Recipe Tips And Variations
- Yield: This recipe makes about 2 cups.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Slow cooker: Make the recipe as directed below, on the stove, and then transfer it to your favorite slow cooker . Ive left it on the warm setting for a few hours and all it ever needs is a little stir. It works really well!
- Spicy: You can stir in a can 4-ounce of diced green chiles, drained, for some extra flavor and heat. You can do that on the stove or in a slow cooker. If you add them to the slow cooker, just be sure the cheese sauce is back to hot before serving .
Homemade Soft Pretzels that are soft and chewy on the inside and crackly brown on the outside. Knot or twist your way to the BEST soft pretzels youve ever had!
Create That Smooth Silky Sauce
A combination of cornstarch and evaporated milk creates that silky smooth sauce. Let them simmer together and thicken slightly before adding your cheese.
TIP: Taste test dip with the chips youre serving them with so as not to over-salt! Adjust seasonings if needed.
Take the experience to a whole other level by frying up your own Tortilla chips! Just cut tortillas into triangles shallow fry in oil, drain on a paper towel lined plate and season straight away with flaky sea salt.
Youll love them more than store bought chips!
How To Make Nacho Cheese:
Start by melting some butter in a skillet:
Whisk in an equal amount of flour until combined:
This is called a roux, and it will thicken our sauce.
Next whisk in some milk, and season with salt and cayenne pepper:
I like the heat that the cayenne gives, but you could also add paprika if you prefer.
Once the milk heats through, the mixture should be thick and bubbly.
Now turn off the heat and add freshly grated cheddar cheese:
The freshly grated cheese is important, because pre-shredded cheeses in bags usually have things like powdered cellulose that are there to prevent caking. Those will make your sauce grainy, so make sure you actually buy a block of cheddar and grate it yourself. It only takes a few minutes.
Whisk gently until it melts and smooths out into a creamy, wonderful sauce:
It should have a flowy texture that runs and drips off the spoon in an even ribbon:
If at any point the nacho cheese gets too thick and doesnt run off the spoon, just add more water or milk, and whisk to combine. It will smooth out again beautifully.
Basically what happens is when you cook the mixture on the stovetop, you run the risk of cooking too much moisture off, so you just have to add more. No big deal!
Pour over chips and devour.
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Cheese Sauce For Pretzels
As promised, yesterday I shared our familys favorite snack Homemade pretzels bites. The kids devour them.
Im all about that dipping sauce so of course cheese dip is a must.
I made it and it worked perfectly for the homemade pretzel bites. In fact. it was wonderful and tasted just like Auntie Annes cheese sauce that they give you with their pretzels!
This simple and easy recipe completely solves the problem of delicious creamy cheese sauce for your pretzels.
The Best Serving Temperature
Because cheese solidifies around 90ºF , its best to enjoy the sauce while still warm, above 110ºF . The texture will be more dippable, with a thick coating, but not heavy like pudding. Consuming within 30 to 40 minutes has the best taste.
It takes about 1 hour for it to get closer to room temperature. Youll notice the sauce firm up more due to starch retrogradation, where the gelatinized starches realign to create a gel-like texture. At that point, if you have any dip left, give it a quick reheat.
How To Make Nacho Cheese
More than anything, we love that the recipe is so simple. All it takes is mixing the ingredients together in a saucepan in this order:
BUTTER + FLOUR. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour.
ADD MILK. Pour in milk and stir until mixture thickens.
CHEESE. Add cheese and salt. Stir over heat until cheese has melted and ingredients have blended together.
Tip: If you like spice, add chopped jalapeños to the cheese mixture. The jalapenos add some spice, but if you dont want that, you can also add salsa or even some hot sauce for a bit of nip.
Crockpot? I dont make nacho cheese in the crock pot because it is so simple and quick. However, I do use the crockpot to keep it warm.
What Is Queso Fresco Dip
Queso fresco dip is made from queso fresco, crema Mexicana, lime juice, cilantro, and a little Greek yogurt to thicken it up.
It is different from classic queso dip which is made from American, processed cheese. Queso Blanco comes out much thinner, whereas queso fresco dip is thicker.
Is this dip served warm or cold? We recommend serving queso fresco dip cold. If you try and heat it up on the stovetop, it will curdle.
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How To Thicken Your Cheese Sauce
The best way to thicken your homemade queso is to use cornstarch as the thickening agent instead of flour.
It can be tricky to know when to choose cornstarch and when to choose flour. But the general rule of thumb is that if you plan to cook something a long time, use flour, and if you need your thickening agent to act quickly, use cornstarch.
Flour produces a much better flavor over time, but must be cooked quite a bit to ensure your recipe is smooth, not gritty.
The Role Of Cornstarch
The biggest hurdle when melting cheese is preventing it from turning into a hard clump once cooled. It needs a stabilizer to keep the sauce smooth and emulsified. I prefer to add a controlled level of cornstarch to create a physical barrier. Coating the shreds prevents the protein and fat from clumping back together and tasting greasy.
