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 sauce is powerful stuff.
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 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. Over heating 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.
5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 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 over heat 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.
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Cheese Sauce – Step by Step Photos
Start by placing 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp flour in a small sauce pot.
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 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).
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.
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.
Finally, season the sauce with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp chili powder.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if needed.
And that’s it! Now you have real ingredient, really delicious, homemade nacho cheese sauce.
This post either just ruined your life or made your day. Or maybe both.