Nacho Cheese Sauce | Valerie’s Kitchen

Skip the jarred variety and make your own smooth and creamy Nacho Cheese Sauce at home in minutes! Serve it with tortilla chips for a snack that will remind of you of concession stand nachos.

Looking for more easy dip recipes? Try my Easy Queso Verde and Creamy Tomatillo Avocado Salsa.

Nacho cheese sauce in a small white dish topped with hot sauce and cilantro and surrounded by tortilla chips.

If you’ve never demolished a pile of tortilla chips smothered in warm, melted nacho cheese sauce at the ballpark or dipped a tortilla chip (or 10) into this velvetty goodness late at night, you’re just plain missing out.

For my fellow nacho cheese lovers out there, I have some good news. It is SO easy to make at home. And, once you try it, you’re not going to want to buy a jar of store-bought nacho cheese sauce again.

This easy homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce takes about 10 minutes to make, from start to finish, and it reheats perfectly. This means it’s a great make-ahead snack for parties. Or, be like me and keep it in the fridge for snacking any old time the craving strikes.

A small white dish filled with nacho cheese sauce topped with hot sauce and cilantro and surrounded by tortilla chips.

Nacho Cheese Sauce vs. Queso

While nacho cheese sauce and queso are both creamy, cheese-based dips, there are some important differences between them.

Nacho Cheese Sauce: Recipes for nacho cheese sauce (including this one) usually contain some type of milk and at least a little processed cheese, giving it a distinctive creamy and tangy flavor. It’s associated with American or Tex-Mex cuisine, and served at sporting events, movie theaters, and fast food chains (hello Taco Bell).

Tex-Mex Style Queso: If you’ve been to enough game day parties, you’ve probably encountered this dip made with melted processed cheese and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Meaty versions will have a little ground beef or sausage added. While Tex-Mex in origin, this queso is a Super Bowl mainstay all across the U.S.

Tradional Mexican Queso: These recipes contain natural cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, or asadero cheese, combined with various spices, aromatics, and sometimes tomatoes or peppers. Traditional queso is deeply rooted in Mexican cuisine and is commonly served as a dip with tortilla chips or as a topping for dishes like nachos, tacos, or enchiladas.

Ingredient Notes

Shredded cheddar cheese, cubed Velveeta cheese, and other ingredients with text.
  • Evaporated milk: For nacho cheese sauce that will reheat to a perfect creamy consistency, I recommend using evaporated milk. If you substitute regular milk, you may notice a slightly grainy consistency when the sauce is reheated.
  • Cornstarch: Works as a thickening agent for the sauce. Using cornstarch instead of flour makes this a naturally gluten-free snack!
  • Seasoning: A little onion powder and salt.
  • Cheese: After trying different combinations I’ve settled upon using mostly shredded sharp cheddar cheese with a small amount of cubed Velveeta. Just a small amount of processed American cheese is enough to add that classic flavor and it melts exceptionally well. See my tips below for substitutions if you want to skip the Velveeta.
  • Hot sauce: I highly recommend adding some hot sauce for flavor and a little kick. You can easily control the spice level by adding a little at a time and tasting as you go. We love the flavor of Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce– hands down a family favorite.

How to Make Nacho Cheese Sauce

Three images of evaporated milk, cornstarch, and cheese being combined in a saucepan.
  1. Whisk the cornstarch and onion powder into the evaporated milk in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add the cubed processed cheese and increase the heat to medium.
  3. Add the shredded cheese and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is hot but not boiling. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth and thickened.

Tips for the Best Nacho Cheese Sauce

Use freshly shredded cheese. Packaged pre-shredded cheeses contain additives they make them not melt as well. For a slightly different flavor, try substituting the cheddar or Velveeta (or both!) with another type of cheese. A combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack or pepper Jack is delicious.

Measure shredded cheese properly. Place it in a dry measure and press it down to compact it. Add as much as needed so it is level with the top of the cup.

Season carefully. Taste and add additional salt, only if needed. Since nacho cheese sauce is typically served with salty tortilla chips, I find the amount called for in the recipe is plenty. Be sure to taste it before seasoning it any further.

