This really is the Best Ever Homemade Cheese Sauce. Seriously, it’s good with just about anything, or eat it straight off the spoon! It’s made with creamy cheese, onions, garlic, spices, and a touch of jalapeno.
Ok, let me be honest for a sec. We hesitate to put the word “best” in front of any recipe. Of course, we think it’s the best, but that’s a matter of preference.
There are only a handful of recipes on our site that have ever been called “The Best,” and some of those have been changed as the years have gone by. Most recently, these soft chocolate chip cookies.
So, a little about this cheese sauce, because that’s really why you’re here. It starts off with a simple bechamel sauce, add some half and half, the cheese and that’s pretty much it.
In less than 20 minutes, you’ll be the proud owner of a pan of liquid gold!
You may be wondering why I’m totally in love with homemade cheese sauce.
It would be so much easier to open a jar of cheese dip or melt a block of everyone’s favorite cheese product.
Here’s the deal. When John and I first got married (back when I couldn’t cook), I ate a ton of processed cheese products.
He wanted to make me a cheese dip from scratch with real cream, cheese, and seasonings. It was such a sweet gesture, but I wasn’t convinced that it would taste better.
I gave in, and let John make the cheese dip. Clearly, I was wrong.
His homemade cheese sauce was a thousand times better than what I’d been eating all my life. Since he made it from scratch, he added all my favorites like garlic, onions, and jalapenos.
Not to mention, John was able to control how spicy it was. Anytime we want extra spice, he tosses in a little more red pepper or uses pepper jack cheese.
Maybe we want a gooey sauce. He’ll swap out Monterrey Jack cheese for Muenster.
John’s cheese dip eventually evolved into a homemade cheese sauce after we started using it on vegetables, chips, eggs, noodles, bread, or pretty much anything that tastes good with cheese.
*Notes: This recipe is very versatile. The cheese flavors are interchangeable, but the consistency of the sauce may not be the same.
Jalapenos and red pepper flakes are optional. Add more to increase the heat level, or decrease the amount to reduce the spiciness.
This sauce reheats best at low heat on the stove top, but if the sauce becomes too thick, add a tablespoon of half and half, milk or heavy cream.
My favorite cheeses to use are Cabot Creamery brand. Cabot Creamery brand is not a sponsor of this post.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 jalapeno chopped, (seeded and membranes removed for less heat)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 quart half and half
- 14 ounces good quality shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, Monterrey jack, etc.)
- Melt butter in a heavy bottom stock pot on low-medium heat. A 5-quart stock pot works well.
- Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, red pepper flakes and salt. Continue to cook over medium heat until tender. About 10 minutes.
- Add flour and stir to combine. Using less flour will result in a thinner sauce. Using more flour will result in a thicker sauce.
- Continue to stir for about 3-5 minutes to allow flour taste to cook out.
- Add half and half stirring frequently. Do not allow half and half only needs to be warm enough to melt the cheese.
- After half and half begins to steam, slowly add shredded cheese about 1/2 ounce to an ounce at a time while stirring the mixture with a wire whisk.
- Continue to stir until all the cheese is melted before adding additional cheese. Adding cheese too quickly will cause the temperature to drop and cheese to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- Add cheese 1/2 ounce to an ounce at a time until all cheese is added.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days.