Making homemade nacho cheese sauce should be one of those recipes that you can make with your eyes closed, it’s really that easy! Once you master it, the fun part is making nachos everyday!

tortilla chips covered in easy nacho cheese sauce

Why make homemade nacho cheese sauce?

Simple, it’s because you know exactly what ingredients are used, and there’s only a few of them compared to nacho cheese from a can which might contain a long list of ingredients. My nacho cheese sauce only has five ingredients for making a great sauce perfect for nachos, and it tastes completely like cheese! I can guarantee if you serve this sauce over your nachos, whoever is eating them with you will be your best friend forever, or maybe you’ll just eat them all yourself!

What goes into this homemade nacho cheese?

  • Cheese- Extra sharp cheddar is the best and most flavorful.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Butter.
  • Whole milk.
  • Paprika.
homemade nacho cheese sauce in a bowl with a chip

simple steps to make nacho cheese sauce

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. That’s how easy it is to make real cheese sauce for your nachos! Don’t forget that by doubling the recipe for this sauce it makes an awesome Mac and cheese!

FAQ’s about making nacho cheese sauce

Can I use any other cheese besides cheddar?

You can use Monterey Jack for that gooey texture or Pepper jack for a kick, but the tang from sharp cheddar is what makes nachos so good!

My cheese sauce is too thick?

If your sauce has cooled down slightly it’ll become thicker. An easy fix for this is just to add some more milk and warm over a low heat to bring I back to the consistency you want.

Is Velveeta the same thing?

No, Velveeta is a highly processed product that tastes like cheese.

Can I make my nacho cheese sauce ahead of time?

You can, to reheat just place the sauce back into a pan over a low heat until it begins to melt. Add some milk gradually until the sauce is smooth and pourable.

plate of nachos with easy nacho cheese sauce on top

what are the best toppings for nachos?

  • Pickled jalapeños, sliced.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Beans.
  • Olives.
  • Proteins such as chicken, carne asada, or shrimp.
  • Avocado.
  • Roasted corn.
  • Diced onion.
  • Sour cream.
  • Fresh cilantro.

More cheesy recipes

Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Author: foodnessgracious
Delicious and easy to make nacho cheese sauce. Perfect for pouring over tortilla chips and ading your favorite toppings.
Print Recipe


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk plus extra if needed
  • 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 tsp paprika


  • In a large pan melt the butter over a medium heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk until dissolved.
  • Gradually begin adding the milk making sure to whisk well after each time and the mixture is smooth.
  • Once all of the milk has been added bring the sauce to a simmer then add the grated cheddar in one cup a a time.
  • Whisk until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth and silky. If you prefer the sauce thinner just add a splash more milk.
  • Add the paprika and mix.
  • Serve at once or reheat later by adding some more milk to bring it back to the proper consistency.


Makes 2 cups of cheese sauce.