Easy Cheese Sauce

Broccoli with cheese sauce

Diana Rattray

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 3 mins
Total: 8 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
263 Calories
18g Fat
11g Carbs
14g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 263
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 62mg 21%
Sodium 809mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 937mg 72%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 355mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cheese on everything? Yes, please! Cheesy sauces like this decadent preparation transform plain foods into delicious treats in a matter of minutes. If you need a quick sauce for vegetables, pasta, or even dipping breadsticks, this is the easiest and yummiest cheese sauce you'll ever make. Two main ingredients and five total are all that's required. Less than 10 minutes from beginning to end and you can serve a really thick and creamy sauce. Use it on cooked pasta and add shredded cheese on top for a quick mac and cheese; mix it with steamed vegetables and add some sliced almonds for a nutritious veggie side dish; use it as a dipping sauce on pizza sticks, ham, and cheese turnovers, fried mozzarella, and even baby carrots. This cheese sauce is versatile and so quick, you don't need to make it ahead as it requires so little time it's actually a last-minute deal that can help you give many dishes an extra creamy touch.

For this sauce, you need evaporated milk or light cream. The choice is up to you, but be mindful of a few things before you make a decision. Evaporated milk is fresh milk whose water content has been removed extensively. The final product is a thick and creamy milk that's a pantry staple—the canning process extends its shelf life by years. If you were to reverse-engineer the evaporated milk by adding back the water that was removed, you'd end up with a close equivalent to fresh whole milk. Compared cup to cup, evaporated milk has 338 calories versus the 468 in the light cream, and 17 grams of protein in the canned milk versus just 7 in the light cream. So if you need to watch your caloric intake for any reason, evaporated milk is your best option, plus it might be more budget-friendly than fresh cream and makes a delicious thick sauce. But if using light cream is not an issue, it will yield a silky and irresistible sauce, too. An optional touch of mustard powder and paprika complement the sauce, but you can skip them or add more depending on your taste and family preferences.

For home cooks outside of the United Stated who are unfamiliar with processed American cheese, this is a dairy product also known as slices or singles, usually found in its slice form and commonly used in American households to make grilled cheese and pasta bakes. Preferred by many for its delicious creamy and melty properties, American processed cheese brings to our sauce exactly that, plus a pretty golden yellow hue. If unable to find processed American cheese slices, use a mixture of shredded Colby and young Cheddar instead. Buy the cheese on the block and shred it at home, as already shredded cheeses have anti-caking agents and additives that prevent it from melting properly.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 to 1 cup evaporated milk, or light cream

  • 1 cup processed American cheese

  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

  • 1 dash pepper

  • Optional: 1 dash paprika

Steps to Make It

  1. In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the cream and mustard. Heat over medium heat until steaming hot; do not boil.

  2. Stir in cheese, heating and stirring until cheese starts to melt.

  3. Remove from heat; stir until all cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.

  4. Add pepper and paprika, to taste.

  5. The sauce is not as thick as a roux-thickened sauce, but it makes a good topping for vegetables. It will thicken more as it cools slightly. See below for thicker sauce.

Thicker Cheese Sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of flour; stir to blend and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of evaporated milk or light cream and dry mustard. Cook, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the cheese and heat until melted.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Milk, Canned, Evaporated, added Vitamin D. FoodData Central. United States Department of Agriculture.