But what is it exactly? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know.
So, what exactly is this Mornay Sauce? Mornay Sauce is a diary-based type of Bechamel sauce that is enriched with the addition of cheese! While you can use any semi-firm cheese for the sauce, traditional recipes use Swiss cheese or Gruyere.
So to put it simply, it’s a cheesy bechamel sauce.
Bechamel sauce is one of the 5 major sauces used in French cuisine, aka the five French mother sauces.
It’s no surprise that there a number of variations have arisen from these delicious quintessential bases.
Mornay sauce is one of them.
It’s super delicious and very versatile, and better yet – it goes well with almost any savory dish you can think of!
It comes as no surprise that even though it has French origins, it’s something you can find at pasta places, steakhouses, and even fast-food restaurants!
Maybe under a different name, but it’s all the same with a little variation from place to place.
It’s usually served alongside pasta, steaks, or it’s even served in the form of creamed vegetables!
In fact, this is the very sauce that makes the base for the traditional macaroni and cheese we all grew up eating.
By now, I’m sure you have an idea of what this sauce is like, but if you want to know more about what goes into it and how you can make some, be sure to keep reading!
What Is Mornay Sauce Made Of?
Traditionally, Mornay sauce is made in the same way Bechamel sauce is. It uses the basic ingredients of flour, butter, eggs, milk, seasoning along with the star ingredient, cheese. Most people like to use Gruyere, Swiss, or Parmesan cheese.
The sauce starts as a roux, and then you add your milk to the roux and cook it until it thickens up a little.
This is when you add your cheese and mix it all up until it’s melted and well incorporated.
For seasoning, people conventionally only use salt and pepper, but some chefs like using nutmeg, paprika, or cayenne to enhance the flavor or add a kick of spice to it.
You can also try using a combination of different cheeses since that alters the flavor and might be preferable to some people.
If you’re looking for an exact recipe for a Mornay sauce to get a better idea and illustrate what goes into it, and may be even make some, here you go:
How To Make Mornay Sauce At Home
- 2 tbsp butter (plus 2 more)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2-3 cups of full-fat milk
- 1 egg
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1-1 ½ cup semi-firm cheese of choice ( like parmesan or Gruyere)
- In a saucepan, add 2 tbsp of butter and melt it over medium heat. Then add the flour and whisk it until smooth.
- Now add the milk to this butter mixture gradually while whisking continuously
- Once you have added all the milk, stir the mixture until the roux is well incorporated and glossy
- Then let it cook for a minute or 2 until it begins to thicken up
- This is when you can add your salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir it in
- Turn off the heat and add a separated egg yolk to the sauce and mix it in
- Turn on the heat to low and gradually add your cheese
- Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth
- Taste to see if you need to adjust the seasoning, turn off the heat and enjoy!
To the same sauce, you can also add paprika or hot sauce if you need that spice kick in your food.
What Does Mornay Sauce Taste Like?
Mornay sauce is smooth, creamy, cheesy, and savory! The actual taste varies with the kind of cheese you’re using and the amount of seasoning that you add. But overall, the flavor profile is pretty consistent.
Heaven is what the sauce really tastes like!
If you want to instantly imagine what Mornay sauce tastes like, think of mac and cheese, and there you go.
Of course, the taste varies from chef to chef.
Like some people use an increased amount of cheese, making the sauce a little more tart and cheesy.
Some people like adding more salt and pepper, which makes the sauce a little more flavourful
What To Eat Mornay Sauce With
The sauce is so versatile and simple; it goes well with almost everything from grilled meat, pasta, fries, mashed potatoes, tacos, vegetables, and rice bowls! I mean, the list can go on forever, but those are a few dishes where it is most commonly used.
I believe the real question is, what can you NOT eat with Mornay sauce (except dessert, of course!)
You can use the sauce in a few different ways,
You can use it as a base for pasta dishes, rice, pizza, or saucy fries to amp up the whole dish.
If too much cheese isn’t your thing, you can use it as a side serving or drizzle.
Serve it with a side of mashed potatoes with steak, or drizzle on top of ravioli or french fries.
You can also add a few spoonfuls to chicken or meat dishes to make them richer and creamier.
People also like to use Mornay sauce to use creamed vegetables like spinach or kale. Which also works well as a dip!
What Is Similar To Mornay Sauce?
Mornay sauce is pretty similar to the classic Bechamel, except Mornay contains cheese, giving it a whole new flavor profile. Some people also like to compare Mornay to Alfredo sauce!
Alfredo and Mornay sauce are pretty similar, and you can definitely substitute one for the other.
Mornay is more simplistic and basic, while Alfredo uses more ingredients like heavy cream, garlic powder, and other seasonings, so it has a more complex flavor.
To Wrap It Up
Mornay sauce remains a favorite amongst people with all sorts of taste palettes.
Since it’s so basic and simple, it can complement most savory dishes!
It can add this hint of richness to the dish, and you can control that by adjusting the type and quantity of cheese you’re using.
If you’ve ever had some kind of white-sauce-based dish with cheese in it, chances are you’ve probably had Mornay.
And there is a good chance you already love it!
If not, try making some at home and make your life all the better (and cheesier).
There are two potential origins of the name ‘Mornay’. The first is that it was named after the 17th Century French Diplomat, Philippe de Mornay. The second is that it was created by a French chef called Joseph Voiron of Paris. He named the sauce after his son, who was referred to as ‘Mornay’.
Mornay sauce is based on the recipe and made in the same way as béchamel, however, it also included a type of grated cheese (often Swiss cheese or Gruyere). So the difference is the cheese.
Interested in learning about more sauces? Then check out these other guides:
- What Is Bordelaise Sauce?
- What Is Chasseur Sauce?
- What Is Bearnaise Sauce?
- What Is Sauce Vierge?
- What Is Choron Sauce?
- What Is Foyot Sauce?
- What Is Espagnole Sauce?
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.