Better than Velveeta: Simple Cheddar Cheese Sauce

January 26, 2011

Last week I received an email from a user inquiring about whether Velveeta cheese had changed its product. Apparently, the trusty orange brick just wasn't melting like it used to in sauces and dips. And though a little searching did reveal similar complaints from other Velveeta lovers, Kraft kept quiet about any possible ingredient changes.
That got us wondering: If cheddar cheese sauce is what people after, why don't more home cooks make their own? Maybe whipping up a sauce from scratch seems too complicated, too involved. Maybe there's a fear that no homemade version will be as vibrantly orange or creamy. Or maybe folks just like what they're used to.
Whichever the case, the truth is- cheddar cheese sauce is simple, quick, and even a very basic version produces rich, delicious results.

This recipe is a perfect stand in for melted Velveeta. Stir up a pot using any cheese you like and then mix it with elbow shaped pasta for a comforting bowl of macaroni and cheese, spoon it over simply cooked chicken, or even use it to add some flavor to steamed veggies! The beauty is that many of us always have these ingredients on hand, and when you realize how few are required, you wonder why you ever went with the ultra-processed kind in the first place.

Here's what you'll need:

Milk, Cornstarch, Cheddar Cheese, Butter

Stir together the milk and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Stir in butter.

Then stir in freshly grated cheddar cheese. I used a sharp white cheddar, but feel free to experiment with other flavors and varieties!

Continue to stir until the mixture is fully blended and thick enough to coat the wires of a whisk or the back of a spoon. It should thicken more as it cools.

For the full recipe:
Cheddar Cheese Sauce

What about you? Ever tried making cheddar cheese sauce from scratch or are you loyal to Velveeta?

-Andrea Mitchell, Foodista staff and blogger at CanYouStayForDinner.com

Comments

Sandra Mort's picture

LOL! I don't think my children have a clue what velveeta tastes like. It's not only tastier to make it, it's cheaper and better for you. Why anybody buys velveeta is beyond me!

This week, I made 5 lbs of macaroni that was 3.00 for the bag. I took a gallon of whole milk, two sticks of butter, a bit of ap flour, salt, pepper, a pound of cheddar and bits of slighty dry and otherwise unusable cheese to make a cheese sauce. Not counting the cheese that would have gone into the trash, it came to $11 with none of the ingredients on sale. It fed my family of six TWICE, my sister's family of three adults once *AND* I had enough cheese sauce leftover to make three chicken & spinach in cheese sauce pot pies AND one quart of the pot pie filling to supplement my sister's family's dinner. Not too shabby for $11.

Joan's picture

It is just as easy to make cheese sauce using a roux (flour and butter thickener). Melt 2 T butter in a skillet over med heat. Add approx 2 T flour and blend w/ the butter using a whisk. Pour in 1 c milk all at once, stir with the whisk as the sauce starts bubbling and thickening. Add salt and pepper. Take off the heat and gradually add the grated cheese, stirring all the time. The advantage to this sauce is that it will not thin out with further heating, which corn starch based sauces tend to do.

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sandra mort's picture

Joan - Exactly. And the final texture of a white sauce made with a roux is much nicer. Cornstarch is good for some things, and it's quite passable if you can't eat wheat, but for regular cheese sauce, I prefer a traditional white sauce.

One thing I've noticed is that using *HOT* milk or water to add to the cooked flour and fat will help prevent it from lumping.

Cassie's picture

I absolutely hate Velveeta. The ingredients list is mortifying. It is not cheese, it is a block of solid cheese-flavored chemicals. I have heard people complain that cheddar cheese sauce is more gritty and Velveeta more smooth - in my opinion you can solve that by using a softer cheese like Monterey Jack or a cheese blend. Making a cheese sauce seems to be hard but once you do it for the first time it is easy - and you have the freedom to use whatever cheeses you please! Try using pepperjack for spicy mac and cheese :)

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