My grandma made the best bread sauce, rich and creamy with wonderful flavour, no Christmas dinner was ever without it, here I’m sharing her easy bread sauce recipe, you’ll love it.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- No turkey dinner is complete without classic bread sauce and this recipe for traditional bread sauce really is a good one.
- Quick and easy to make, watch my step-by-step video on how to make this simple bread sauce, it couldn’t be easier.
- Forget that horrible wallpaper paste like sauce you buy in the supermarkets, homemade bread sauce is the best!
No Christmas dinner here in the UK is complete without turkey and all the trimmings. And those trimmings mean not just the usual side dishes but those all-important sauces. From that delicious gravy to cranberry sauce and of course this homemade bread sauce.
When I was a little girl my big job in the Christmas dinner preparations was sticking the cloves into the onion for Grandma’s bread sauce. Boy did I feel important standing on a stool in the kitchen being a Christmas cook!
What is bread sauce?
Bread sauce dates right back to medieval times when cooks would come up with all sorts of ways to use up their valuable ingredients and bread was no exception.
They would make a simple bread sauce by mixing stale breadcrumbs with milk and spices.
Bread sauce should look a wee bit like porridge and not be that hideously smooth paste you buy in plastic tubs from the supermarket.
A really good traditional bread sauce is lightly fragrant from the nutmeg, pepper, thyme and bay. Although it is a rich and creamy sauce, bread sauce shouldn’t be claggy and heavy.
Ingredients for homemade bread sauce
There aren’t many ingredients in a traditional bread sauce recipe. Bread is of course the most important ingredient.
Bread is the star of the show here for your bread sauce recipe. See my notes on the best bread to use.
The spices – bread sauce needs a hit of spice and nutmeg is the most important for that wonderful festive fragrance. Black pepper and cloves add some heat and bay and thyme are the herb component in a good bread sauce recipe.
Milk – use whole milk for a nice creamy bread sauce, though a semi skimmed milk will work too. Just avoid skimmed milk when making bread sauce as it is basically white water.
Cream – I have used single cream in my easy bread sauce recipe. Some folks use double cream (heavy cream in USA) but my family have always used single cream for bread sauce and I still hold by that.
Onion and garlic add their own base flavour.
What type of bread do you use for making bread sauce?
Use plain white bread to make your bread sauce. While brown bread is a healthy choice for your sandwiches etc for bread sauce you want white bread as bread sauce is traditionally a white sauce.
Originally bread sauce was made with stale bread as using up old bread to thicken sauces and soups was just a matter of simple economics.
Just use the body of the bread and not the crusts to make your bread sauce otherwise you will get specks of crust colouring in your sauce.
Use good quality white bread, nasty thin synthetic type bread doesn’t give a good crumb and little taste.
I always have a bag of breadcrumbs in my freezer. I hate wasting anything and bread is no exception. So whenever I have any leftover bread I whizz it up in the food processor and pop it into a freezer bag and into the freezer and then I have ready-made breadcrumbs on hand all the time.
The complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this recipe can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to make homemade bread sauce
It really is super easy to make your own Christmas bread sauce. There is no crushing of garlic or tiny chopping of onion.
Simply cut the onion into a few pieces and either stud these with the cloves or just throw the cloves into the mix. It was always just tradition that bread sauce was made with an onion studded with cloves. This would be back when folks were making huge amounts of the sauce and it would just be easier to throw in whole onions with the cloves stuck into them.
I just put my onion and garlic (peeled but not chopped) into a small pan along with the butter and milk.
Add the bay leaf and some thyme and your peppercorns and heat till the butter has melted then bring to the boil and lower the temperature to a simmer for 15 minutes.
What you are doing here is infusing the milk with all those wonderful flavours of the herbs, cloves, onion and garlic. This in turn will give your bread sauce a gorgeous flavor.
Now scoop the solids out of the pan with a slotted spoon or pour the milk through a sieve and then return it to the pan and discard the solids.
Add your breadcrumbs to the infused milk and stir through to warm them up for about 2 minutes. Your bread sauce should look a little like porridge.
Finally, add the grated nutmeg and the single cream and your bread sauce is done.
Serve your bread sauce either hot or warm alongside the turkey and the rest of the trimmings for Christmas dinner.
What to serve bread sauce with
Don’t just think that your bread sauce should only be confined to the plate with the turkey on it. Far from it, bread sauce is wonderful with baked ham which is of course another festive favourite.
You can serve bread sauce with any roast, from beef to pork, lamb to chicken.
Can you make bread sauce ahead of Christmas
Yes, make your bread sauce up to 2 days before Christmas and just keep it in a covered container in the fridge ready to warm up on the big day.
What to do with leftover bread sauce
Never let this lovely Christmas sauce go to waste. Serve up leftover bread sauce on those turkey sandwiches that are brimming with stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Add bread sauce to a ham sandwich.
Turn leftover bread sauce into croquettes with scraps of turkey, leftover sprouts and pigs in blankets. Chop everything up and roll into balls with the bread sauce as the binding agent. Dip in egg and add breadcrumbs for a tasty fritter. You can also do this with leftover ham instead of turkey. It makes a nice change from the usual bubble and squeak on Boxing Day.
Can you freeze bread sauce?
Yes, this is a freezable bread sauce recipe. Simply pop the leftover bread sauce into a freezer-proof bag or box and it can be frozen for up to 4 months. Defrost and heat thoroughly before using.
Looking for other festive side dishes? Then check these out before you go;
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Easy Homemade Christmas Bread Sauce
- 400 ml milk
- 30 g butter
- 1/2 onion peeled
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 150 g white breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp cream single cream
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- You can half the half onion, roughly chop or leave it as it is and either stud with the cloves or just put them in with other ingredients
- Heat the milk and butter with bay leaf, thyme, garlic, onion, cloves and pepper corns and bring to boil then lower heat to a simmer for 15 minutes to infuse the milk with all the flavourings
- Remove all solids with a slotted spoon or pour through a sieve and return infused milk to the pan. Discard solids.
- Add breadcrumbs and heat and stir 2 minutes
- Finally, add the cream and the nutmeg and stir through before serving with another pinch of nutmeg on top and a few thyme leaves to decorate