Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe

The Spruce
Ratings (74)
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 8 Servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
364 Calories
32g Fat
10g Carbs
9g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy cheddar cheese sauce recipe is prepared with a simple white sauce base and shredded cheese. Try this recipe with smoked cheddar cheese, or use a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.

Use this classic cheddar cheese sauce on cauliflower, green beans, broccoli or other vegetables, pasta (macaroni and cheese), rice, or in any other dishes. Add some peppers or spicy Mexican cheese blend if you are using the sauce to top nachos.

Cheese sauce ingredients
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  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black (or white pepper)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or light cream)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)

Steps to Make It

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, dry mustard, and pepper.

Ingredients in sauce pan
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Put the saucepan back on the heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Cook ingredients
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Gradually add milk or light cream, stirring until well-mixed.

Add in milk or cream
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Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Cook until thickened and smooth
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Add cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth and well blended. 

Add cheese until melted
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Serve with pasta or vegetables.

Finished sauce
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The recipe makes about 2 cups of cheese sauce.


Add diced pimientos to the cheese sauce for color and flavor.

Add a pinch of cayenne and a dash of garlic powder to the sauce.

Use smoked cheddar for a smoky-flavored sauce.

Use a Mexican blend of cheeses and add chili peppers if using the sauce in a Tex-Mex style dish.

Tips and Ideas

Macaroni and Cheese: To make a quick macaroni and cheese, combine the sauce with 3 to 4 cups of cooked and drained macaroni. Transfer to a buttered baking dish and top with buttered breadcrumbs and more cheese, if desired. Bake in a 350 F oven until bubbly and crumbs (if using) are browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. 

Stuffed Baked Potatoes With Broccoli: Bake 4 to 6 large russet potatoes until tender. Split the potatoes open and fluff the potato lightly with a fork, leaving the shell intact. Arrange on plates. Top with hot cooked broccoli and ladle cheese sauce over the broccoli.

Chicken or Turkey Sandwich Melts: Arrange 4 thick slices of toast on a baking sheet. Top each slice of toast with turkey or chicken slices and a slice of tomato. Drizzle with cheese sauce then top with bacon. Put under the broiler until heated and cheese sauce is bubbly. 

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