Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Cheddar cheese sauce is an easy, creamy, indispensable, and versatile homemade go-to in your recipe repertoire, whether destined for burgers, tater tots, broccoli, chili, nachos, cauliflower, baked potatoes…get the picture? Here’s how to make it.

Cheddar cheese sauce being ladled over a chili-topped burger.

Adapted from Spike Mendelsohn | The Good Stuff Cookbook | Wiley, 2010

This Cheddar cheese sauce creates a spectacular homemade cheese sauce so stupendously rich and gooey and versatile you’ll want to slather it onto everything by the ladleful. And when we say everything, we mean everything, including the ridiculously indulgent Uncle D’s Chili and Cheddar Burger. Or a classic Uncle D’s Chili. Or a baked potato. Or a roasted sweet potato. Or fries. Or broccoli. Or macaroni. Or nachos. Or cauliflower. Or tater tots. Or, well, use your imagination. Any which way, this recipe is a keeper. As the author says, “Warm, oozing cheese is never a bad idea.” Amen to that.–David Leite

Cheddar Cheese Sauce FAQs

Can you reheat Cheddar cheese sauce?

Reheating cheese sauce can seem like a daunting task—all that solidified dairy, seemingly immovable. But wait, it can be done. The best way to do it, is not in the microwave, but on the stovetop. Slowly reheating over low heat, and stirring frequently, is the best way to ensure a smooth sauce on the second day.

Can I make this sauce gluten-free?

Our readers have had success swapping in almond flour for the all-purpose flour here to make a gluten-free cheddar cheese sauce.

How do I avoid grainy cheese sauce?

The temperature of your sauce and the cheese are two of the biggest culprits behind grainy cheese sauce. When adding your cheese, make sure your sauce is over very low heat. You can even pull it off the heat while you’re stirring the cheese in.

Also, using low-fat or pre-shredded cheese can cause the texture to become grainy. Stick with full-fat hand-shredded Cheddar here.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Cheddar cheese sauce being ladled over a chili-topped burger.
This quick and easy cheese sauce recipe is a versatile homemade go-to to stash in your recipe repertoire. Use it top veggies, burgers, pasta, or as a stand-in for nacho cheese sauce. Here's how to make it.

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 15 mins
Condiments
American
8 servings
95 kcal
4.82 / 44 votes
Print RecipeBuy the The Good Stuff Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne or store-bought or homemade hot sauce to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
 

  • Pour the milk in a large saucepan, place it over medium heat, and let it warm until you see small bubbles forming along the edge of the pan.
  • Meanwhile, in another saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the bubbling butter and stir constantly until a thick paste, or roux, forms. It may become quite thick and almost paste-like. This is okay. And if it doesn’t become crazy thick, that’s okay, too. Expect this to take 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Constantly whisking, slowly pour the warm milk into the flour and butter mixture in a steady stream. Continue cooking and whisking almost constantly until the mixture thickens considerably, about 5 minutes. It should be thick but still spreadable and perhaps even pourable.
  • Add the cheese and whisk constantly until it completely melts. Season with the cayenne or hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. If you’re the fussy sort, you can strain the sauce through a sieve to remove any lumps before serving. The sauce will thicken even more upon cooling.
Print RecipeBuy the The Good Stuff Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cupCalories: 95kcal (5%)Carbohydrates: 2g (1%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 8g (12%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mg (8%)Sodium: 382mg (17%)Potassium: 30mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 324IU (6%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 112mg (11%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


Originally published June 17, 2010

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Switched 1 tbs of the flour for 1 tbs almond flour and added some garlic powder and paprika with shredded sharp cheddar and turned out great.

  2. 5 stars
    I halved the recipe, put a little on a baked potato w/ broccoli to see if I liked it…
    Oh my gosh it tasted soooo good! I went back and dumped almost all of it into my potato!!! Loved it!!! Great recipe! Thank you!

    1. Oh I get it, Tina. Sometimes you gotta throw the “consume-in-moderation” mantra out the window and enjoy cheese to the fullest, right? Thanks for writing!

  3. 5 stars
    This was the first roux based cheese sauce I’ve ever made, surprisingly and it was a home run. So easy to make. I have a brother-in-law that’s a a top tier chef so I’ll sneak this in whenever we’re together again.

    1. Thanks, Tyrone! It looks like you got the consistency perfect. Can’t wait to hear what he thinks!

  4. Good for thought this is fantastic for making macaroni and cheese !!! 😃 But don’t limit your imagination. Some fresh chives and a lil crushed garlic with a touch of smoked paprika will help cut through the richness of the Mac and cheese (be mindful you won’t need to add salt as the saltiness of the bacon and cheese will be enough). And if it seems too salty add a splash of fresh lemon juice! The acidity will tone down the saltiness and actually enhance the other flavours! Be creative and happy cooking 😎

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish