5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

$2.83 recipe / $0.47 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.11 from 221 votes
Jump to RecipeStep by StepPin Recipe

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that we make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

I know, it seems kind of weird that I’m posting this 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe the day after the super bowl. But, the reason I made this nacho cheese sauce has nothing to do with the super bowl and everything to do with the fact that I have just had a crappy week. :) After a series of unfortunate events and two recipe flops, I had an, “Ugh, I give up. Just give me some chips and nacho cheese.” moment.

Don’t judge. Nacho cheese dip is powerful stuff.

Chip dipping into thick and creamy 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

NO Processed Cheese, Please

Rather than going totally off the deep end and buying a gelatinous block of Velveeta, I decided to try to make the nacho cheese sauce myself, with real, simple ingredients. To my surprise (and probably to my detriment), Nacho Cheese Sauce made with real cheddar cheese is extremely fast and easy to make.

Spice it Up!

The recipe below is the very basic version of nacho cheese sauce, which you can customize or embellish in many different ways. Try substituting half of the cheddar with pepper jack, or stirring in a 4oz. can of diced green chiles. Experiment with the seasonings by adding a pinch of garlic powder, cumin, or even cayenne pepper. Stir in a few sliced green onions, or a can of Rotel tomatoes (drained). You can really have fun with this one.

Tips for Cheese Sauce Success

Here are a few tips to help make sure your nacho cheese sauce is a success:

  • Make sure to cook the flour in the butter for one minute. This helps cook out the “floury” flavor.
  • Use medium cheddar for smoother results. Sharp cheddar tends to “break” or become grainy easier than medium cheddar.
  • Remove the pot from the heat before stirring in the cheese. Overheating the sauce once the cheese has been added can cause the sauce to seize up and become thick and/or grainy. If needed, use only low heat to help the cheese fully melt.
  • Use block cheese and hand shred it when possible. Pre-shredded cheeses sometimes contain a lot of anti-caking powders, which can cause a powdery flavor in your cheese sauce.

Big bowl full of rich and creamy 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

Share this recipe

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

4.11 from 221 votes
This rich and tangy nacho cheese sauce only takes about 5 minutes to make and uses only real, simple ingredients.
Servings 6 (1/4 cup each)
Cook 5 mins
Total 5 mins


  • 2 Tbsp butter ($0.22)
  • 2 Tbsp flour ($0.02)
  • 1 cup whole milk ($0.30)
  • 6 oz. medium cheddar, shredded (about 1.5 cups) ($2.25)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder ($0.02)


  • Add the butter and flour to a small sauce pot. Heat and whisk the butter and flour together until they become bubbly and foamy. Continue to cook and whisk the bubbly mixture for about 60 seconds.
  • Whisk the milk into the flour and butter mixture. Turn the heat up slightly and allow the milk to come to a simmer while whisking. When it reaches a simmer, the mixture will thicken. Once it's thick enough to coat a spoon, turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, until melted into the sauce. If needed, place the pot over a low flame to help the cheese melt. Do not overheat the cheese sauce.
  • Once all the cheese is melted into the sauce, stir in the salt and chili powder. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. If the sauce becomes too thick, simply whisk in an additional splash of milk.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 183.1kcalCarbohydrates: 4.92gProtein: 8.13gFat: 14.65gSodium: 337.23mgFiber: 0.32g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Chip mid-dip into 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

How to Make Cheese Sauce – Step by Step Photos

Flour and Butter for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Start by placing 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp flour in a small saucepot.

Flour and Butter Roux for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Heat the flour and butter over medium flame and whisk together until they become bubbly and foamy. Continue whisking for about 60 seconds. This mixture is called a “roux” and is what will thicken your sauce. Letting the roux cook for about 60 seconds slightly toasts the flour and gets rid of that raw floury flavor, but you want it to stay “blonde”, so if it begins to brown, remove it from the heat.

Whisk in Milk for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Whisk in one cup of whole milk. Turn the heat up slightly and let it come to a simmer (whisking frequently). Because the small volume, it should come to a simmer very quickly (about a minute).

Thickened Milk for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

When it reaches a simmer, the milk will thicken. When it’s thick enough to coat a spoon like in the photo, turn off the heat.

Melt in Cheese for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Whisk in 6oz. (or about 1.5 cups) shredded medium cheddar, one hand full at a time, until it is melted into the sauce. If needed, put the pot back over a low flame to help it melt, but the residual heat should do most of the work.

Season Cheese Sauce for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Finally, season the sauce with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp chili powder.

Finished Nacho Cheese Sauce for 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce - BudgetBytes.com

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if needed. And that’s it! Now you have real ingredient, really delicious, homemade nacho cheese sauce. 

Chip dipping into a bowl of rich and creamy 5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

This post either just ruined your life or made your day. Or maybe both.

Try These Other Great Party Appetizers:

Share this recipe

Posted in: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Leave a Comment
  1. I used oat milk instead of milk and just kept adding it until I got the consistency I wanted. I also added 1 clove of garlic minced and 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped jalapeño it was perfect.

  2. I used real cheese and followed the directions carefully but the sauce ends up way too thick. I was able to get a smooth consistency by nearly doubling the milk, but the flavor was very bland, even with extra salt. The instructions yield something entirely different than your average cheese dip, and not in a good way.

    Ive had a lot of success with other recipes here, but this one was a dud.

  3. Followed this recipe to a T and it wasn’t great. I kept having to add more and more milk to make it runny and nacho cheese lime. I still used it for my recipe and put it in the fridge to reheat. It was like thick Velveeta after being refrigerated overnight. Totally not appetizing.

  4. I live for food. I love food. But a questioniano…questioning…. can these cheese sauce recipes substitute the real cheese with Powdered cheese¿ like the sauce in kraft dinner

    1. Hi, Pierce! Since we haven’t tested this recipe using that product, I don’t feel comfortable recommending it as a substitution because I’m not sure it would give you successful results. I will make note of the product & share it with the team to consider for use in other recipes in the future! — Marion :)

  5. Love!I added mild green chilies and its delicious!Couldnt find a organic pre made one so happy i found this recipe!So easy and NO lumps!I am eating it now with chips!Thanks!,

  6. I tried your recipe but i didnt have chili powder so i used cajun powder instead. It tastes good as well!

    1. It sounds like a heat management issue. If you try it again- keep it at low heat. XOXO -Monti

  7. Recipe was horrible it took me 30 minutes instead of 5 and had no flavor worse nacho cheese recipe

    1. Hi, Riley. Apologies that this didn’t turn out for you. It is one of our favorite sauces at Budget Bytes, and it never takes us more than five minutes. It should definitely not take you 30 minutes, and I’m unsure how you have no flavor considering you’re using real cheese. If you decide to try again, take a good look at the directions before you start cooking, make sure you have all of your ingredients measured out and ready to go, and keep things at a low heat. Better luck next time!