This nacho cheese sauce is sharp and creamy, and everything you ever dreamed of smothering over nachos, veggies, or a giant pretzel.
Hey, friend, you ever marvel at that super creamy nacho cheese sauce you get at restaurants and movie theaters and wish you could make it at home? I have just the recipe for you.
This nacho cheese sauce is sharp and creamy, just as spicy (or not) as you want it to be, and everything you ever dreamed of smothering over nachos, veggies, or a giant pretzel (<–my fav).
To make it, you just need 5 minutes, AND my secret creamy cheese sauce weapon: evaporated milk.
And I know this might not be something you keep in your pantry. If that’s the case, and you need cheese sauce NOW, no worries, go make my classic Homemade Cheese Sauce. It’s made with butter, milk, and flour, so you probably have the ingredients, and it’s GREAT.
But if you have evaporated milk in your pantry or are going shopping before making this, grab a can and give this recipe a try. You will not be disappointed.
What’s the Deal With Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is just milk that’s been simmered over low heat until more than half of the water content has evaporated, so it’s extra creamy. It’s perfect for giving you extremely creamy cheese sauces without the heaviness of using half and half or heavy cream.
When heated together with cheese and a dash or two of hot sauce, you get something pretty magical.
How to Make Nacho Cheese Sauce
1. Toss shredded cheese and cornstarch together so your cheese gets coated and you don’t end up with any big cornstarch lumps in your sauce. The cornstarch will help thicken your nacho sauce and prevent it from curdling.
2. Heat evaporated milk over medium heat until milk just begins to simmer.
3. Remove the milk from heat and stir in the cheese, a handful at a time, until all the cheese has been incorporated and it has completely melted into the sauce.
4. Add hot sauce, salt, and cayenne, and then taste and add more if needed.
5. And the final, most important step: drizzle your homemade nacho cheese over something delicious, and try not to eat the entire pot. 😉
Can I make this in advance?
Yes. Unlike a lot of cheese sauces, this sauce reheats pretty well (though it will get a little lumpy if reheated too hot and as it cools). It will solidify in the refrigerator but returns to its pourable state when reheated. To reheat:
- On the stove: Transfer sauce to a small saucepan and reheat gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Do not allow to come to a boil.
- In the microwave: Microwave in a microwave-safe dish, stopping to stir sauce every 10-15 seconds as needed until just heated through. Heads up, the sauce will pop and sizzle in the microwave.
Nacho Cheese Sauce for Parties
This recipe makes a little over 2 cups of sauce, but if you would like to make an even bigger batch, the recipe doubles with no preparation changes.
You can transfer your prepared nacho sauce to a slow cooker and keep it set to warm for a couple of hours. Fair warning, it will do that cheese sauce thing where the top sets and gets kind of sad and ugly looking, but if you give it a quick whisk, it returns to looking smooth and beautiful.
What to serve with nacho sauce?
Looking for more things to drizzle nacho cheese over? Try:
Nacho Cheese Recipe Notes
You should be able to find evaporated milk in the baking aisle next to the condensed milk. Double check the can that you’re putting in your cart and make sure that you’re getting evaporated and not condensed milk, because the two CANNOT be used interchangeably. (Though you can and should use condensed milk to make dulce de leche…)
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Quick and Easy Nacho Cheese Recipe
- 3 cups (12oz) freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese *
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 12-ounce can (1 1/2 cups) evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce optional
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper plus more as needed
- In a large bowl, combine shredded cheese and cornstarch and toss to coat.
- To a medium saucepan, add evaporated milk. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until milk just begins to simmer.
- Remove the milk from heat and stir in the cheese, a large handful at a time, until all the cheese has been incorporated and it has completely melted into the sauce.
- Add hot sauce, salt, and cayenne, and then taste and add more if needed. Serve over nachos, fries, or steamed vegetables and enjoy!
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