Pretzel bites, Nachos, Cauliflower cakes, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and roast beef sandwiches. They are all incomplete without a perfectly smooth and creamy cheese sauce! Have you ever wondered what they all have in common?
If you don’t believe it, you need to see it yourself. Try out this recipe for making the cheese sauce, and any food you ever try with it will just hit home.
You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to make something as delicious as the cheese sauce. It makes such a perfect accompaniment to all your favorite food that it would be a crime to serve them without this delectable cheese sauce.
So here is a simple recipe on how to make cheese sauce at home so that you never run out of this cheesy delight to dip your food in.
How to Make Cheese Sauce
This homemade cheese sauce recipe is so simple and easy that you’ll make and dip into this lovely sauce every day.
Just 10 minutes is all it takes to treat yourself to this delicious cheese sauce.
Even better is that the ingredients required for cheese sauce are readily available; you’ll quickly find them at home.
So, let’s cut the chase and look into the ingredients required for this recipe on how to make cheese sauce.
- 2 Tablespoons of Butter
- 2 Tablespoons of Flour
- 1 Cup of Milk
- 1 Cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
What makes the cheese sauce so creamy and thick is the roux, which is the base of this cheese sauce. Roux is essentially made with butter and flour. We’ll deal with more of that in a while.
There is no restriction on whether to use salted or unsalted butter. You can use either of them to make the cheese sauce for this recipe.
1.2. All-Purpose Flour
A good old all-purpose flour works well for a perfect cheese sauce, but if you wonder how to make the gluten-free cheese sauce, substitute the flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour.
It is recommended to use milk with a higher fat percentage for the best results. You can use any milk for this recipe, but a higher fat percentage in the milk will make your cheese sauce much smoother and creamier.
You can also use heavy cream or half and a half, giving excellent results. Use 2% milk only if you have to.
1.4. Cheddar Cheese
When it comes to cheese, it is recommended to use full-fat cheese. Although all the cheese can be used in the recipe, full-fat cheese gives a creamier and smoother cheese sauce.
It would be best if you also used shredded cheddar cheese that has been shredded by yourself, as store-bought pre-shredded cheese will make your sauce lumpy due to the added anti-caking additives to the cheese.
Another thing to remember is to use sharp cheddar cheese for the best cheese sauce. If you can’t get your hands on any, then mild cheddar cheese also works fine.
2. How To Make Cheese Sauce Roux
Before we jump into the steps to how to make cheese sauce, let us first learn the art of making the roux, which is, in fact, the first step of the recipe, and, quite frankly, the most important one.
So then, what is a roux? It is simply a combination of flour and a fat-like butter that is adequately cooked and thickened. It would be best to heat them to activate this thickening agent for your sauce.
So, the roux will essentially be the base of the sauce, and despite being intimidated by its definition, making roux is nothing but simple, let us get started with how to make cheese sauce.
It only takes a few minutes to prepare but be sure to constantly stir the contents as it is being cooked to remove any starchy flavor before adding in the rest of the ingredients.
You don’t want to skip this step as it will make your sauce creamy and give it a thick and luscious texture.
If you have never made a roux before, do not fret because there is a simple guideline that will help you get started.
- Place a large pot over medium to high heat to melt butter. Then add the butter and wait till it melts fully.
- After the butter is melted correctly, add the all-purpose flour. Now do this in parts while whisking continuously to prevent forming large lumps. Keep whisking until the butter and flour combine to form a paste.
- After about 3 to 5 minutes, you will have a light and slightly puffed roux. Simple as that!
3. How to Make Cheese Sauce:
- The first step in making cheese sauce is to start with a roux. So, melt the butter in a pot and add the flour while whisking until it forms a light golden paste. This will help remove the raw flour taste from the mixture.
- Now, slowly pour in the milk while continuously whisking out any lumps when they form. Whisking frequently will also make sure that the mixture doesn’t burn. So, keep stirring for about 4-6 minutes, and it will start to thicken and form into a nice creamy sauce.
- Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see the sauce thicken in the first minute or two. The process takes some time, but we promise you that it will thicken and is worth the wait.
- After the sauce thickens, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese in parts, a handful at a time.
- Remember to remove the pot from the heat before adding cheese, as cheese tends to separate or become grainy over high heat. The heated milk will be hot enough to melt the cheese.
- Add salt and pepper to season the sauce, and voila! You have a perfectly creamy cheese sauce that is just begging to be poured over any food and savored.
4. How to Make Cheese Sauce Thick
Using a ratio of 1:1 by volume of flour to butter will give a perfectly thickened cheese sauce. However, if you want to thicken it further, you can add more cheese to it.
