This homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe is absolutely delicious, full of flavour and easy to make with a few simple real food ingredients. Just pass the tortilla chips please!
Savoury snacks and cheese are some of my most craved foods so it should come as no surprise that I love tortilla chips dipped in nacho cheese sauce. I am a little ashamed to admit that in my younger years, a certain jar of orange sauce found in the chip aisle seemed to make its way into my basket far too often. These days though, I try to limit my consumption of highly processed items. And let’s face it, the fact that a cheese sauce is sitting on a shelf says it all (most definitely highly processed with a less than desirable ingredient list).
So does this mean that I have stopped consuming nacho cheese altogether? Oh hell no! I just make it myself these days from scratch using a few simple real food ingredients. It is super easy to make and oh so flavourful!
Make it for game day, parties, movie night, board game night or any time craving strikes! This is such a versatile sauce that can be used in a variety of ways but my favourite is simply to dip in tortilla chips.
What is nacho cheese sauce made of?
To make this homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe, you will need:
- Butter + Flour: To make a roux as a base for the sauce.
- Whole Milk: I use whole milk since I find it gives the perfect amount of richness but you could also mix in a bit of cream if you want it to be super decadent.
- Cheddar: I like to use a medium cheddar to achieve a smooth consistency (sometimes the aged ones don’t melt in as well).
- Spices: A combination of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt and cayenne transform this classic cheese sauce into nacho cheese.
How do you make nacho cheese from scratch?
You simply make a classic cheese sauce and then add in a variety of flavourful spices to make this homemade nacho cheese.
- Make A Roux: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute to create a roux.
- Whisk In The Milk: Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until slightly thickened (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).
- Add The Spices: Whisk in the spices and turn off the heat.
- Stir In The Cheese: Whisk in the shredded cheese, one handful at a time until melted into the sauce.
- Enjoy!: Season to taste with salt + cayenne and enjoy!
Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.
Some Helpful Tips
Tips For A Smooth Consistency
The goal here is a delicious, crave worthy sauce with a smooth consistency. Here are a few tips to achieve the perfect consistency:
- Grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is usually coated with an additive to prevent clumping. This can make the sauce gritty instead of smooth.
- Use “medium” cheddar. I like to use a medium cheddar since I find it melts in better than an “old” or “aged” cheddar which can sometimes become grainy when cooked into a sauce.
- Turn off the heat before adding the cheese! A gritty, grainy or split texture can be the result of overheated cheese. So take the sauce off the heat before stirring in the cheese. If needed, use low heat to get the cheese to melt in.
Storage + Reheating Tips
This sauce is best eaten immediately as it will firm up as it cools. You can keep it warm longer by placing in a slow cooker, fondue pot or other warming dish (on a very low “keep warm” heat). However, if you happen to have some leftovers, here are a few tips:
- How long does it keep? It will keep in the fridge for about 5-7 days.
- How to reheat? Heat in a small pot over low heat with a touch of added milk. Whisk or stir together until warm, smooth and creamy again.
Looking to customize this nacho cheese recipe? Here are a few ideas…
- Make it spicy! Adjust the heat level by adding in more cayenne, your favourite hot sauce or some diced jalapenos.
- Substitute spices. You can adjust the spices to suit your own tastes or what you have on hand. One idea is to substitute the spices with 2 tsp chili powder seasoning blend. Another option is to use taco seasoning or this homemade fajita seasoning.
- Jazz it up! Add some toppings like diced fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, green onions, pico de gallo, bacon bits, etc.
Ways To Use Nacho Cheese Sauce
My favourite way to enjoy this delicious nacho cheese sauce is simply by dipping tortilla chips into it. However, it is a super versatile sauce that can be used in any “cheesy way” you can think of. Here are a few ideas:
- Get To Dipping! Use it as a dip with tortilla chips, veggies, soft pretzels or fries.
- Drizzle It! Drizzle it over cooked broccoli, pasta, baked potatoes, chicken, chili, burgers, omelettes, etc.
- Kick Up Your Tex Mex! Use it in your favourite Tex Mex dishes like nachos, quesadillas, tacos, burritos or enchiladas. Try these Cheesy Shredded Chicken Enchiladas which feature this sauce.
Love these flavours but need a dairy-free, nut-free alternative? Then check out my Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe.
Did you make this Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe? What did you serve it with? Let me know in the comments below!Print
This homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe is absolutely delicious, full of flavour and easy to make with a few simple real food ingredients. Perfect for game day, parties, movie night or any time craving strikes!
- Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.
- Whisk in the flour for 1 minute to create a roux.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until slightly thickened. Once thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, whisk in the spices and turn off the heat.
- Whisk in the shredded cheese, one handful at a time until melted into the sauce. Note: If the sauce becomes too thick, just whisk in a bit more milk.
- Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.
- Best served immediately as it will firm up as it cools. You can keep it warm longer by placing in a slow cooker, fondue pot or other warming dish on a very low heat.
- Keeps for 5-7 days in the fridge and can be reheated in a small pot over low heat with a touch of added milk whisked in. I recommend eating when freshly made though.
- Grate your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheese is usually coated with an additive to prevent clumping. This can make the sauce gritty instead of smooth. I prefer using a “medium” cheddar since I find that it melts in better than an aged cheddar which can sometimes become grainy when cooked into a sauce.
- Turn off the heat before adding cheese! A gritty, grainy or split texture can be the result of overheated cheese. So take the sauce off the heat before stirring in the cheese. If the cheese won’t melt in, place over low heat to incorporate.
- Ways to use it: Check out the post for a list of ideas. This sauce is super versatile and can be used in many ways besides a delicious dip for tortilla chips.
Keywords: nacho cheese sauce, nacho cheese recipe
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