This creamy Cheese Sauce is made with 3 kinds of cheese and is perfect on pasta, vegetables, or as a savory dip. Even better, it’s ready in just 10 minutes with very little effort. Whip up a batch for afternoon snacking, nacho bars, or game day spreads!
Three Cheese Sauce
Don’t bother with large cans of gooey cheese when you can make a dreamy sauce from scratch. Plus, you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
The base for almost every cheesy pasta dish we make is this easy cheese sauce recipe, ready in 10 minutes!
But it’s not just for pasta — chips, veggies, and even breakfast favorites are all made better with a drizzle of this creamy cheese sauce.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Roux: All creamy sauce recipes start with a roux (pronounced ROO), including this easy cheese sauce recipe.
This is a fancy French cooking term for a thickener made with equal parts fat (usually butter) and all-purpose flour.
- Milk: You need to add liquid to the roux to create a pourable creamy sauce. In this case, the liquid is milk.
You can use any type you prefer, but using milk with a higher percentage of fat, like whole milk or half & half, will give you the best results.
- Cheeses: We use three types of cheese — Velveeta for the creamy base, plus Pepper Jack and cheddar for loads of extra flavor.
If Pepper Jack is too spicy for your tastes, swap in another Jack cheese like Colby or Monterey.
Tips & Tricks to Make My Easy Cheese Sauce Recipe
- Whisk the milk in slowly.
If you add all of the milk to the roux at one time, the butter will not combine with the milk to thicken the sauce.
As a result, the sauce will be thin, and you will notice butter floating on top of it.
- Incorporate the cheese a little at a time.
When making cheese sauces and cheese-based soups, be sure to add the cheese slowly and add it at the end of the cooking time.
- Use low heat.
Always cook and reheat cheesy sauces over low and slow heat. This guarantees a smooth consistency and prevents it from developing a grainy texture.
- Grate your own cheese.
Skip bagged cheese because the anti-caking agents added to prevent clumping actually affect the texture of the sauce — and make it too thick!
- Grate fresh cheese
- Chop Velveeta into cubes
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Large Saucepan – While this cheese sauce recipe only makes about 1 ½ cups of sauce, you’ll need plenty of room for whisking and melting cheese.
- Cheese Grater – Fresh cheese makes this recipe even better! Skip the bagged shreds and buy fresh blocks to grate yourself.
- Whisk – These have held up for over 10 years and are still as good as the day I bought them. Guaranteed to make your sauce nice and smooth.
Storing and Reheating Creamy Cheese Sauce
While it’s best when served right away, you can store homemade cheese sauce in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Allow it to cool first, and give it a good stir if a “skin” forms on top.
Reheat leftover cheese sauce in a saucepan on the stove. Keep it over low heat, never bringing it to a boil, and stir frequently to prevent it from becoming gritty.
Uses and Serving Suggestions
There’s no shortage of ways to use this Velveeta cheese sauce recipe. Here are some of our favorite ideas to get you started!
- Veggies – Drizzle cheese sauce over cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, or any other veggies. Picky eaters will gobble them up!
- Pasta – Use it to make macaroni and cheese, or serve it over any other type of pasta or noodles.
- Breakfast – Serve creamy cheese sauce over scrambled eggs or hashbrowns for breakfast or brunch.
- Loaded baked potatoes – Top a smoked baked potato or air fryer baked potato with some of this creamy sauce, some crumbled crispy bacon, sour cream, and chives!
- Nachos – It really needs no explanation, but my favorite nachos ever combine pulled pork on tortilla chips with baked beans and this cheese sauce recipe!
Add a few jalapenos and a drizzle of barbecue sauce and you’ll be in heaven.
Cheese Sauce Recipe FAQ
First, start with fresh blocks of cheese that you’ve shredded yourself — they melt down smoother, don’t have thickening agents, and taste better than bagged shreds.
Always keep the sauce over low heat so it’s warm but not bubbling. If you have the time to bring your cheese and milk to room temperature first, that’s another way to prevent a grainy, lumpy mess.
There’s a good chance you didn’t cook your roux long enough if you can still taste the flour.
Once you whisk the flour into the melted butter, let it bubble and cook until it becomes a golden color. Then, whisk in the milk.
Sure thing! I like to add some cayenne to amp up the heat, but smoked paprika is a great alternative. And onion powder and garlic powder are always good for savory flavor.
It’s best to mix any seasonings with the flour when making the roux so they are well incorporated into the sauce.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Creamy Three Cheese Sauce + Video
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded pepper Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the flour, salt and cayenne pepper and whisk to combine. Cook for 1 minute to cook out the floury taste. Don’t skip this step. Trust me, floury sauce is not tasty, and cooking it for a minute will also brown the flour, adding a slight nuttiness to your cheese sauce.
- Add the milk, whisking constantly. Simmer until the sauce begins to steam, about 3 minutes. Decrease the heat to low.
- Add the cheeses a handful at a time, whisking after each addition until the cheese melts into the sauce. Lift your whisk out of the sauce. If there are still cheese shreds on the whisk, keep stirring. Continue adding the cheese and whisking until all the cheese is melted into the sauce, and then stir the sauce until it’s well-combined.
- The sauce will keep in the refrigerator in a mason jar for 3 to 4 days.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published June 2011, updated and republished February 2024
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