5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (2024)

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$2.83 recipe / $0.47 serving

by Beth - Budget Bytes

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4.13 from 244 votes

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I know, it seems kind of weird that I’m posting this homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe the dayafter 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.

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (2)

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 saucemyself, with real, simple ingredients. To my surprise (and probably to my detriment), this homemade nacho cheese recipe made with real cheddar cheese isextremely fast and easy to make.

Spice it Up!

The nacho cheese recipe below is the very basic version of nacho cheese, 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 homemade nacho cheese recipe 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.

New to cheese sauce? Try making our no-roux Easy Cheese Sauce that melts together smoothly in minutes and is absolutely fool-proof!

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (3)

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

4.13 from 244 votes

This rich and tangy homemade nacho cheese only takes about 5 minutes to make and uses only real, simple ingredients.

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (5) Servings 6 (1/4 cup each)

Cook 5 minutes mins

Total 5 minutes mins

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Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 183.1kcalCarbohydrates: 4.92gProtein: 8.13gFat: 14.65gSodium: 337.23mgFiber: 0.32g

Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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Video

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How to Make Nacho Cheese – Step by Step Photos

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (8)

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

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (9)

Heat the flour and butter over medium flame and whisk together until they become bubbly and foamy. Continue whisking for about 60 seconds. Thismixture 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.

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (10)

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).

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (11)

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.

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (12)

Whisk in 6oz. (or about 1.5 cups) shredded mediumcheddar, 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.

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

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (14)

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

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (15)

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

Try These Other Great Party Appetizers:

  • Black Bean Taquitos
  • Double Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • Crispy Baked Honey Sriracha Chicken Drumsticks
  • Raspberry Balsamic Baked Chicken Wings
  • Pizza Rolls
5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe {Video!} - Budget Bytes (2024)

FAQs

What is the best melting cheese for nachos? ›

Sharp cheddar gets my vote for nacho cheese. It melts smoothly without being stringy, while having a nice flavorful punch. You can use mild or medium cheddar if you prefer, but the flavor will be a bit blander. Monterey jack and pepper jack also melt really well into sauces and make a great white nacho cheese sauce.

What keeps nacho cheese liquid? ›

Salts such as sodium citrate and sodium hexametaphosphate are known in the cheese industry as melting salts. Their primary purpose is to swap sodium ions for calcium ions bound to the casein proteins in cheese. In doing so, they loosen these proteins and make them water-soluble. We used two different recipes.

What is nacho cheese sauce made of? ›

Butter and flour: This nacho cheese starts with a roux made of equal parts butter and all-purpose flour. Milk: You'll need a cup of whole milk. Cheese: For this classic nacho cheese recipe, opt for sliced processed American cheese. Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the savory flavor of the nacho cheese.

How do you thicken nacho cheese sauce? ›

Flour or cornstarch can both thicken a liquid. In a small separate bowl, mix a tablespoon of either flour or cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cheese sauce until the mixture is smooth. Add the mixture back to the milky cheese sauce, and stir until combined and desired thickness is achieved.

What cheese is the hardest to melt? ›

But as the weather gets hotter, maybe we should take a look at some cheeses that don't melt. There's a family of semi-firm cheeses — among them, queso panela, queso fresco, paneer, halloumi, feta, cotija, ricotta and soft goat cheese — that won't melt over direct or indirect heat in your kitchen.

How do you keep cheese sauce creamy? ›

Starch (such as all-purpose flour, cornstarch, or potato flour) will keep the cheese from curdling. If using all-purpose flour, add it to the mixture before the cheese; it needs to be cooked for a few minutes to remove the starchy taste.

How to make cheese sauce that doesn t harden? ›

For Smooth, Stable Cheese Sauces, Cornstarch and Evaporated Milk Are Your Friends. How to make a stable emulsion of melted cheese using two basic pantry staples.

How do you keep cheese from clumping in cheese sauce? ›

It's most likely because the sauce is too hot at the point at which you're adding cheese. Make sure the heat is relatively low, and add the cheese a little at a time while stirring gently. Too much acid content in a sauce (lemon, etc.) can also cause problems for dairy.

What cheese is Taco Bell nacho cheese? ›

Heavy cream has a lot of fat content which helps thicken the nacho cheese sauce so no flour or roux is needed. Up next is the cheese. We are keeping it simple and only using sharp cheddar. It has the bright yellow/orange color that is key to making this look just like Taco Bell's.

What is the difference between nacho cheese and cheddar cheese sauce? ›

While nacho cheese and regular cheese sauce share some similarities, nacho cheese is specifically formulated to have a bolder flavor and a smoother texture. It often includes additional ingredients such as spices and peppers to give it a distinct taste.

Does nacho cheese go bad? ›

Store-bought nacho cheese sauce will last up to four weeks in the refrigerator, while homemade cheese sauce will last only about four days. Store it in an airtight container to keep out moisture and contaminants.

Why add flour to cheese sauce? ›

The mornay sauce (bechamel plus cheese) made with a flour and butter roux, keeps the cheese from breaking when it is heated.

How to make cheese sauce thicker without flour or cornstarch? ›

1. Use Arrowroot Powder: Arrowroot is a natural thickening agent that doesn't have a strong taste. Mix a small amount of arrowroot powder with a bit of cold water to create a slurry, then gradually whisk it into the cheese sauce.

What cheese melts smoothly? ›

For superior meltability, look for a full-fat, high moisture mozzarella, like small balls packed in water. You can substitute other types of mozzarella for the ball form (like stracciatella or burrata), or look to other mild-flavored melting cheeses like provolone or Gouda.

What cheeses are best for melting sauce? ›

Cheeses with more moisture and lower melting points make for mouthwatering, creamy cheese sauces. Cheddar is one of the most popular choices, but Swiss and Gruyère are also terrific options.

What is the best melting cheese for tacos? ›

QUESO OAXACA

It's a type of white string cheese that is quite soft. It melts very easily, making it a popular choice for fillings – it's another queso variety that you'll often see in my recipes!

What kind of cheese melts on tacos? ›

You can use any shredded, melty cheese, such as cheddar, Monterrey jack, Pepper jack, or mozzarella. I like using a Mexican blend because you get a mix of everything. I opt for pre-shredded cheese because it's one less step, but if you prefer to grate the cheese yourself, that works.

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