If you’re craving indulgent cheesy pasta, a generous serving of loaded nachos, or a delightful accompaniment for your roasted veggies or air-fried broccoli, look no further than this cheese sauce recipe. It’s a true kitchen staple—easy to make, uncomplicated, and unbelievably delicious. Having this recipe in your repertoire is simply a must for any cheese lover.
The cheese sauce is a versatile, creamy condiment that adds rich, cheesy flavor to various dishes. It is made with melted butter, flour, milk, and shredded cheese and offers a smooth and luscious texture. Whether drizzled over nachos, smothered on macaroni, or used as a dip, cheese sauce elevates the taste and appeal of any meal. With a touch of seasoning, it’s a quick and easy way to bring cheesy goodness to your favorite dishes.
Cheese Sauce Ingredients
These ingredients combine harmoniously to create a delectable cheese sauce that can be used in various dishes or enjoyed independently.
Butter: The melted butter serves as the base for the sauce, adding richness and a smooth texture to the cheese sauce.
Flour: When combined with the butter, flour acts as a thickening agent, helping to create a creamy consistency for the sauce.
Milk: It is added to the sauce to create a luscious and pourable texture. It also helps to balance the flavors and provides a creamy base for the melted cheese.
Shredded Cheese: The star of the sauce, shredded cheese adds the distinct and savory flavor that makes cheese sauce so irresistible. Cheddar, Colby, or a combination of cheeses can create a deliciously melty and gooey sauce.
Salt and Pepper: These simple seasonings enhance the flavors of the sauce, adding a touch of balance and allowing the cheese to shine.
What To Serve With Cheese Sauce?
These suggestions offer a range of options to enjoy cheese sauce, from savory snacks to comforting meals and flavorful accompaniments.
Nachos: Pour the cheese sauce over a plate of crispy tortilla chips and top with diced tomatoes, jalapenos, and guacamole for a tasty and satisfying snack or appetizer.
Macaroni and Cheese: Combine the cheese sauce with cooked macaroni for the ultimate comfort food. Bake it with a breadcrumb topping for a crunchy finish.
Steamed Vegetables: Drizzle the cheese sauce over steamed broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots to add a creamy and flavorful element to your vegetable side dish.
Baked Potatoes: Pour the cheese sauce over a baked potato and some crispy bacon bits and chives for a delightful and indulgent twist on a classic.
Pretzels: Use the cheese sauce as a dip for soft pretzels, providing a tangy and cheesy complement to the saltiness of the pretzel.
Tips And Tricks For The Best Cheese Sauce
Use freshly grated cheese: Freshly grated cheese melts more smoothly and creates a creamier sauce than pre-packaged shredded cheese.
Gradually add the cheese: Add the shredded cheese in small batches, allowing each batch to melt completely before adding more. This helps prevent clumping and ensures a smooth texture.
Use low heat: Keep the heat low while melting the cheese to prevent it from becoming stringy or grainy.
Choose the right cheese: Experiment with different cheeses or a combination of cheeses to find the perfect flavor and meltability for your sauce.
Season at the end: Taste the sauce before adding salt and pepper, as some cheeses can be salty. Adjust the seasoning at the end to achieve the desired taste.
Thin with milk if needed: If the sauce becomes too thick, add a splash of milk and gently heat it to reach the desired consistency without compromising the flavor.
Spicy Jalapeno Cheese Sauce: Add diced jalapenos or a dash of hot sauce to the basic cheese sauce recipe for a zesty and fiery twist.
Smoky Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Sauce: Stir in crispy cooked bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese for a deliciously smoky and savory cheese sauce.
Garlic Parmesan Cheese Sauce: Sauté minced garlic in the butter before adding flour, then mix in grated Parmesan cheese for a flavorful and creamy sauce with a hint of garlic.
Herb-infused Cheese Sauce: Infuse the milk with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary, then strain them out before making the cheese sauce for a subtle herbaceous flavor.
How To Store Leftover Cheese Sauce?
Let it cool: Allow the cheese sauce to cool completely before storing it to prevent condensation and maintain its texture.
Transfer to an airtight container: Place the cooled sauce in a tightly sealed container to keep it fresh and prevent air exposure.
Refrigerate promptly: Store the cheese sauce in the refrigerator within two hours of preparation to prevent bacterial growth.
Use within 3-4 days: Consume the leftover cheese sauce within 3-4 days for the best quality and flavor.
Reheat gently: When ready to use, reheat the sauce slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating and to prevent separation.
Adjust consistency if needed: If the sauce thickens in the refrigerator, add a splash of milk or cream while reheating to restore its desired consistency.
Freeze for longer storage: If you want to store the sauce for an extended period, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Cheese Sauce Recipe
- Medium-sized saucepan
- Whisk or wooden spoon for stirring
- Measuring spoons
- Grater (if shredding cheese from a block)
- Heat-resistant spatula or ladle for pouring the cheese sauce
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby, or a combination)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Once the butter has melted, add the flour to the saucepan. Stir continuously for about 1 minute to cook the flour and create a roux. The mixture should be smooth and bubbly.
- Gradually pour in the milk while whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle simmer. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add shredded cheese a little at a time. Stir constantly until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Taste the cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper according to your preference. Remember that some cheeses can be salty, so adjust the seasoning accordingly.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the cheese sauce cool slightly. It will thicken as it cools, so if it becomes too thick, you can reheat it over low heat and add a splash of milk to thin it out.
- Pour the cheese sauce over your desired dish, such as nachos, macaroni, or vegetables. It can also be used as a dip for bread or pretzels.
Nutritional Facts for Cheese Sauce (per 1/4 cup serving)
- Calories: 100-150 calories
- Total Fat: 8-12 grams
- Saturated Fat: 5-8 grams
- Cholesterol: 20-30 milligrams
- Sodium: 200-300 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 3-5 grams
- Protein: 4-6 grams