This article is written by guest writer Kenneth Haynes. The interesting history of nacho cheese sauce sounds anecdotal but is verified to be true. Some army wives were shopping in Mexico and arrived at a restaurant too late for lunch. The chef used his imagination and assembled the only ingredients available, tortillas, cheese, and a few seasonings, into the first ever nachos. You can easily make your own nacho cheese sauce, and it’s healthier and nicer than that stuff that comes in a jar. It’s also much less expensive.
If you want to enjoy a movie night on the cheap with some nacho cheese sauce, here are four recipes to try. There isn’t one best nacho cheese sauce. It’s your own tastes that matter.
The most popular cheese sauces these days use natural cheeses, not processed cheese. Don’t worry, even if you have had bad luck making a cheese sauce in the past. Even the best really nacho cheese sauce is simple, and they all follow the same basic steps.
A cook’s trick to keep cheese sauce from becoming stringy is to add something a little acidic after the milk thickens.
Another way to save money on your nacho cheese movie night is by refreshing chips you may already have on hand. Stale chips can be crisped back into perfection by popping them into a 375-degree oven for 3-4 minutes.
1. Super simple cheddar cheese sauce
If you are a little intimidated by making sauces with cheddar cheese or just want a quick and simple recipe to which you can add your favorite seasonings, this recipe is for you. It’s ready in under 10 minutes, and you may have all the ingredients on hand already.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
- ¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
- Make a roux, blending the flour and butter in the same pan you will use for your sauce. Choose a pan that will hold about 3 cups, as this recipe makes two cups of sauce and you need to have room to stir without splashing.
- Add the milk and whisk the mix. Now you can add your seasonings. Bring the milk up until it is almost but not quite, boiling and remove the pan from the heat.
- Now stir in the cheese, adding half, stirring it in, and adding the other half, to avoid clumping.
2. Homemade Chunky Style Cheese Sauce
This recipe makes a delicious, chunky style cheese dip with a lot of flavor.
- ¼ cup green bell pepper, finely diced
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
- ¼ cup diced onion, finely diced
- 4 to 5 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. minced jalapeno peppers (optional)
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
- ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce or your favorite hot sauce
- Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
- Sweat the veggies in the 1 tbsp of the butter in the pan you will use to cook the sauce. For the uninitiated, ‘sweating’ means cooking them just until they are soft and translucent.
- Add the remaining butter and the flour. Cook this about 2 minutes, gently stirring.
- Now add the milk and cook until the mixture will coat your spoon. Don’t boil it! Add the Remove the thickened milk mix from the stove and add Tabasco and Cayenne, if you are using them.
- Stir in the cheese by sprinkling about a half of it over the top of the milk, stirring, and adding the other half.
3. Three Cheese Sauce
Cheese lovers will enjoy this gourmet blend of 3 cheeses all in one sauce. If you don’t like pepper jack, substitute Monterey jack cheese.
- 2 Tbsps butter
- 3 Tbsps all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- ¼ tsp chipotle pepper powder
- ¼ cayenne
- ¼ tsp lime juice
- ½ cup grated cheddar
- ½ cup pepper jack
- ½ cup muenster
- Whisk the butter and flour to make a quick, light roux, cooking just enough so the flour doesn’t taste raw.
- Add the milk and cook low and slow until the mixture thickens slightly. Add the seasonings and cook with the milk. Add the lime juice when the mix is thickened.
- Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle one cheese at a time into the mix, stirring between additions.
4. Traditional ‘Mexican Style’ White Cheese Sauce
It’s hard to say whether this sauce tastes the same as the original nacho cheese sauce, but it is a favorite everywhere today.
- 2 Tbsps flour
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ cup half and half
- ½ cup milk
- 1 can chopped green chilis, drained
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- cayenne (optional)
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese
- Stir the butter and flour together over low heat, cooking about 2 minutes.
- Add the milk, half and half, and seasonings and cook until slightly thick.
- Add the chilies, and then stir in the cheese.
And now you’re ready for your nacho cheese movie night, gourmet and on the cheap. Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy!