I HATE buying nacho cheese sauce!
The amount of chemicals and preservatives in the ingredient list makes me cringe! Yet my kids beg for it every time we go grocery shopping. I rarely buy it but whenever I do, I promise myself that this is going to be the last time! “I will make it at home! how hard can it be?” I tell myself every time.
Well I finally did and let me tell you, it is not hard at all! In fact, it turned out to be super easy and super quick! All you have to do is add cheese, mustard and paprika to your favorite bechamel sauce! and voila! homemade nacho sauce that the kids loved so much that they ate it with vegetables!
What finally got me to try making my own nacho cheese sauce was this month’s daring cooks challenge
This month, the Daring Cooks got a little saucy! Jenni from the Gingered Whisk taught us the basics of how to make the five mother-sauces and encouraged us to get creative with them, creating a wide variety of delicious, fresh sauces in our very own kitchens.
Bechamel sauce (the base for nacho cheese sauce) is one of the 5 mother sauces. The 5 mother sauces were so named in the early 19th Century by Antonin Careme, a French chef. These are the basic sauces that you can make, and from each of them you can make a huge number of variables
Mother sauces despite what you might think when you hear the name are actually simple. You need a few ingredients to make them but that very fact means that you MUST use the highest quality and freshest ingredients that you can find.
Béchamel Sauce (pronounced Besh-a-mel) also known as white sauce is made from a roux of flour and butter. You then add milk, and season it with salt and pepper. It is that simple! and it is so versatile! you can serve with pasta, vegetable based dishes and in casseroles. Like all the other mother sauces you can make many variations of this sauce include:
- Cream Sauce – adding cream and sometimes fresh herbs
- Cheese Sauce – adding cheddar and mustard and this one goes great with vegetables, pasta or fish and of course tortilla chips
- Soubise Sauce – with the additions of finely diced onions and butter (sometimes crushed tomatoes are added to this as well). A great sauce for vegetables, eggs or chicken.
- Mornay Sauce – adding Gruyere, Parmesan and butter, and is a great addition to eggs, vegetables, pasta or fish.
- Nantua Sauce – the addition of crayfish or shrimp, butter and cream, typically served with fish and seafood.
- Mustard Sauce – addition of mustard to béchamel and goes well with vegetables, eggs or chicken
- To shred or not to shred: If you’re going to the trouble of making your own cheese sauce (which really doesn’t take more than 10 minutes tops and is totally worth it!), Please don’t go for the pre-shredded cheese in bags as they are usually coated with cornstarch or anti clumping substances and that will give you a cheese sauce with a bad consistency. Get a block of sharp cheddar cheese and shred it yourself! It makes a world of difference, Trust me!
- Cheese blend: I personally love the flavor of extra sharp cheddar cheese, but you can use medium if you want. You can also mix and match other cheeses to add more flavor, I have tried to add pepper jack and smoked cheese and they both worked beautifully! Experiment with your favorite cheeses to see what you like best and come up with your favorite cheese blend!
- Real or not real: Use real cheese. Anything labelled “American Cheese” , “processed cheese” or Velveeta is actually a cheese products and not a real cheese, and they will not work well for making cheese sauce.
- Thickening agent: You can useflour or cornstarch but do keep in mind that flour produces a better flavor BUT you have to cook it for a long time toinsure a smooth texture (if you don’t your sauce will be gritty). If you need your thickening agent to act quickly, use cornstarch.
Homemade nacho cheese sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
200 grams cheese shredded
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Dice the butter into small cubes and melt it in a saucepan over low heat.
Once the butter is melted, begin whisking in the flour.
When all the flour is incorporated, continue stirring and cooking for a few minutes.
If you’re making a white or light-colored cheese sauce, keep the heat low so the roux doesn’t brown.
Add the milk and whisk until the mix is completely smooth
Add the cream cheese mustard and paprika
Allow the sauce to simmer until it gets to the consistency thickens
Remove the pan from the heat and gently blend in the cheese. If the cheese doesn’t seem to be melting, return the pan to very low heat, but watch it carefully and remove as soon as the cheese is melted.
Cheese sauce using cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 and 1/2 cups evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 200 grams sharp cheddar cheese shredded
Place a medium pot over medium heat. Add the butter and melt
Add the evaporated milk. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer,then lower the temperature to medium-low.
Stir in the cream cheese and mustard.
Toss the shredded cheese with the cornstarch
Slowly start adding the shredded cheese. Stir and add by the handful, until the sauce comes together. If your sauce becomes a little too thick add a splash of milk.
Serve immediately, or keep warm in a slow cooker or fondue pot.