Homemade Cheese Sauce Recipe

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Homemade cheese sauce is much more flavorful than the sauce from a can and it’s a snap to make. Find out how to make cheese sauce from scratch.

Table of Contents
  1. About this cheese sauce recipe:
  2. What is cheese sauce?
  3. Ingredients
  4. Make Cheese Sauce from Scratch
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Storage Instructions
  8. Homemade Cheese Sauce – 6 Ingredients Recipe
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Other Easy Dip Recipes

Cheese sauce is a staple in all homes and restaurants. It can be used as a topping for dishes or can be mixed into a variety of recipes. It goes well with nachos, fries or as a dipping sauce for bread. But it is also excellent served over healthy veggies such as steamed broccoli.

Our homemade cheese sauce has just 6 ingredients (two of which are salt and pepper). It’s quick and easy. You’ll love it.

cheese sauce in a saucepan with a ladle

About this cheese sauce recipe:

  • Flavor: Cheese, butter and milk. This cheese sauce has a simple, rich flavor and the cheese takes center stage.
  • Texture: If you make this sauce correctly, it is smooth and creamy. I’ll give you the tips on how to do it below.

What is cheese sauce?

Variations on cheesy sauce is popular in many different cultures. The base, however, is a simple mixture of cheese, butter, flour and milk. You start by making a roux of flour and milk. This is wakes cheese sauce thick. This all melts together on the stovetop to create a delicious topping for many dishes, or a base sauce to macaroni and cheese.

Ingredients

What is cheese sauce made of? It’s made of household staple items that you most likely have in your fridge and pantry. There’s just 6 ingredients.

  • Butter. Use real butter, not margarine. I keep salted butter on hand, but you can use unsalted and it will work the same.
  • Flour. All-purpose flour. I have not tried any gluten free flours or nut flours.
  • Milk. The higher fat the milk, the creamier the cheese sauce will be (and honestly, the better!). I used whole milk as a middle ground, but 2%, half and half or heavy cream will work as well.
  • Cheese. Freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese is my standard. Monterey Jack, Swiss cheese and even fancier cheeses like gruyere work, too. Shred the cheese from a block of cheese for the best results.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.

Make Cheese Sauce from Scratch

This is a cheese sauce recipe without processed cheese. See our recipe variations below if you want an extra creamy and smooth sauce (like nacho cheese sauce). You can do this by adding a small amount of American cheese.

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk quickly until smooth. Continue to cook this flour mixture over low heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. This is important so that the sauce doesn’t taste like flour.
  • Add ¼ cup of the milk and whisk until all of the lumps are gone.
  • Add another ½ cup of milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Then add the remaining milk. Cook and stir over medium low heat until the mixture starts steaming and thickening. This will take 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the mixture has thickened slightly, remove the pan from the stovetop and add the cheese in ¼ cup increments and mix until melted and smooth. 

Please note:

The milk mixture should be hot enough to remove from the stovetop and still melt the cheese in. If not, put it back on the warm burner, but have the heat off. This will help prevent the cheese from separating.

Serving Suggestions

This is delicious served as a party appetizer with sourdough bread, tortilla chips or Italian bread. Think cheese fondue on a charcuterie board with pepperoni, veggies and bread & crackers.

Also serve it with:

cheese sauce over broccoli in a bowl

Recipe Variations

You can change the cheese for a different flavored cheese, but here are a few add-ins for different flavor:

  • Add a teaspoon or two of mustard such as dijon or spicy brown mustard.
  • Add a teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Love spice? Try adding jalapeño, smoked paprika, chili powder or a chipotle pepper for spice and heat.
  • For a pop of flavor, add a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.

Storage Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat.

a hand holding bread dipping in cheese fondue
a hand holding bread dipping in cheese fondue

Homemade Cheese Sauce – 6 Ingredients

5 from 1 vote
Homemade cheese sauce is much more flavorful than from a can and it's a snap to make. Find out how to make cheese sauce from scratch.
Servings 10
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese 8 ounces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and whisk quickly until smooth. Continue to cook this flour mixture over low heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. This is important so that the sauce doesn't taste like flour.
  • Add ¼ cup of the milk and whisk until all of the lumps are gone.
  • Add another ½ cup of milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Then add the remaining milk. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until the mixture starts steaming and thickening. This will take 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the mixture has thickened slightly, remove the pan from the stovetop and add the cheese in ¼ cup increments and mix until melted and smooth. Please note: the milk mixture should be hot enough to remove from the stovetop and still melt the cheese in. If not, put it back on the warm burner, but have the heat off. This will help prevent the cheese from separating.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

Up to ½ teaspoon of salt, especially if butter is unsalted and veggies are unsalted that you are putting it on.
Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 10, with 1 serving being 1/10 of the sauce. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 240mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 366IU | Calcium: 213mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Calories 143
Keyword cheese dip, sauce recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cheese sauce tastes floury?

This can happen if the roux (the flour & butter mixture in the first step) is not cooked long enough. You should allow the roux to cook for several minutes, whisking constantly. Smell it. Does it smell like flour? Let it cook for another couple of minutes. It may get a little browned and that’s ok.

My cheese sauce isn’t smooth. Can I fix it?

Homemade cheese sauce made without processed cheese usually has a slight texture to it. However, it shouldn’t separate and be clumpy. If the cheese sauce has separated, it is likely that the stove heat was too high. It may be curdled.

Immediately take the sauce off the heat, and add a splash of cold milk to lower the temperature. Whisk quickly.

If that doesn’t work, you can try adding a tablespoon of flour and whisk that in quickly.

If neither of those things work, the sauce may be beyond repair. To save it, you could strain it through a sieve to get out any clumps.

If you have any tips on fixing broken cheese sauce, let us know in the comments below.

Can I add beer for beer cheese?

Yes! For beer cheese, use one cup of milk and ¾ cup beer. Continue with the recipe as it states.

Can I use this for mac and cheese?

Yes. Pour this cheese sauce over any pasta for a quick homemade macaroni and cheese.

How do I make my cheese creamier?

Want creamier cheese? Add 2-3 slices of American cheese. It really makes a difference in the creamy texture of the sauce. It adds a familiar flavor as well.

Other Easy Dip Recipes

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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