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 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.–Renee Schettler

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.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

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

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 15 mins
Condiment
American
8 servings
95 kcal
4.89 / 27 votes
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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%)


Originally published June 17, 2010

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Comments

  1. Quick tip, if adding milk to hot roux Add cold milk and vise versa, you can make roux ahead of time if so then use heated milk for a cold roux 😉

  2. I made this sauce for New Year’s Eve and ended up with a grainy texture. The taste was good otherwise, and I’m wondering what I did that could have caused this. I didn’t use an orange cheddar, I used Cabot “Seriously Sharp” which is white. I didn’t heat the milk before adding it to the roux because I’ve made a cheese sauce base for a macaroni and cheese recipe many times and it doesn’t call for heating the milk, but maybe this is what caused the grainy texture? I’d like to make it again but I don’t want to end up with a weird texture.

          1. I wouldn’t recommend it, Scarlett. Mozzarella tends to be too stringy and stretchy to work well in a cheese sauce like this.

    1. Hi Yaronit, several things could have happened here. One, the cheese sauce was overheated or the cheese had some added emulsifiers or coagulants. Next time, be sure that the milk is only heated to the point that it will melt the cheese, add the cheese in batches and you might want to consider using a double boiler. Hope this helps.

      Beth

  3. 5 stars
    Just made this as a side dish for my pot roast tonight. The sauce was perfect and turned out amazingly smooth, not one little lump!! This will be my go-to recipe from here on out. Very fast and easy to put together. Tasted even better than it looked!!! Everyone at the table loved it!!! Thanx for the recipe!!

  4. 4 stars
    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.

  5. 5 stars
    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!

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