The Cozy Cook

Nacho Cheese Sauce

Make this easy Nacho Cheese Sauce at home with a variety of cheese options, including Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, and more. Learn my secret trick that makes this the BEST Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe you’ll find!

Serve this with Chili Cheese Dogs, French Fries, Potato Wedges, Tortilla Chips, Crusty bites of bread, or vegetables.

A white platter with tortilla chips topped with Nacho Cheese Sauce.

Nacho Cheese Sauce

Have you ever tried to replicate classic Nacho Cheese Sauce at home, only to end up with a boring, bland result that tastes nothing like the velvety smooth nacho cheese that we all know and love?

I’ve got the secret trick to infusing this sauce with classic nacho flavor. And all it takes is 1 jalapeno, a little hot sauce, and some simple seasonings. Read on and get ready to make some nachos!

How to Make It (Summary)

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Melt butter in a saucepan and add a sliced jalapeno (seeds removed). Let the jalapeno flavor up the butter for about 2 minutes. Remove pepper and leave the butter in the pan.
  • Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes, until you can no longer smell flour.

A skillet with melted butter and diced jalapenos to make Nacho Cheese Sauce.

  • Add the milk in splashes, whisking continuously to ensure a smooth result. 
  • Bring to a gentle boil, reduce to a simmer. Add cayenne, hot sauce, and paprika.
  • Reduce heat to low. If the base is too hot when the cheese is added, you’ll end up with a grainy consistency. Add the cheese.

Adding Cheese to a skillet of roux with milk and seasonings for Nacho Cheese Sauce.

  • Stir continuously until melted and smooth. Serve immediately with chips! Save leftovers for Chili Cheese Dogs.

A skillet filled with creamy Nacho Cheese Sauce.

Pro Tips

  • The most important step is to make sure the base of the sauce isn’t too hot when you add the cheese, or you’ll end up with a grainy consistency. Add the cheese gradually over low heat and stir to combine until fully melted.
  • I find that using Velveeta is the best way to replicate classic nacho cheese sauce at home, but American, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack are all great variations of cheeses that you can use.
  • Don’t use packaged shredded cheese as it contains cellulose and doesn’t melt well. Shred cheese from a block for the best creamy texture and flavor.
  • Rotel tomatoes with green chilies makes a great addition to this nacho sauce.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Reheating

  • Reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add splashes of milk to loosen it up and restore it back to it’s original form.

Can you Freeze Nacho Cheese Sauce

  • Nacho cheese sauce made with Velveeta can be frozen, the consistency once reheated can vary slightly but it’s not a huge difference. Let it defrost first and reheat it in a skillet as outlined above.

A hand dipping a tortilla chip into a skillet of Nacho Cheese Sauce.

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • Box Cheese Grater– Always shred cheese from a block for creamy/melty results. Bagged shredded cheese contains cellulose and prevents it from melting as well in soups/sauces.
  • Mini Crock– Perfect for keeping this warm for serving.
  • Measuring spoons I love that these are magnetic. They keep my drawer neat.

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A pile of Tortilla Chips with creamy Nacho Cheese Sauce on top.

Nacho Cheese Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Make this easy Nacho Cheese Sauce at home with a variety of cheese options, including Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, and more. Learn my secret trick that makes this the BEST Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe you'll find!

Ingredients

  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon hot sauce
  • 8 oz. cubed Velveeta Cheese, see notes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  • Slice the jalapeno in half. Remove the stem and seeds and cut into 8 slices.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes or so, until softened. We want to transfer as much jalapeno flavor into the butter as possible without browning the butter.
  • Remove the jalapeno and whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes or until you can no longer smell the flour.
  • Add the milk, one splash at a time, and whisk continuously to incorporate. If it’s added too fast it could break the roux. Be sure to whisk the whole time until the milk is all incorporated.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the cayenne, hot sauce, and paprika.
  • Reduce heat to low. If the base is too hot when the cheese is added, you’ll end up with a grainy consistency. Add the cheese and stir continuously until melted and smooth.
  • Serve immediately with Chili Cheese Dogs, French Fries, Potato Wedges, Tortilla Chips, Crusty bites of bread, or vegetables.

Notes

• American, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack are all great variations of cheeses that you can use. I find that Velveeta is the best way to replicate classic nacho cheese sauce at home.
Rotel tomatoes with green chilies makes a great addition to this nacho sauce.

Storage
• Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To Reheat:
• Reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add splashes of milk to loosen it up and restore it back to it’s original form.

This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of Nacho Cheese Sauce. Nutritional facts are per cup.

Nutrition

Calories: 510kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 105mg, Sodium: 2055mg, Potassium: 611mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 2459IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 798mg, Iron: 1mg

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10 comments on “Nacho Cheese Sauce”

  1. Perfect amount of spice with the sautéed jalapeño. I haven’t found a nacho cheese in stores that I love- but this was great!
    Definitley made some chili dogs with it and ate the leftovers with chips the next day!

    • I’m so happy you’re enjoying this recipe for Nacho Cheese Sauce!😍 I put this over everything lol. Vegetables, hot dogs, and of course I love it for dipping tortilla chips! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. I’d like to make this but can’t use flour, would corn starch work instead?

    • Hi Jenny, cornstarch can’t be substituted for the flour and used in making the roux, but you could combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp. cold water (whisk or shake until smooth), and add it to the milk when you bring it to a gentle boil. You’ll still want to infuse the butter with the jalapeno at the beginning! 🙂 Let the sauce simmer and thicken until your desired consistency is obtained, the longer it simmers (over low heat), then thicker it will get. Enjoy!

  3. YET AGAIN a FAMILY HIT…we have made this a few times it is way better than any jar you will buy ..you can flavour it how spicy you may want or need.
    WE E N J O Y dipping pretzels and nacho chips and veggies in this ….

    • I’m so happy this was a hit! I totally agree, it can be used in so many ways!😋 I love making it with broccoli. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  4. There’s no mention of how much of the rotelle tomatoes and green chilies to add or if drained first.

    • Hi Susan, there isn’t a set amount, it’s personal preference 🙂 Even as far as if you drain it or not, if you prefer to thin the sauce out a bit, you can add some of the juice. Some people might want just a few tomatoes in there, others may want the whole can. It’s just an optional ingredient to get creative with 🙂

  5. This was such a delicious and fun one Stephanie! My son has always loved nachos so we gave this a shot yesterday and we all loved it. I was nervous it would be too hot so I omitted the hot sauce but it probably would have been fine. Thanks for another great recipe!

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