How to Make Nacho Cheese Sauce
A nacho cheese dip is every cheese or tortilla lover’s dream. While many people only know the version that is bought at the grocery store, making your own at home is another possibility. In fact, it is not that difficult to prepare homemade nacho cheese. Once you try it out, you will never go back to the store version.
The best thing about creating your own dip instead of buying is that you know what it is made of. The manufactured ones have tons of ingredients that are anything else but cheese. It may sound delicious, but you might not want to eat a cheese dip with some unnatural ingredients on it. With just butter, milk, flour, cheddar and maybe a little cayenne if you prefer a bit of spice, you can create your own dip.
There are also different ways to mix up your homemade cheese dip because you can add your favorite stuff like scallions, jalapeños, tomatoes, and even ground beef if you like. Once finished, you can serve it with soft pretzels, chicken wings, and buffalo chicken for a sports night with friends.
Secrets To A Great Nacho Cheese Dip
- No Processed Cheese At All
As the name suggests, you should use real cheddar cheese and no fake or manufactured ones like Velveeta. What many people don’t realize is that cheese sauce for nachos can be easily made with the real thing, so no need to resort to other ingredients.
Even the kind of cheddar cheese is important. Medium cheddar is the best choice because sharp cheddar becomes grainy or has a tendency to “break off“ compared to medium cheddar. Shred block cheese yourself instead of pre-shredded as they may have anti-caking powder that will change the taste of the sauce.
- Add Some Spices
If you find a normal cheese dip too boring, you can jazz it up with some spices or seasonings. You can try a pinch of garlic powder, cayenne pepper or cumin. You can also try out some green onions or drained tomatoes. Lastly, you can substitute the cheddar cheese with a more spiced kind of cheese like pepper jack. Even a can of diced (or fresh) green chilies are a good idea to play up the nacho cheese dip.
- Perfect The Method
Every step of the recipe should be done properly or the end result can be affected. For example, when making your roux, make sure you cook the flour in the butter for a minute so that the floury flavor comes out.
Another tip is to remove the pot from the hot stove just before you add the cheese. Otherwise, the homemade cheese sauce becomes overheated and it might become too grainy or thick. You can also opt to use low heat only so that the cheese melts fully.
What You Need For Your Own Nacho Cheese Sauce
For a basic sauce, you only need simple ingredients that are available in almost every home.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 oz. medium cheddar (shredded)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
Preparing the Sauce
How to make nacho cheese is pretty simple, although you might work on making a roux to perfect it.
- In a small saucepot, add both the butter and flour. Allow the two to heat up and whisk butter and flour until it is foamy and bubbly. Do not stop cooking and whisking, keeping it on the stove for about 60 seconds.
- Whisk the milk into the mixture, putting the heat higher so that the milk simmers. Once it does, the mixture will change a bit. Turn off the heat when the sauce is thick enough.
- The next step is to slowly mix in the shredded cheddar cheese, adding one handful at a time. Make sure they melt into the sauce, even switching on the flame to low if needed to help the cheese to melt. However, the important thing is to not overheat the sauce.
- Once all of the cheese is melted, add the salt and chili powder. Try it and adjust the seasoning if required. But if it’s too thick, add some milk.
These four simple steps are the easiest nacho cheese sauce recipe you will find. Still, it is certified to be delicious and oh-so-cheesy that you will never go back to store-bought dip.
Is Your Cheese Sauce Grainy?
The dip will not turn out the same if you add in the wrong dairy product or cheese. The right milk is necessary because if you use low-fat milk, it wouldn’t have the fat to help the cheese mix with the sauce evenly. On the other hand, half-and-half allows the cheese to incorporate into the sauce but gives you a thicker sauce in the end. So you might end up adding a bit of milk to make it thinner.
Also, trying a different cheese will give you a different taste or you will find the cheese not melting as well. Mild cheddar cheese is best because sharp cheddar will not melt as easily. A tip is to first use an easy melting cheese as a base before adding some sharp cheddar for the flavor. You’ll end up with the best of bold worlds.
Reheating Your Cheese Dip
You might find that your nacho cheese recipe gives you more dip than you needed. You’ll be happy to know that reheating your dip is easy. Simply put it in a skillet on medium-low heat until it is warm and melted. Add 2 tablespoons of water and whisk so that the cheese becomes creamy again. If it is still too thick, add more water and whisk more. Never reheat it in the microwave.
To store the dip, you can try freezing it. It will get separated but you can whisk it smooth again while reheating it.
Making your own dip is only slightly more difficult than running to the store to buy one but you will end up with a much tastier sauce. Try it out and make it your own favorite.
- Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce – Fifteen Spatulas