How to Make Cheese Sauce

5 from 7 votes

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Learn how to make cheese sauce from scratch with just a few simple ingredients. Make this recipe to use by itself or in a variety of other recipes.

cheese sauce dripping off of spoon into bowl

Cheese goes with just about anything, and this easy homemade cheese sauce is the perfect way to take your dish to the next level.

All you need to make this recipe are freshly shredded cheese and a handful of pantry staples.

How to make cheese sauce

This recipe starts with a bechamel – one of the “mother sauces” – and then shredded cheese is slowly melted in for a perfectly creamy sauce.

whisk in pan of homemade cheese sauce


  • Butter – unsalted; you can also use oil or fat drippings
  • Flour – use regular all-purpose
  • Milk – whole milk is best; a lower fat content will result in a thinner sauce
  • Sharp cheddar – use freshly grated; shredded cheese from a bag won’t melt correctly
  • Tabasco – can omit if you don’t like spicy foods
  • Seasoning – dry mustard, salt, white pepper


  1. Warm the milk – Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave just until small bubbles form around the edges. Warmed milk creates less of a reaction when added to the other ingredients and helps the sauce thicken faster.
  2. Make a roux – A roux is simply a mix of equal parts fat and flour, and it’s what thickens the sauce. To do this, heat the butter on low in a saucepan until just melted, then sprinkle in the flour. Whisk until combined and smooth.

Cook for another minute or two to get the raw flavor out of the flour. You’ll see small bubbles start to form in the mixture, but you don’t want the overall color to darken.

  1. Finish the sauce – Stir in the Tabasco and spices. Add the cheese a handful at a time, whisking continuously, until it has completely melted.
bowl of cheese sauce sitting on counter

Recipe Notes

  • How to thicken a thin sauce: If the sauce is too thick before adding the cheese, stir in a little more warmed milk to thin it out.
  • Cook over low heat the entire time. If it gets too hot, the sauce will curdle and separate. To fix this, remove the pan from heat and use an immersion blender to make it smooth again.
  • Substitutions: Replace the cheddar with any cheese that you prefer. You may need to adjust the amount of cheese based on the flavor and intensity.

No matter what type of cheese you use, buy a block and shred the cheese yourself. This is because pre-shredded cheese has preservatives and or potato starch added to prevent the cheese from sticking together. As a result, it has a waxy coating that will result in a lumpy sauce.

cheddar cheese dip dripping from spoon into a bowl

Uses for cheese sauce

I like to make a few adjustments to this recipe and use it in my Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese or Beef Queso Dip. You can also use it for:

  • Nachos
  • Soft pretzels and hot dogs
  • Chicken casseroles
  • Drizzled over vegetables
  • Omelettes
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cheese sauce dripping off of spoon into bowl

How to Make Cheese Sauce

5 from 7 votes
Learn how to make cheese sauce from scratch with just a few simple ingredients. Make this recipe to use by itself or in a variety of other recipes.
Servings: 8
Prep: 4 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 14 minutes



  • Warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave in measuring cup for 1 minute on high.
  • In a medium sauce pan melt equal parts butter and then add the flour.
  • Whisk the flour and butter together and allow to simmer on low to cook the flour 1-2 minutes. The lightest (white color) roux will be slightly puffed.
  • Gradually add the warm milk and whisk to incorporate until a smooth sauce forms on low heat. Cook several minutes, sauce will thicken.
  • Add a little more milk if too thick and stir in the dry mustard, cheese and Tabasco (several dashes or more to your liking). Whisking until smooth sauce forms.
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to four days.



  1. You can substitute any cheese you prefer to suit your needs.
  2. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to four days.


Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 214mg | Potassium: 135mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 468IU | Calcium: 207mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: French
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
creamy cheese sauce dripping from spoon inot bowl


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    Actually, shredded cheese in a bag works perfectly every time. I’ve never had a lumpy sauce in making a cheese sauce that way.

  2. 5 stars
    You make it look so easy. I am going to make this on Sunday for some nachos for the hubby and I. Thank you!

    1. You bet! Thanks Beth. Hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. Add some chopped jalapeños to it if you like a little kick, too. 🙂

    1. I’d have to play around with it so I can’t comment at this time. I would start with less milk and test with how much beer and go from there. I’ll put it on the recipe list to develop!