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Velvety smooth Homemade Nacho Cheese with real cheddar is incredibly easy to make. Just a few ingredients and a few minutes is all you need!

Never again will you even think of buying pre-made nacho cheese from a jar or using a block of Velveeta. This cheese sauce is creamy, delicious, and packed with flavor. Create an easy dinner your family will love by combining this nacho cheese sauce with some tortilla chips and my tasty secret ingredient taco meat!

platter of nachos with homemade cheddar cheese sauce
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Why this nacho cheese sauce is the best:

  • Real ingredients. This recipe uses freshly grated cheddar cheese, not processed cheese from a block. You’ll be able to notice the difference in the taste.
  • Only three ingredients needed. You’re going to be amazed at how simple, delicious, and easy this cheese sauce is to make.
  • Amazing texture. Cooking with evaporated milk gives you a super smooth and creamy nacho cheese sauce. Other recipes that start with a roux can cause your sauce to separate. They can also be easier to ruin if you’re not careful with the temperature.
  • Simple and easy recipe. This homemade nacho cheese is essentially fool proof as long as you don’t heat it above a medium heat and remove it from the heat once it’s fully melted. So easy!
  • Versatile. Nacho cheese sauce is fantastic on tortilla chips, of course, but it can also be used in so many other recipes.

Once you make my homemade nacho cheese, you’ll never again make nachos by sprinkling shredded cheese on chips and sticking them in the oven or microwave, or by using a pre-made nacho cheese, or by using one made from a block of non-dairy cheese. It’s that delicious and easy!

close up of Homemade Nacho Cheese sauce on chips

Ingredients needed to make this recipe:

Real shredded cheese, corn starch, and evaporated milk. That’s it!

How to make homemade nacho cheese:

Full ingredient list and detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.

  1. Mix: In a small saucepan, toss the grated cheese with the corn starch. Then stir in the evaporated milk.
  2. Heat: Over medium heat and whisking occasionally, within a few minutes you’ll have a warm, creamy, homemade spicy cheese sauce.

While the cheese is nice and hot, smother those tortilla chips and serve it alongside your favorite nacho fixings!

pouring warm Nacho Cheese sauce on chips

Recipe tips for best results:

  • Cooking tips: I love stirring with a flat ended wooden spoon so that I can scrape the entire bottom of the pan.
  • Cheese selection:
    • Cheese grated from a block is the best choice when making homemade nacho cheese as opposed to using pre-shredded cheese. It just melts better.
    • If you can find peppered cheddar like I used in this recipe, I think it’s the best. However, it can be hard to find. If using plain mild, medium, or sharp cheddar, you can add spice by using salsa, roasted green chile, or hot pepper sauce.
    • You can also make this recipe using pepper jack or a combination of cheeses.
  • Keep it warm: If not using all of the cheese right away, you can keep it warm in the pan on the lowest heat setting on the stove or you can transfer to a slow cooker. The crockpot method works exceptionally well when making a big batch and feeding a crowd.
  • Storage and Reheating: Leftover homemade nacho cheese sauce should be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator and used within 3-5 days . It will thicken when cold. To reheat, heat in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave in 30 second increments on 50% power, stirring frequently.
Homemade Nacho Cheese on top of tortilla chips

Did you know…

Original nacho cheese was made using cheddar. Some time in the ’70s, someone started making it with processed cheese that maintains a smooth, clump-free liquid texture when heated. Think movie theater or football game nachos.

Although processed cheese might seem like the right choice since it pretty much stays in it’s liquid form except for the outer skin it forms, it’s not the best choice.

Nacho cheese isn’t just for nachos!

You can easily make this recipe as written, or double or triple it if you’re feeding a crowd. You can make it for family dinner or a large batch for a potluck or tailgating.

Simply set out a ton of tortilla chips, some cooked taco meat or pulled pork, some diced jalapenos, green onions, tomatoes, and olives, and a tub of sour cream. You’ll have people raving over your nacho bar! You can also add it to my Warm Taco Seven Layer Dip.

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Homemade Nacho Cheese

Prep5 minutes
Cook5 minutes
Total10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Velvety smooth Homemade Nacho Cheese with real cheddar is incredibly easy to make. Just a few ingredients and a few minutes is all you need!

Equipment

Ingredients 

Want to save this recipe?
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Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, combine cheddar cheese and cornstarch. Toss until cheese is evenly coated.
  • Stir in evaporated milk and salt. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until cheese is melted and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and keep warm until serving time.

Notes

  • Cheese can be transferred to a slow cooker and kept warm
  • I found the best Pepper Cheddar Cheese (similar to pepper jack) at Costco. I know Trader Joe’s carries a nice variety too. If you can’t find a pepper infused cheddar, you can use plain cheddar and make it spicy with cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, green chile, salsa, hot sauce, and/or chili powder
  • You can also replace some or all of the cheddar cheese with pepper jack.

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 511mg, Potassium: 157mg, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 385IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 315mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

This post was originally created for The Salty Marshmallow where I was a contributor and then shared with my readers because I knew you would love it! It was originally posted on my site in January 2020 and has been updated with additional information to help my readers.

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you're in the right place! Stick around... I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

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11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Grandson could not get enough!!!! Excellent recipe. So smooth and not grainy. Will diffently will make again. Thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    BRILLIANT! I’ve made cheese sauce so many ways including (gulp!) with Velveeta. I don’t like the consistency of Velveeta at all.
    I’m very excited to have this recipe and will use it and your Queso recipe. No more store-bought. Thanks

  3. 5 stars
    I never knew it’s this easy to make nacho cheese at home. I won’t be buying the bottled stuff anymore from now on. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    What a great recipe. I’m still finalizing how many people we’ll host for the Super Bowl, but I’m still looking for really easy, really delicious recipes. I know the boys (and some of the girls) will just leap it up. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

  5. 5 stars
    Some nacho cheese recipes use flour, so I’m glad to find one that is gluten-free! This cheese sauce is creamy and smooth! Perfect for game day! Thanks.

  6. 5 stars
    I am thinking of making this Nacho Cheese for guys plying preference ( a card game) when they spend some time around our house. It seems easy to make to feed the crowd:) The best entertaining snack:)