Made without any flour, this cheese sauce recipe is thickened using a simple combination of ingredients and seasonings, resulting in a smooth and rich sauce that is sure to please.
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Whether you're serving it as a dip, pouring it over pasta, or using it as a topping for your favorite veggies, this flourless cheese sauce recipe is a versatile and flavorful addition to any dish. What's not to love about an easy recipe that is ready in 10 minutes?
📖Why This Recipe Works
This delicious and creamy sauce is perfect for anyone who is looking for a gluten-free alternative to traditional cheese sauce. Or just wants a foolproof way to ensure their cheese sauce always has the perfect creamy consistency.
No Roux- When making traditional cheese sauces you make a roux with flour and butter and add heavy cream. Not only is this more work but it leaves more room for error. My method is much better if this is your first time making cheese sauce from scratch.
Simple Ingredients- This recipe uses very basic ingredients that are available anywhere.
This easy cheese sauce recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian as written.
Cheese is obviously the star of the show and there are so many great options. The key to a good cheese sauce is to manage moisture and fat. Cheese plays a big role in this. You can use a single type of cheese or combine several types of cheese together.
You can make a white cheese sauce or a yellow cheese sauce depending on the type of cheese you select.
Use full-fat cheese for the best texture. Low-fat cheese will not work as well in this recipe. Especially if you want a smooth sauce.
I typically use shredded cheddar in my cream sauce. And while I love an extra sharp cheddar cheese I find mild cheddar works better because of the higher moisture content.
You could also use Monterey jack or a mix of the two. Pepper jack cheese also works.
If you use American cheese it should be in block form, not pre-shredded or wrapped.
Feeling fancy? Try fontina, a young gouda cheese or gruyere. Yes, you can even use swiss for a quick fondue hack.
Avoid hard cheeses like parmesan cheese or asiago, they will not have enough moisture and the sauce will become grainy.
Evaporated Milk- This recipe uses evaporated milk instead of heavy whipping cream. Evaporated milk is simply whole milk that has been heated to reduce the water content and then canned. Using evaporated milk makes it easier to achieve that thick luscious sauce.
Cornstarch - A little bit of cornstarch is exactly what the cheese needs to get perfectly thick and creamy. That is how we keep our cheese sauce flourless!
Hot Sauce - To give the sauce a bit of peppery spice. While you can use black pepper I prefer to use hot sauce because it is a liquid and blends easily.
Seasonings - I like to add a bit of chili powder and salt. You can swap the chili powder out for garlic powder. I like this option when serving over steamed vegetables.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
💭 Spicy Cheese Sauce Variation
Great for dipping tortilla chips or as a nacho cheese sauce. Adding a diced jalapeno is all you need. I find it best to deseed and very finely mince the jalapeno so it is evenly distributed in every bite. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper with the chili powder.
🍲How to Make Flourless Cheese Sauce
Step 1- Simmer
I prefer to start with a high-sided sauté pan. I find that it makes whisking the sauce easier. Heat the evaporated milk over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Make sure you don't heat it past that or it will start to burn and that can create a grainy texture.
Step 2- Add Starch
While the milk is warming, mix together shredded cheese and cornstarch in a bowl. This will ensure the cornstarch is evenly distributed throughout the sauce.
Step 3- Whisk
Remove the pan from direct heat and slowly add the cheese mixture one handful at a time. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Then add your seasonings and adjust to taste.
If the cheese isn't melting you can return the pan to low heat and whisk constantly until the cheese is melted. You don't want the cheese burning on the bottom of the pan.
Avoid overcooking the sauce. This will cause the cheese to separate and the sauce to become grainy.
🍲 How to Use Homemade Cheese Sauce
There are so many ways to use this delicious cheese sauce. You might want to make a double batch.
- Pour over cooked noodles to make an easy mac and cheese. You can use regular or gluten-free noodles. A great use for leftovers.
- Use a dip for chips or crudité.
- This is the perfect sauce for serving over steamed or roasted veggies.
- Serve on baked potatoes with chopped broccoli, green onions, bacon bits, and sour cream for a loaded baked potato.
- Add to your homemade burritos, quesadillas, or tacos. Or make my homemade nachos supreme.
- Use it as a base for your favorite casseroles from chicken and rice to cheesy potatoes.
- Make a beef and cheddar sandwich or a Philly cheesesteak.
- If you want veggie-based queso but not spicy, stir in 1 cup of pico de gallo.
- Stir in 1 cup of browned chorizo to make meat queso sauce.
Pre-shredded cheeses contain an anti-caking agent that can cause a gritty texture when melted. I recommend shredding your own cheese for the smoothest, creamiest texture.
Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk constantly to reincorporate the sauce. Add a little warm milk to thin it out, as needed.
❤️ More Cheesy Recipes
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
How do you fix a grainy cheese sauce?
To fix a grainy cheese sauce, try the following steps:
- Return the sauce to the stove. heat over VERY low heat.
- Slowly add warm milk or warm water a little at a time, while whisking the sauce. This will help thin out the sauce and make it smoother. Do not add cold water to the warm sauce!
- if you haven't finished adding the cheese do so slowly and whisk it into the sauce until it has fully melted and incorporated.
How do you fix a cheese sauce that is too thin?
There are 3 easy ways to thicken a cheese sauce.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cream cheese. Heat over low heat stirring constantly until melted.
- Shred more cheese and sprinkle on additional thickener. In this case corn starch. Then, heat the sauce over low heat and add the extra cheese. Stirring continuously until it has thickened to your desired consistency.
- Reduce the sauce: Place the sauce in a saucepan and heat it over low heat, stirring continuously. As the sauce heats, it will naturally thicken and reduce. Be patient, as this process can take several minutes.
📖 Printable Recipe Card
Easy Flourless Cheese Sauce
- In a large saucepan or high sided saute pan, heat evaporated milk over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.12 ounces evaporated milk
- While the evaporated milk is warming, sprinkle the cornstarch over the cheese.3 cups cheddar cheese, 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese 1 cup at a time until all the cheese has been incorporated and it has completely melted into the sauce. Stir in the hot sauce, chili powder, and salt. Add diced jalapeno, if using.2 teaspoons hot sauce, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt, 1 jalapeno
Stir in the diced jalapeno at the end.
Note that the hot sauce does not add much heat. If you skip it, add ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ¼ teaspoon white pepper. Storing Leftovers:
Store leftover cheese sauce in an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
Reheat in a saucepan over low heat, whisking frequently. Add a little warm after or milk to help thin it out. Tips:
Use full-fat cheese to ensure a creamy texture.
If the cheese sauce becomes grainy constantly whisk over low heat while adding warm milk or water a tiny bit at a time until the sauce thins out.