During cooking, the starches absorb the moisture in the cheese sauce, causing the granules to swell and thicken the loose liquid. The result is a shiny, smooth, stable, and dippable consistency.
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Easy Ingredients For Creamy Cheese Sauce:
With just 4 simple and familiar ingredients, you can make a cheese sauce that is so tasty you will want to drizzle it on everything! Basic ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry and fridge will combine easily and make a creamy sauce everyone will enjoy.
- Butter: Gives the sauce rich flavor.
- Flour: Thickens the sauce.
- Milk: Thins the sauce out a bit and adds sweet flavor.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: Freshly grated cheese will melt better and give a stronger flavor than the coated shredded cheese you can buy in a bag at the store.
What Goes Into This Homemade Nacho Cheese
- Cheese- Extra sharp cheddar is the best and most flavorful.
- All-purpose flour.
Making this cheese sauce begins with a roux which means melting the butter and whisking in the flour to create a paste. This will be your thickener for the nacho cheese sauce along with the cheddar. Making a roux is easy and you can find the perfect tutorial here if you need more information. Once the flour and butter are mixed together, add the milk in stages until you have a white sauce. This is called béchamel sauce. The final stage is adding all of that extra sharp cheddar and a pinch of paprika powder. Thats how easy it is to make real cheese sauce for your nachos! Dont forget that by doubling the recipe for this sauce it makes an awesome Mac and cheese!
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Variations On This Easy Cheese Sauce:
- Creamy Enchilada Sauce: Use Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Add 1 tablespoon of chili powder for an irresistible enchilada sauce.
- Nacho Cheese Sauce: Use Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese. Add 1/2 cup of salsa for an easy nacho cheese sauce perfect for chip dip!
- For Macaroni and Cheese:Double all ingredient amounts! I like cheddar for macaroni and cheese, but use whatever youd like!
- To make dip for Chicken Cordon Bleu Skewers: Use Swiss cheese and add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Its irresistible!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @rachelcooksblog on , , or !
Serving And Storage Tips
Serve: The cheese dip will harden as it cools. It is best to serve directly from a skillet or keep it warm in a mini-crock pot. If it does harden, reheat in 30 second intervals to make it creamy and smooth again.
White queso dip is traditionally served with tortilla chips, but there are plenty of options to suit your personal preference or dietary restrictions:
- Sliced veggies like cucumbers or bell peppers
- Poured on top of our Delicious Enchiladas or Carnitas Tacos
- Scooped up on roasted potato wedges
PRO TIP: A mini crock pot like this is perfect for keeping dips just the right temperature to keep them melty and smooth! Perfect for parties or enjoying snacking and dips.
Store Leftovers: Store leftover dip in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. I would say it lasts about a week, but we always seem to gobble it down. Its easiest to spoon out how much you want and reheat in the microwave in 15-30 second intervals depending on volume. If you reheat too often, the cheese can turn hard but 1-2 times should be fine.
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Tips For Homemade Queso Dip
- In this queso recipe, there are so many bold ingredients to add flavor, so we dont need to rely on the flour to build flavor. Cornstarch is the answer for a very smooth creamy consistency.
- Its also important to mention that block cheese, shredded at home, produces a much better texture than pre-shredded cheese covered in additives to ward off clumping.
- Once youve scalded the half & half keep the heat down and be patient as you slowly stir in the fresh shredded cheese.
Youll be amazed by how rich, creamy, and zesty this smoky homemade queso sauce is.
How To Make It With Canned Chili
If you are in dire need of a quick fix Chili Cheese Dip, you can certainly sub in your favorite canned chili in the place of fresh ground beef.
- If this is the case, add a 15-ounce can of beef chili, Rotel, and the beef broth to a large skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- If youre using canned chili, omit both the chili powder and the cornstarch from the recipe below.
- Another ingredient that will have to be altered is the taco seasoning. Because of the high sodium content in canned chili, either leave this ingredient out or take care to use a low-sodium taco seasoning so that your Chili Cheese Dip is not overly salty!
- Once your chili mixture has reached a simmer on the stovetop, add in the cubed Velveeta and the Cheddar, stirring occasionally until melted.
So here it is. This is a great basic recipe, feel free to play with it.
Toss in some chopped chilis , maybe some chopped cilantro .
Swap out some or all of the cheese for Monterrey Jack, or another favourite cheese in that texture/hardness level.
Its very adaptable! The amount of cheese you end up needing will depend on how much liquid is in your salsa, and what kind of cheese youre using.
Want to get a bit fancier with it? Try our earlier recipe, Southwest Fondue!
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How To Make Cheese Dip
Step one As always, measure out the ingredients. We like a good strong cheddar, but use your favourite cheese.
You need grated cheese, cornflour, milk, and some garlic powder, as well as turmeric and tomato puree for colour.
