A reader wrote recently seeking a low carb version of Sauce Mornay, the classic creamy cheesy topper for steamed veggies and seafood and anything else you’d care to drizzle it over. Since it’s the height of the farmer’s market season and fresh veggies abound, it occurred to me that instead of just responding to one reader’s comment, there might be more of you out there missing the Mornay on your fresh broccoli spears.

The Mornay sauce, believed by most authorities to have been named in honor of the 16th/17th Century French writer and diplomat, Phillipe, duc de Mornay, is nothing more than Bechamel sauce plus cheese, classically Gruyere or a combination of Parmesan and Gruyere. And Bechamel is nothing more than butter, flour, milk, and seasonings, usually salt, white pepper, and fresh nutmeg. The only carb-challenging ingredient in the whole shebang is, of course, the flour, which you can either replace with a fiber thickener, such as ThickenThin not/Starch or by using cream instead of milk and reducing it even further to thicken the sauce, which would even be better (carb-wise) than the milk anyway.

So for those of you missing your Mornay, here’s the version that we use at home.

Low Carb Sauce Mornay

Makes about 2 cups of sauce


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons* ThickenThin not/Starch

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 ounces grated cheese (Gruyere, Parmesan, White Cheddar, Emmenthaler, Fontina all would work well)

*Adjust the ThickenThin amount to achieve the thickness of sauce you desire. If you prefer not to use ThickenThin, put the cream into the pan, reduce it by half, and then add the butter, seasonings, and cheese, but realize that this will reduce the volume of the recipe by half, making only 1 cup of sauce Mornay and that you’ll have doubled the ECC cost per serving in doing so.

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat.

2. Make a roux by adding the ThickenThin and whisking until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do not let the roux brown.

3. Slowly whisk in the cream until the sauce becomes smooth and thick (2 or 3 minutes) but do not let it boil.

4. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and reduce heat to simmer for a couple of minutes. (At this point, you have made Bechamel. Stir in crumbled cooked sausage and you have sausage gravy. The problem now becomes making some low-carb buttermilk biscuits to go with the sausage gravy! But that’s another blog…on with the Mornay!)

5. Add the grated cheese(s) and stir until melted. Thin (if needed) with just a little milk and serve immediately atop steamed fresh veggies or seafood.

Protein per 1/8 cup serving: 2 grams

Effective Carbohydrate per 1/8 cup serving = 1 gram

Calories per 1/8 cup serving = 131.6
I’ve got some big fat spears of asparagus waiting in the fridge that would taste ever so lovely under a blanket of Sauce Mornay a la MD. That and a juicy roasted chicken and some fresh tomatoes sprinkled with coarse gray Celtic Salt and a big, refreshing glass of iced tea sounds like a winner for dinner tonight.


  1. Would guar or xanthan gum work in place of the ThickenThin?

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Either will work sort of, but you’ll need to go through a fair amount of trial and error to find out just how much of which to use.  They may also not work as effectively and easily as the ThickenThin; basically the folks at Expert Foods have done all the trial and error for you, combining the right fibers for the job in the right amounts and with instructions for use.  To me, at any rate, it’s worth it and so I keep a little bag of not/Sugar and of not/Starch in the kitchen cupboard all the time.  They last for a long, long time.

  2. Here’s my version:


    4 oz. cream cheese (4 net carbs)
    1 c. Hood calorie countdown (3 net carbs) or Whole Milk (11 net carbs)
    Pinch of salt
    Pinch of black pepper
    Pinch of Cayenne pepper


    Put Hood or milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once melted, whisk vigorously until smooth. Simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

    I use it in my Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich recipe: Kentucky Hotbrown

    Let me know if you think the flavor is about right. If you add parmasan cheese to this, you get a pretty good alfredo sauce.

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Thanks!  It looks good.  I always forget about the Hood’s Carb Countdown milk because it’s not available anymore in the stores where I normally shop.

  3. By the way, I also use cream cheese as a thickener in low-carb gravy. It works quite well.

    I’ve not experimented with ThicknThin’s “not starch” and “not sugar”. Both of these use a combination of acacia, guar, carob, and xanthan gums. I’m thinking of buying some xanthan gum to experiment with.

  4. I have found the gums on their own difficult to work with, as they don’t blend in nearly as easily as the TTN/S and then they tend to get “gummy” or “slimy” much more easily than the blended stuff does.

    I’ve also used Carbalose flour from Tova Industries in place of the traditional flour to make roux and it works quite nicely!

    Do you have a take on that product, Dr. MD?

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  I haven’t tried working with carbalose flour.  I’ll have to get some a give it a whirl.

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