Learning how to make cheese sauce with heavy whipping cream at home is truly so simple. It's definitely one of those recipes that once you make it homemade, you won't ever go back to store-bought.
This easy cheese sauce recipe just has a few common ingredients and cooks up in only 5 minutes. Whether you're looking for a cheddar sauce recipe for broccoli, chicken, pasta, or zucchini noodles, you'll love this flour-free version.
The cheese sauce with cream is plenty thick, which means no extra starch (and carbs) get added to the recipe. This means that cheddar sauce is also low carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto cheese sauce too!
White Cheese Sauce is a game changer
Do you have kids or a significant other who doesn't want to eat their vegetables?
I understand completely because when my son was growing up, he refused to eat veggies too. Fortunately, that habit didn't stick and surprisingly as a college kid, now has been eating produce more than ever! So there's hope for your kids if you're worried about it!
What's so magical about this cheddar sauce recipe is that it spruces up just about any dish and takes it up a notch. Whether you're making cheese sauce for broccoli, or want a cheddar cheese sauce for pasta, chicken or to use for nachos, this recipe hits every spot.
How many recipes are that versatile??
And if you're wondering about that adorable pouring lid attached to my mason jar, it's a unique design called the Ergo Spout. It takes any mason jar and makes it so easy to pour sauces, juice, homemade dressings, or maple syrup.
They have lots of other colors if you want to check it out.
Serve the sauce with steamed broccoli and pan fried chicken tenderloins to make a complete meal that takes less than 30 minutes that will please everyone in your home!
Homemade Cheese Sauce ingredients
Learning how to make the cheese sauce you'll quickly be reminded of alfredo, well guess what? They are near-identical sauce recipes! The main difference is using sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe compared to parmesan in alfredo.
This is a cheese sauce with cream instead of one that uses flour mixed with milk. Skipping the flour and just using delicious, rich cream is what makes this recipe gluten-free, low carb, and keto cheese sauce.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make the homemade cheese sauce, the exact quantities are listed below with the recipe instructions and on the recipe card.
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Heavy whipping cream
- Minced garlic
- Sea salt
- Ground black pepper
I highly recommend that you buy a block of cheese and shred it. Block cheese melts so much better since pre-packed shredded cheese often contains starch.
Also, the skies the limit when it comes to customizing the easy cheese sauce recipe! Feel free to use half sharp cheddar and half something else. That's what helps this recipe be so unique!
Not a garlic lover? Feel free to skip it if you (or your kids) aren't a garlic fan. We're garlic obsessed over here and basically try to add it in as much as possible.
What cheese to make cheese sauce?
The beauty of a classic and easy cheese sauce recipe is that it's so easy to change up the taste and experiment with a variety of cheeses. Instead of a cheddar cheese sauce, feel free to use a white cheddar instead. Or how about cutting the cheddar cheese to half and mixing in a ½ cup of gruyere to serve on your holiday table?
The options are unlimited! Here are a few of the best cheese sauce options (in our opinion):
- white cheddar cheese
- swiss cheese
- parmesan cheese
- blue cheese
- Monterey Jack cheese
How to make Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Learning how to make cheese sauce is a very similar process to our alfredo sauce recipe. Once it hit me that cheddar cheese sauce was basically a cheddar alfredo, my mind was blown. The possibilities are endless!
Knowing how to make an easy cheese sauce recipe is a must-know kitchen hack for all home cooks. Did you make something that turned out just ok and you don't know how to fix it? Maybe you can just drizzle homemade cheese sauce over it as a quick fix 😉
- Heat a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is warm, melt the butter cube pieces.
- Stir in the whipping cream, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Mix all ingredients together.
- Add the shredded sharp cheddar in batches until it's melted, stirring constantly. You don't want to add it all at once since it could clump. This will just take you a minute or two at most to melt.
- Heat the cheddar cheese sauce recipe to a simmer and then remove it from the burner. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing.
Recipe Note: It is super important that you do not let your sauce come to a boil. At a boiling temperature, the butter could separate from the rest of the sauce or the cream could burn--both of which would cause your sauce to separate.
