Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Cheddar cheese sauce is an indispensable and versatile go-to item in your repertoire, whether destined for fries, nachos, broccoli, burgers, chili, baked potatoes, macaroni...get the picture?

Cheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe

This Cheddar cheese sauce creates a spectacularly 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 just plain old Uncle D’s Chili. Or a baked potato. Or a roasted sweet potato. Or fries. Or broccoli. Or macaroni. Or nachos. 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. This recipe has been updated. Originally published June 17, 2010.Spike Mendelsohn

Cheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes just shy of 2 cups


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons 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


  • 1. 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.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in another saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the bubbling butter, stirring constantly until a thick paste forms, 1 to 2 minutes. (In classic French cuisine, a mixture of flour and fat such as this is known as a roux. It may become quite thick but this is okay. If it doesn’t become quite thick, this is okay, too, since this mixture tends to behave a little differently in every kitchen.)
  • 3. Whisking constantly, 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, whisking constantly until it has melted. 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.
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  1. So I tried this and ended up with a SUPER thick, tasteless glop. I was imagining something a little more like the picture. Is a cup of flour too much for the roux? Any ideas on how to make it a little more velveeta and a little less play dough?

    1. Nick, thanks for letting us know your experience. We’d tested it to great effect—it came out thick yet with ample flavor. We’ve retested and tweaked the recipe, reducing the flour but not the cheese flavor. Our apologies for your disappointment the first time through. We assure you, this version that now appears on the site will be much more to your liking…

    2. A cup of flour would be for 8 cups of milk using a 2-2-1 ratio. For 1 cup of milk, the most I would use is a roux of 2 T butter and flour. Flavor is going to largely rely on your cheese -this is not a place to use a mild cheese. You might also try adjusting your seasoning and adding a shot of hot sauce or a pinch of nutmeg.

      1. You are so right, Jennalynnd. We tweaked the original recipe to conform to the standard proportions for a roux.

      1. Yep, it does, Linde. And we tested it that way and it wasn’t pleasant. We found that with these tweaks, it made for a better consistency and taste.

      1. Jon, we amended the recipe from what the original version in the cookbook was. I believe Nick tried the original recipe.

  2. 1 cup sounds like way too much. More like a couple of tablespoons. Is this a misprint? I don’t have the book but it is on my wish list.

    1. RisaG, it’s not a misprint, as that’s what’s in the book. We’re going to test it one more time and report back.

    2. We’ve retested and tweaked the recipe, RisaG. Give it a whirl now…with confidence.

  3. I just made this recipe from Spike’s book, as is. Wish I had looked your version up first. That roux was much too thick! Thanks for helping your readers out. I’ll certainly try your roux measurements. But, do you think there’s a way to fix it? I don’t want to have to do it all over again!

    1. Melissa, you can try to use the existing sauce as a base, adding some milk, cheese, and butter to it to avoid making it all over again. But I suggest starting fresh. With only 2 tablespoons of flour, it is much simpler than the version in the book.

    1. Excellent to hear, Rebekah. Excellent. Let us know what else, if anything, you decide to smother in it. Though remember, please, we have kids reading the site…

  4. Made this tonight to go over broccoli. My husband and his dad loved it. Thanks for the tweaked recipe. It is perfect.

  5. This looks great can’t wait to try it! I hate using Velveeta because of the VERY HIGH sodium content! This looks great I am even going to add some Dijon Mustard. The recipe I have used in the past (using Velveeta) called for the mustard. It gives it a great tangy flavor without overpowering the cheese flavor and it makes you want to dip everything in it! I think the real cheese is going to make a great change. Thanks for recipe! :-)

  6. Looks like it’s going to be a great cheese sauce!! Can’t wait to try this!.. Just have a few questions.. Can you refrigerate this sauce and use it whenever you need it to? Do you need to add anything or just heat it up every time you are going to use it? How much time will it last?

    Thank you for your help!

  7. Delicious! I made it with some super strong cheddar and it was just perfect — not too thick and not too watery. I reheated some later in the microwave but it didn’t taste as good. I guess I will just have to eat it all in one go next time!

    1. Clare, the microwave is pretty bad when it comes to foods like this. Next time, add the sauce to a double boiler and heat it slowly. I think you’ll find a big difference.

  8. Seriously? This recipe is copy protected? It’s no different than any number of cheese sauces. How absurd.

    1. John, we’re required by the publishers to post the copyright for each. Certainly, the ingredients list is the same as other sauce recipes, but the expression, or how it is written, is the creation of the Spike, the author. And that is copyrightable. Either way, a copyrighted recipe doesn’t preclude it from be delicious!

  9. I’ve made cheese sauces before but this one is foolproof! I didn’t have to baby the roux much at all!

    1. Terrific to hear, Melissa! We tested this recipe over and over, tweaking it slightly each time, to get rid of a few glitches we experienced with the original recipe. We’re so pleased to hear that you had such an incredible experience because that’s exactly why we do what we do. Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know! And looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  10. Made this for jalapeno poppers. Added an extra half cup of cheese. It’s really good and the recipe made enough for 11 jalapenos (well, 22 halfs). I could have made more jalapenos but I wanted them really stuffed! Saving this recipe. Thank you!!

    1. You’re welcome, Margie! So glad to hear you like this Cheddar cheese sauce so much! We made it over and over and over again in our home kitchens, tweaking and perfecting it before sharing it with readers, and it looks like it paid off!

  11. I made this today, but used rosemary, oregano, and black pepper to season it. I find I generally need less flour than recipes call for when making a roux; I add the flour gradually so that I don’t end up putting in more than I need.

    Anyway, it was excellent. The consistency was exactly what I wanted from it, the flavor was very nice, and I have leftovers. Couldn’t be happier.

    1. Lovely, Sean! Greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well it worked out!

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