There is another method you can use to thicken a cheese sauce. You can add a bit of cornstarch slurry. Just mix equal parts cornstarch and water and start adding to the hot cheese sauce little by little.
This method isn’t recommended because the cheese may start to separate if you re-heat it too much while you thicken the sauce.
5. How to Make Cheese Sauce Variations
If you love being adventurous with recipes, try out these variations for the sauce, and you may end up customizing and creating a golden recipe on how to make cheese sauce.
5.1. Olive Oil
The main essentials that make up the roux are fat and flour. The butter used as the fat in the recipe can be replaced by olive oil. It works like a charm and that is exactly how to make cheese sauce thick.
5.2. White Whole Wheat Flour
If you plan to make a healthier version of cheese sauce, you can swab the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to make the roux.
5.3. Try Another Cheese
Although cheddar cheese makes an excellent option for a perfect cheese sauce, using any other good melting cheese for this recipe will also turn out well.
You can select the cheese you want depending on what you will serve it with. Gruyère cheese is a good option if you want to make a cheese sauce to use as a dip for bread, as it is incredibly smooth and creamy.
Monterey jack is another cheese that can be used to pair the cheese sauce with nachos or enchiladas.
If you want cheese sauce for a good old homemade mac and cheese, then a combination of cheddar and parmesan is the way to go.
You can also try half cheddar and half American cheese for the sauce. They make the perfect duo! American cheese melts smoothly, and the sharp cheddar adds the flavor.
5.4. How to Make Cheese Sauce Spicy
Here is how to turn up the spice level. If you like a cheese sauce with a kick, use pepper jack cheese to give it that extra spice you want. You can also sprinkle some cayenne pepper to taste or add some hot sauce.
6. Foods to Serve with Cheese Sauce
Now that we know how to make cheese sauce let’s look at what we could pair it with. First things first, you can rarely go wrong with cheese, so don’t hesitate to try it with different types of food. The list of foods to serve with cheese sauce is way too long, but here are a few of them to begin with.
Although macaroni tastes best with cheese sauce, if you’ve run out of macaroni noodles, you can always use any other noodle, and it will taste just as delicious.
If you still haven’t tried nachos with cheese sauce, you’re missing out on life. Cheese sauce makes the best finishing touch for nachos loaded with toppings, so don’t miss out on this one.
6.3. Burgers and Sandwiches
Creamy cheese sauce on juicy burgers and savory sandwiches makes the best combo. So next time you grab a burger or a sandwich, give this cheese sauce a go.
6.4. Roasted Potatoes
You’ll never eat roasted potatoes the old way again. Drizzle this fantastic cheese sauce over your roasted potatoes and pamper your taste buds.
If you want to dip your food into something, it must be cheese sauce. It makes an excellent dip for almost all finger foods. So, get your tortilla chips and French fries and dip away!
You obviously cannot end the list without mentioning pretzels. The creamy cheese sauce can only match the soft pretzels with a chewy texture.
7. How to Smoothen Cheese Sauce
Don’t miss out on these essential tips if you want to make sure that your cheese sauce turns out smooth and creamy.
- Full-fat cheese gives the best results when it comes to the cheese sauce. It is also recommended to use freshly grated cheese as bagged pre-grated cheese tends to contain additives that may prevent the smooth melting of the cheese.
- Do not add cold shredded cheese directly into the hot mixture. Make sure you leave the shredded cheese at room temperature for a while before adding them to the mixture.
- Don’t forget to remove the pot from the heat before adding the cheese. Overheating cheese can make them turn lumpy.
8. How to Store Cheese Sauce
The cheese sauce is best served immediately after preparation, but if you plan to make it ahead and would like to store it, you can do so easily. It can be conveniently heated and used again when required.
Make sure to store it in a properly sealed container. You can store it in the refrigerator for about 2 days and heat it in a microwave when it is to be served.
The sauce will start to solidify as it is chilled. If you are heating it in a pan, keep it over low heat and whisk the sauce frequently.
You can also add a tablespoon or two of milk to thin out the sauce and get it to your desired consistency.
If you are using a microwave, do make sure to heat it in intervals of about 30 seconds, remove it, stir it, and repeat the process a few times. Do not overheat it, making the cheese form into lumps.
9. Final Note
The versatility of the cheese sauce makes it all the more delicious option to pair with almost all kinds of food. You can use it as a dip or pour it as a topping because who can say no to more cheese?
Do remember to try out the variations of the cheese sauce and have fun with this cheesy recipe on how to make the cheese sauce.
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