Kirbie's Cravings

Silky Nacho Cheese Sauce

This smooth and creamy nacho cheese sauce is very easy to make at home with just a few ingredients and a saucepan. Serve it with chips, pretzels and nachos for an easy snack or appetizer.

photo of a bowl of cheese dip with tortilla chips

If you love the smooth cheese dip you can get at restaurants, I think you’re going to really like this homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe I’m sharing today. You only need a few ingredients and a saucepan to make it.

We’ve been going through a nacho cheese snacking phase lately and have ordered it a lot when we eat out. I’ve never actually tried making my own, so when I saw a recipe on Serious Eats, I knew I had to try it. The article promised a smooth and creamy nacho cheese sauce with very little effort.

What I like about this recipe is that you don’t have to use Velveeta – regular shredded cheddar cheese works great. I use extra sharp for the best flavor.

​It’s also so easy – you don’t need to make a roux with flour and butter. Instead, cornstarch thickens the sauce, and evaporated milk makes it creamy.

close-up photo of a chip dipped in cheese sauce


  • Extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cornstarch
  • Evaporated milk
  • Hot sauce or a few pinches of cayenne pepper.

The cornstarch is very important because it acts as a stabilizer for the sauce. Without it, the sauce will be stringy and grainy.

The cornstarch works in partnership with the evaporated milk, too. The two together are what create the creamy smooth texture of the nacho cheese sauce. I don’t recommend substituting regular milk because it won’t work and your sauce will be lumpy and grainy.

I like to add a generous amount of hot sauce because I like spicy nacho cheese sauce. Or you can use cayenne pepper. You can reduce the amount or omit it altogether if you don’t want it spicy.

photo of a chip dipped in nacho sauce

One problem I ran into with this sauce is that as it cools it does thicken and the consistency turns grainy and lumpy. This is common with this type of cheese sauce so, because of this, I only make it in small batches. It’s so easy to make it’s not a problem to whip up a batch when we get a craving.

Ways to Serve It

We love this nacho cheese dip with tortilla chips, but there are lots of ways to use it:

  • Using it as a dipping sauce for French fries, pretzel bites or soft pretzels
  • Make a batch of Doritos tacos and drizzle some on top
  • Use it for burrito bowls.
  • Make some loaded nachos
  • Spoon it on burgers or hot dogs
  • Pour it over baked potatoes
  • Make hot ham and cheese sandwiches

photo of a bowl of nacho cheese sauce on a board with tortilla chips

More Easy Snacks

Silky Nacho Cheese Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
This silky smooth cheese sauce is one of our favorite snacks. I like to make it extra spicy, but you can adjust the amount of hot sauce based on your own tastes.
5 from 1 vote


  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk


  • In a medium-sized saucepan, toss the cheese with the cornstarch. Place the saucepan on the stove, add the milk and hot sauce, and turn the heat on to low. While the pan heats up, stir continuously with a whisk until the cheese sauce is thick and creamy.
  • Serve immediately with tortilla chips.


Recipe source: Serious Eats

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

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Recipe Rating

6 comments on “Silky Nacho Cheese Sauce”

  1. This is super easy to make and delicious!  Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  2. Mmmmm. Looks just perfect. And now I want a pretzel to put in it!

  3. how does this compare to the tostito ones you can get in a jar? lol