Cheese Sauce for Beginners Recipe

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4 votes | 9378 views

Cheese sauce can be tough for beginning cooks to master. Lumps and cheese curdling are two of the biggest problems.

This is a basic cheese sauce that will work for macaroni and cheese, nachos, broccoli and cauliflower, fries, as an additive to casseroles, to use for sandwiches, and more.

This sauce can have things added to it, once prepared, that can enhance its flavor, such as Tabasco, more cheese like Velveeta or Cheez Wiz, herbs, and other seasonings.

You will need the following:

Wire Whisk
Small Saucepan

Cook time:


  • 4 tbs. all purpose flour (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 cups COLD milk or half and half (preferred)
  • 8 oz. mild shredded cheddar cheese, or block cheese cut in very small chunks, or shredded *
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Shredded cheese in plastic bags you buy at the store has additives to prevent the cheese from clumping. If you look closely at it, you will see a fine film of a powdery substance coating the cheese. Block cheese does not have the additives, and produces a better, natural, creamier cheese sauce.


  1. The roux (pronounced roo or rue) consists of equal amounts of butter and flour.
  2. Melt butter over a low heat.
  3. Stir in the flour.
  4. From now on you will be constantly stirring for the next 5 minutes. The whisk will help prevent lumps from forming. The 5 minutes helps reduce the flour flavor that too many cheese sauces wind up with.
  5. Begin adding the milk or cream 1/4 cup at a time. Stir constantly.
  6. Do not add the next 1/4 cup until the sauce is thickened.
  7. This process may seem tedious, but you will be happy with the result at the end.
  8. Once all the milk/cream has been added, continue to cook the sauce over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally.
  9. After the sauce has cooked 8-10 minutes since you addded the last 1/4 cup, remove the sauce from the heat.
  10. (Congratulations, you have just cooked one of the Five Mother Sauces in French cooking - Bechamel Sauce - pronounced besh-a -mel. Look at you!)
  11. Anyway, promptly add the cheese and stir until it's incorporated.
  12. Do not cook the cheese sauce, or it will get grainy or curdle.
  13. Add salt to taste, along with the nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
  14. This is your basic sauce, to which you can add more cheese if you want. Make sure it's room temp and shredded.


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  • A.L. Wiebe
    This is great, Myra. We seasoned cooks who've been making these basic sauces for years, tend to take for granted that everyone else, including the beginner cook, knows how to make them too.

    I've cooked/tasted this recipe!
    1 reply
    • myra byanka
      December 27, 2012

      You're right. Made my fair share of lumpy and floury cheese sauces as a young cook.


    • Wendi Taylor
      Thanks for this. It looks very straight-forward & I have been looking for some good, easy recipes to start experimenting with cheese sauce. Definitely going to give this a try.
      2 replies
      • myra byanka
        December 30, 2012
        Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.

        1 reply
        • Wendi Taylor
          February 17, 2014

          It turned out okay, but it didn't really suit my taste. I had more luck using corn starch as a thickener, just a bit, with cheese as the primary ingredient along with some condensed milk for creaminess. I was looking for a home-made substitute for Velveta, and that seemed to do the trick. This sauce that you have posted, at least the way mine turned out, seemed better suited for casseroles or perhaps a soup. But like I said that is probably just a matter of personal taste. :)


      • Sherri Lee Patrick
        August 30, 2013
        Thanks for the information re the shredded cheese packages. I can't wait to try this recipe.
        • Kyra Martin
          February 1, 2013
          Does this recipe work for any cheese or only cheddar? Do you have to change the recipe for something maybe greasier like gruyere or similar?
          1 reply
          • myra byanka
            February 1, 2013
            I don't see why it wouldn't work with any other cheeses, except hard ones, like Parmesan. I usually use extra sharp cheddar, which I prefer for most comfort foods, nachos, etc. It would be lovely, though, with Havarti, Gruyere, Gouda, and softer cheeses.
          • ShaleeDP
            December 31, 2012
            I love brocolli among other veggies. This is another idea to enjoy it. Thanks.

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