This creamy homemade cheddar cheese sauce is so easy and really versatile - it's something you should really know how to make. This recipe contains all our tips for making the perfectly silky smooth cheese sauce, which is a must if you are making your own mac and cheese.
We must make our own cheese sauce a couple of times a week, as we use it in so many of our meals, and a lot of our recipes too, so it was about time that we shared our recipe for our easy cheese sauce. A creamy white sauce made up of flour, butter and milk, with a sharp mature cheddar melted in to it.
This really couldn't be easier, and you are going to want to pour it on everything. We have given you a few other ideas of things you can add to this sauce to make it even more delicious too.
Why you will love it
- 4 ingredients - Just flour, butter, milk and cheese is all it takes to make this easy cheese sauce. We have also added an extra optional ingredient, but it can easily be left out.
- Only takes 10 minutes - This only takes 10 minutes to cook, and although you do have to keep an eye on it and stir it regularly, it is super simple to make.
- Adaptable - Use this as the base recipe, and then feel free to customise it with different flavours. We have given some suggestions below.
- So many ways to use it - A good cheese sauce is an ingredient for so many recipes, like casseroles and mac and cheese, so you will never struggle for ways to use this.
- Milk - We used whole milk because it gives a nice thick and creamy sauce, however you could use skimmed or semi-skimmed.
- Flour - This is what helps to thicken the sauce. We used plain flour, but make sure it is sieved before adding to the pan, so you get a nice smooth sauce.
- Butter - We used unsalted butter and then you can season it if you like. The butter is what helps make the sauce nice and silky.
- Cheese - The star of the sauce. We used an extra mature cheddar, as it has a lovely strong flavour. You could use a mild cheddar if you prefer. We have given other options for different cheeses that you can use below.
- Mustard - This is our extra optional ingredient. Not only does it add a little extra colour, but a lovely depth of flavour too, without it tasting too mustardy. We use Dijon, but you could use English mustard.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make cheese sauce - Step by step
One: Put the milk in a saucepan with the flour and butter.
Two: Over a medium heat, whisk until the butter has melted and the flour has mixed in.
Three: Once the sauce starts to thicken (2-3 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard.
Four: Mix until the cheese has melted.
Use this easy cheddar cheese sauce as the base recipe, and then get creative with some add-ins. The easiest thing you can change is the actual cheese that is used. We used a mature cheddar, as it has such a strong flavour that you don't need to use as much. However you can use other cheese that melts well like Swiss, Gouda, Gruyère, Havarti, Colby and Monterey Jack. We wouldn't recommend using mozzarella, because it makes a really stringy sauce.
If you want to add a smokey flavour to this sauce, then a little pinch of paprika is delicious. Other delicious ways to add flavour is a splash or beer (ale) or Worcestershire sauce. A little pinch of nutmeg really adds lots of flavour to the sauce too.
If you like spicy sauces, why not add a splash of hot sauce like Sriracha to this sauce.
How to use cheese sauce
This sauce is so versatile, there is not much that we wouldn't pour it on. The best way to use this sauce is in our Chorizo Mac and Cheese, Cheesy Potato Bake or in our Broccoli Cheese, which is perfect with a roast dinner.
Other ways you can use this sauce are:
- Cauliflower cheese
- Poured over a baked potato
- Nacho sauce
- Pasta sauce
- Dip (we love dipping dough balls or bread sticks in to it or why not try dipping our Courgette Fritters in to it).
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have leftovers of this, then once it is fully cooled you can store it in an air tight container in the fridge for up to two days.
Yes, this sauce freezes well. Once it is cooled, we pour it in to ice cube trays to freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, we pop them out and store them in a freezer bag. You can then just take out a cube or two as and when you need them and defrost in the fridge. This is perfect for making smaller portions like kids meals.
This is the tricky part, especially if the sauce has been frozen and then defrosted. Put the sauce in a saucepan and then heat on very low, stirring constantly so the sauce doesn't split.
There are a few things you can do to stop your sauce going lumpy. Make sure the milk is room temperature and that you have sieved the flour. You also need to heat everything on a low heat.
As well as avoiding a lumpy sauce, you want to avoid having a grainy sauce too. Firstly, make sure you grate your own cheddar, rather than using a package of ready grated cheese. Packets of cheese have a coating on it to stop it sticking together, and this will make a gritty sauce. Also, make sure you turn the heat off before adding the cheese.
• Make sure you sieve the flour before adding it to the pan, as this will help to get a nice smooth sauce.
• If you are reheating this sauce, then you may need to add a little milk to thin it out.
• Make sure you stir it constantly when reheating, otherwise you risk the sauce splitting.
• Add a splash of hot sauce like Sriracha to give this sauce a kick.
• You can use any cheese that melts well, but we don't recommend mozzarella, because it makes the sauce too stringy.
More cheese recipes
If you’ve tried this Easy Cheese Sauce recipe, let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce
- 500 ml (2 cups) Whole milk
- 4 tablespoon Plain flour
- 50 g (0.25 cups) Butter
- 80 g (0.75 cups) Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Put 500 ml Whole milk in a saucepan with the 4 tablespoon Plain flour and 50 g Butter.
- Over a medium heat, whisk until the butter has melted and the flour has mixed in.
- Once the sauce starts to thicken (2-3 minutes), remove from the heat and stir in 80 g Cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
- Mix until the cheese has melted.
- Make sure you sieve the flour before adding it to the pan, as this will help to get a nice smooth sauce.
- If you are reheating this sauce, then you may need to add a little milk to thin it out.
- Make sure you stir it constantly when reheating, otherwise you risk the sauce splitting.
- Add a splash of hot sauce like Sriracha to give this sauce a kick.
- You can use any cheese that melts well, but we don't recommend mozzarella, because it makes the sauce too stringy.
Such an easy and versatile sauce! I love that creamy texture. Definitely perfect for pairing with broccoli.
We added a little Sriracha to ours and it turned out amazing!! Thanks for the great recipe!
Love this cheese sauce! I use it to top veggies and as a chip dip. Easy to make and so much better than store bought!
Excited to give this a try with some veggies with dinner tonight! Looks too good to pass up, indeed!
Served this over steamed broccoli! So good!!!
The touch of mustard in this sauce brings out the flavor so nicely. Love it on top of some roasted broccoli or cauliflower!
Oh I love the added mustard in this. Can't wait to give this a try. My son loves when I make him pasta with cheese sauce.
Rich and delicious. I love the addition of mustard, as it works great with the cheese. Very easy to follow recipe... I'll use it to top many dishes!
This was absolutely delicious and perfect for our mac and cheese the other night! Such an easy and quick cheese sauce to have on hand. Can't wait to make this again, so many recipes to use this for!