Step two Mix together the grated cheese and cornflour, until the cheese is well coated. I find the easiest way to do this is to tip it into a plastic box and give it a good shake.
Step three Add all the ingredients to a saucepan. Heat gently for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
Step four The cheese will melt into the milk. Keep stirring!
Step five When the dip has thickened, serve immediately. If you want to make it in advance, you can set it aside and then reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds on half power.
Spicy Nacho Cheese Sauce
This is my favorite recipe for cheese dipping sauce. This spicy nacho cheese sauce is absolutely awesome with veggies, soft pretzels, and nachos! None of that processed stuff, either.
Seriously! What is better than a bowl of silky, creamy, spicy nacho cheese sauce? Nothing. A far cry from processed, this spicy nacho cheese sauce is to die for. I love serving it with soft pretzel bites or pouring on top of a big bowl of broccoli. Its how I get everyone to their vegetables. Just kidding but not really.
Making nacho cheese sauce at home is not difficult. Its actually one of the easiest and quickest little recipes around. There is no excuse to buy anything from a can or from a jar. Homemade cheese sauce, made from real sharp cheddar cheese, is the only way to go. Plus, it tastes worlds better.
I love serving this spicy nacho cheese sauce right from the stove when its warm. But this cheese sauce keeps well covered tightly in the refrigerator for about 1 week. Just heat it up before serving its a great item to make ahead before the guests arrive.
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Hints & Tips For Seriously Easy Cheese Dip
- The turmeric and tomato puree are optional, but they do make this dip a gorgeous rich orange colour and a give a real punch that suits tortilla chips. You could add a little red chilli too, to create a Mexican feel.
- Substitute some of the cheddar with mozzarella for a really stringy dip.
- Try a different cheese like a good mature Red Leicester.
- Leave out the garlic powder if its not your thing. You could use a little mustard instead.
- You could add curry powder for a hint of heat, resulting in a delicious cheesy curry sauce for chips.
- Add some Italian seasoning.
- Serve with a dollop of onion chutney for an onion cheese melting pot.
- Make a double or quadruple batch and serve in a fondue pan over a low flame at a party try using gruyère and Dijon mustard instead of the cheddar and tomato.
Why Evaporated Milk Makes The Sauce More Creamy
Evaporated milk contains two ingredients that may be unfamiliar. Dipotassium phosphate prevents the milk from turning into curds when heated. Carrageenan helps stabilize, emulsify, and thicken milk products. During testing, I noticed a more creamy smooth texture when using evaporated milk than whole milk, which gave a thinner consistency. It made the difference! You can substitute milk, but the sauce will be runnier.
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Ingredients You Need For Nacho Cheese
- Butter is the base of our rue it helps the flour melt into the sauce to create a thick, rich cheese sauce.
- Flour is our thickener! For a gluten free version, see below!
- Milk is the main wet ingredient in our sauce it helps the cheese melt without burning! I used whole milk, but skim would also work! This recipe also works with beer if you want to make a beer cheese dip.
- Cheddar cheese. I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself it melts much more smoothly that way.
- Seasoning. Salt, garlic powder, and paprika are my seasonings of choice! Feel free to leave them out or swap them for your favorite taco seasoning.
When Choosing Cheese:
For the cream cheese: Cream cheese is a major player in this recipe in terms of the flavor and consistency it adds. I recommend Philadelphia cream cheese and definitely recommend sticking with the full fat version!
For the cheese: I use pepperjack and sharp cheddar cheese. I beg you to avoid buying pre-shredded cheese at the store. I know its convenient but, especially when your melting cheese, pre-shredded cheese is NOT the way to go. Block cheese melts much smoother and tastes SO much better!
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How To Store Queso
I always question the best way to store leftovers and how long will leftovers last. To store extra queso, youll want to allow it to cool and then place it in an airtight container. You can keep the queso in your refrigerator for 2-3 days.
You can also freeze extra queso by placing it into an airtight storage container or plastic zip-closure bas and then place in the freezer. To thaw, place the queso in the refrigerator for 1-2 days and then warm slowly in the microwave or on the stovetop.
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VARIATIONS ON HOT BACON CHEESE DIP
- Cheese: You can experiment with your Hot Bacon Cheese Dip by using different types of cheese. Along with the shredded cheddar cheese try mixing in Swiss cheese, Monterey Jack, American, or mozzarella cheese.
- Spicy dip: For a little extra heat in your Hot Bacon Cheese Dip, try adding cayenne pepper flakes or mixing in a little hot sauce. Make sure to add the spicy ingredients slowly to the Hot Bacon Cheese Dip. That way you dont end up with something too spicy to eat.
- Add-ins: For more variations try mixing in a teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or fresh parsley with the Hot Bacon Cheese Dip. You can have fun experimenting with different herbs and seasonings. You could even chop up some green onion or chives to sprinkle over the top before serving.
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