So easy! Enjoy!
How to Thicken Cheese Sauce
If you want your cheese sauce to be a thicker consistency, add more cheese to the sauce and melt it in over low heat. You can also mix a small amount of cornstarch, all purpose flour, gluten free flour, or arrowroot powder with hot water, and then stir this slurry into the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency.
Best way to serve this Cheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe
One of the most popular uses for the easy cheddar sauce is to drizzle over broccoli. There's seriously no other food that pairs better together than cheese sauce for broccoli.
Especially with instant pot broccoli! Although we could be a little biased since we're avid pressure cooker users!
Whether you're making instant pot broccoli or a roasted broccoli recipe, cheddar sauce for broccoli is a delicious choice.
I've been addicted to making cheese dipping sauce alongside steamed broccoli. If you don't yet have an instant pot but have considered it, this is the one we use and we love it.
More ways to serve Cheddar Sauce
In addition to steamed broccoli, making a homemade cheese sauce for vegetables like cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and spinach would also be fantastic choices.
How to Store Homemade Cheese Sauce
- Store: Storing homemade cheese sauce properly is crucial to maintain its freshness and flavor. First, allow the sauce to cool down to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container or a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store the container in the refrigerator, where the cheese sauce will keep for up to 4-5 days. Reheat it gently over low heat and stir constantly to prevent separation.
- Freeze: We don’t recommend storing homemade cheese sauce since freezing can turn the sauce grainy.
- Reheating cheese sauce: Heat a skillet to low and add the cheese sauce. Stir until it’s heated through, adding a little milk or heavy whipping cream to thin it out if needed.
Keto Cheese Sauce?
If you've been following a low carb or keto diet, then keto cheese sauce is something you'll probably make often! One of the great things about low carb cheese sauce is that with the extra fat from whipping cream and butter, it helps to give you the macros you need when paired with something that otherwise doesn't have the needed fat to help you reach/or stay in ketosis.
Both butter and heavy whipping cream are zero carbs, many kinds of cheddar cheese on the market just have 0 or 1 net carb per serving, so be sure to check your labels! Some of the cheaper brands seem to have more fillers, which often increases the carbs. This is another reason shredding the cheese from the block is ideal.
You'll be thrilled to know this easy keto cheese sauce recipe only has 1 net carb per serving!
Plus it pairs so well with chicken, steak, seafood, low carb vegetables, or you can even use it as an appetizer to dip something like pepperoni chips into.
Cheddar Cheese Sauce FAQs
But what if you want to make the cheese sauce and all you have on hand is shredded cheddar? Yes, you still CAN make your homemade cheese sauce but here are a couple of things to know:
Most store-bought cheddar cheeses include potato starch in the bag, this makes it more difficult for your cheese to fully melt.
If you're following a low carb or keto diet, the pre-shredded cheese has more carbs than a block of cheese (because of that dang potato starch).
Most sauces, especially cheese sauces thicken upon standing. And sometimes you just need to thin it out again because you want the consistency of how things were when you'd just made it.
To make your sauce less thick, simply mix in a little milk or chicken broth when you go to reheat the sauce until it's the consistency you're looking for.
For a cheese sauce, you want a rich flavored cheese that melts smoothly and has a rich flavor. Popular choices include Cheddar (sharp or white), Gouda, Fontina, Gruyere, and Monterey Jack. Combining two or more cheeses also tastes delicious and blends beautifully.
To keep cheese sauce creamy, avoid overheating as this may cause the sauce to become grainy or separate. Use a low heat setting when making or reheating the sauce. Adding a splash of milk or cream can also help in maintaining a creamy consistency.
Also make sure to use cheeses that are high in moisture and fat, since they make sauce creamier.
Here’s a few tips on making smooth cheese sauce. Be sure to use grated cheese and not pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded adds starch to prevent sticking but it also prevents it from perfectly melting. Also make sure to cook your sauce on a low heat since high temps can cause the proteins in the cheese to clump together. Adding an acid like a splash of white wine, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice can help in keeping the sauce smooth.
More Cheese Recipes
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