This Homemade Cheese Sauce is a 6-ingredient, 15 minute recipe for the richest, creamiest cheese sauce. Serve it on veggies, with nachos, over pasta, you name it!
Table of Contents
This Cheese Sauce is one of those basic and simple yet incredibly delicious recipes that’s just good to know. Why? Because it is so darn versatile!
Whether you’re wanting an extra cheesy pasta, a big plate of cheesy nachos, a way to dress up your Roasted Veggies or Air Fryer Broccoli, or maybe even just a big bowl of plain cheese sauce to slurp down like soup (just me?), this 15 minute, 6-ingredient recipe has you covered!
Keep this sauce as-is or customize it with different spices and add-ins!
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter so I can add salt to taste.
- All-Purpose Flour: whisked into the butter to make a roux which helps thicken the sauce.
- Milk: any kind of milk will work. The richer the milk, the richer the sauce.
- Shredded Cheese: I keep it classic with shredded cheddar, but other types of melty cheese will work too. Whatever you do, shred your own!
- Salt and Pepper: or other seasonings to taste.
How to Make Cheese Sauce
This homemade Cheese Sauce comes together in a total of 15 minutes!
- Make the roux: Melt butter over medium heat, then whisk in flour until smooth.
- Add milk and cheese: Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened. Stir in the cheese, whisking constantly until melted.
- Season and serve: Season as desired, then serve warm.
Homemade Cheese Sauce FAQs
Homemade cheese sauce consists of cheese, milk, a roux made up of butter and flour, and the seasonings of your choice. It’s incredibly simple and so delicious!
I love to keep it classic with sharp cheddar, but any melty cheese works great. Try Asiago, white cheddar, fontina, gouda, gruyere, havarti, Monterey jack, mozzarella, you name it. You can even use a combination. Whatever you do, shred the cheese yourself! Pre-shredded cheese includes anti-caking agents which prevent it from melting smoothly.
Leftover sauce will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, warm in the microwave or on low on the stove until heated through. You may want to add a splash of milk or water to thin the sauce when reheating.
Tips and Notes
- Shred your own cheese! Freshly shredded cheese is the key to a smooth and creamy texture. Pre-shredded cheeses contain an anti-caking agent that can result in a gritty texture.
- Heat on low. It can be tempting to crank the heat up in the hopes that the cheese melts faster. I get it. But cooking on medium/low allows the cheese to melt without clumping. It’s worth the extra time. Trust me!
- Lighten it up. If you want to make a lightened up version, swap the cream out for half chicken broth and half milk or cream. It won’t be quite as rich, but will still be delicious.
- Play with flavor. This recipe is basic for a reason. So you can play around with it! Add 1/2-1 teaspoon of taco seasoning or chili powder to make nacho cheese sauce, spice it up with cayenne pepper, chili peppers, or diced green chiles, kick the heat up with a drizzle of hot sauce…you really can’t go wrong!
This incredible sauce is also incredibly versatile! Here are a few ways you can serve it:
- On veggies. This makes the perfect cheese sauce for broccoli, cauliflower, Roasted Potatoes, Brussels sprouts, etc.
- Over nachos. Drizzle it over plain tortilla chips or use it as a nacho cheese sauce for Loaded Nachos.
- As a pasta sauce. This also works great for mac and cheese. Just add cooked pasta!
- As a dip. Serve it next to Air Fryer French Fries, Air Fryer Tater Tots, Homemade Soft Pretzels, chips or crackers, you name it!
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Homemade Cheese Sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (30 grams)
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (32 grams)
- 1 ¾ cups milk (any kind*)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or another kind)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Whisk in flour until smooth, then gradually whisk in the milk.
- Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in cheese until melted. Add additional milk for a thinner sauce if desired.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- *You can use any kind of milk or even light cream in this recipe! The richer the milk, the richer the sauce. If you want to go lighter, skim milk works. If you want rich flavor, opt for whole milk and a splash of cream. You can lighten this recipe even further by using half chicken broth and half milk.
- Shred your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheeses contain an anti-caking agent that can result in a gritty texture.
- Heat on low. Cooking on medium/low allows the cheese to melt without clumping. It’s worth the extra time.
- Play with flavor. This recipe is basic for a reason. Play around with it! Add 1/2-1 teaspoon of taco seasoning or chili powder to make nacho cheese sauce, spice it up with cayenne pepper, chili peppers, or diced green chiles, kick the heat up with a drizzle of hot sauce…you really can’t go wrong!
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