Kick it up. For more flavor and a mild kick, add hot sauce and stir it into the warm cheese sauce, off the heat. I add about 1 tablespoon or more and itt doesn’t add much heat, just a kick and some great flavor. Add even more and a drizzle to the top for spicy nacho cheese sauce.

Serving Suggestions

  • Classic Ballpark Nachos: Pour a generous amount of the warm sauce over a pile of tortilla chips and top it with jalapeno rings for nachos just like you get at a concession stand.
  • Nacho Cheese Dip: After the sauce is taken off the heat, the sauce will thicken to a perfect dipping consistency as it rests. Serve it with tortilla chips, Fritos scoops, and assorted veggies like cauliflower florets and carrots, for dipping. If after resting a skin forms on the surface of the dip, just give it a stir.
  • Soft Pretzel Dip: Serve the cheese sauce alongside soft pretzels for a savory and satisfying snack.
  • Condiment: Drizzle it over Easy Ground Beef Tacos or place a small bowl of the sauce on a platter with Baked Chicken Taquitos for dipping.
A tortilla chip dipping into a small dish of nacho cheese sauce.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Nacho Cheese Sauce reheats beautifully in the microwave to a perfect consistency. Heat it in 10 to 20 second increments, stirring in between, until it’s warm and creamy.

Sign up for my free newsletter for all the latest recipes and join me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more cooking inspiration!

A small white dish filled with nacho cheese sauce topped with hot sauce and cilantro and surrounded by tortilla chips.

Nacho Cheese Sauce

Skip the jarred variety and make your own smooth and creamy Nacho Cheese Sauce at home in minutes! Serve it with tortilla chips for a snack that will remind of you of concession stand nachos.

Course: Appetizer, Condiment, Sauces

Cuisine: American, Tex Mex

Author: Valerie Brunmeier

Keyword: nacho cheese sauce

Prep Time:5 minutes

Cook Time:5 minutes

Total Time:10 minutes

Instructions

  • Add the evaporated milk to a large saucepan and place over LOW heat. Whisk in the cornstarch until completely dissolved. Add the onion powder and salt and whisk to combine. Add the cheese and increase the heat to MEDIUM. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is hot but not boiling, then reduce the heat to LOW and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat.

  • For more flavor and a mild kick, add hot sauce and stir it into the warm cheese sauce, off the heat. I add about 1 tablespoon or more. It doesn’t add much heat, just a kick and some great flavor. Taste and add additional salt, only if needed. Since it’s typically served with salty tortilla chips, I find this is enough salt.

  • Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. This stuff reheats great! Can be made well in advance and reheated, as needed for nachos or dip.

  • For nachos: Pour over nachos while hot and the consistency is sauce-like.

  • For a dip: As the sauce begins to cool, it will thicken more and work well for a dip. Just whisk it occasionally if a skin forms on the surface.

  • To reheat: Place in the microwave, covered with a paper towel, and cook in 20 second increments, stirring in between, just until warmed through. Or, reheat it in a small saucepan over LOW heat on the stove. The sauce will loosen up when you reheat it.

Notes

This recipe yields approximately 2 cups.
*If you’d prefer not to use processed cheese, you can omit it and substitute Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, or additional cheddar. Just be sure to use a total of 8 ounces of cheese. If using all shredded cheese, it should measure 2 cups (packed).
To measure shredded cheese properly, place it in a dry measure and press it down to compact it. Add as much as needed so it is level with the top of the cup.

Nutrition

Serving: 2 ounces · Calories: 164 kcal · Carbohydrates: 7 g · Protein: 9 g · Fat: 11 g · Saturated Fat: 7 g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g · Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g · Cholesterol: 37 mg · Sodium: 383 mg · Potassium: 172 mg · Fiber: 0.03 g · Sugar: 5 g · Vitamin A: 385 IU · Vitamin C: 1 mg · Calcium: 303 mg · Iron: 0.1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.

Did You Make This?We love seeing what you’ve made! Tag us on social media at @fromvalerieskitchen for a chance to be featured



Source link