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This cheddar cheese sauce recipe is so easy to make with just 3 ingredients! Make it when you need to whip up a sauce in a flash.

Cheddar cheese sauce

Need a cheese sauce in minutes? Try this easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce! Make no mistake: this isn’t a traditional cheese sauce…but it tastes just as good as one. If you’ve made a cheese sauce before, you’ll know it typically includes flour and butter to make a roux to thicken and add body. This sauce though? There are just 3 ingredients: milk, cheese and salt! Use it anytime you’re in a rush: it’s seriously delicious and beyond easy to make.

3 ingredients in this cheddar cheese sauce recipe

Again, this cheddar cheese sauce is a quick and easy trick. If you just cooked some broccoli or made chili fries and need a fast sauce, this is your best bet! A standard cheese sauce uses flour and butter to make a roux, a traditional French way to make a creamy dairy-based sauce. But for this sauce, we wanted something quick and dirty. Turns out, you can make a cheddar cheese sauce with just three ingredients:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Whole milk
  • Salt
Cheddar Cheese Sauce

How to make it, and the tradeoff

This cheese sauce is so quick and simple, it’s perfect for weeknights or when you’re cooking meals with lots of components. There is a bit of a tradeoff in texture, but to us it’s well worth it! Here’s what to know about the process:

  • Heat the milk, then gradually add the cheese. Keep adding small handfuls of cheese until it comes together into a smooth sauce, stirring constantly.
  • The sauce is slightly less stretchy than a sauce with a roux. You’ll notice the texture is slightly different than when you make a cheese sauce with a roux. But we find it’s worth the tradeoff with the ease of making this recipe!
  • Want a classic gooey cheese sauce instead? Go to Cheese Sauce (made with a roux) or Nacho Cheese Sauce (with evaporated milk).

Whole milk is preferable

Another thing to know about this cheddar cheese sauce: whole milk is best. Because the recipe is so simple, we recommend using it if at all possible. Here’s why:

  • Whole milk makes the richest, creamiest texture. It helps hold the sauce together with the milk fat.
  • You can use 2% milk, but it has a grainier texture. We tested it with both, and the 2% sauce was definitely not as desirable texture-wise. If it’s all you have you can try it, but we recommend using whole milk.
Chili Cheese Fries
Chili cheese fries deserve a good cheese sauce

Ways to use this cheddar cheese sauce

This cheddar cheese sauce works in so many different ways! A few caveats: don’t use it for mac and cheese, but it’s great for vegetables, fries, and for drizzling. Here are a few ideas:

This cheddar cheese sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Cheddar cheese sauce

Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minute
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: ¾ cup 1x


This cheddar cheese sauce recipe is so easy to make with just 3 ingredients! Make it when you need to whip up a sauce in a flash. *Note that the texture is looser than a classic cheese sauce; for a gooey texture, go to Cheese Sauce instead. 


  • ¼ cup whole milk*
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the whole milk and the salt over medium heat.
  2. Once just starts to simmer, add the shredded cheese a little bit at a time, stirring and melting before adding more cheese until all is incorporated. This process should take about 3 minutes total, stirring constantly. Once all the cheese is added, serve immediately (does not save well).


*For the best texture use whole milk: it has the creamiest, richest body. You can substitute 2% milk, but the sauce has a grainer texture.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Cheddar cheese sauce

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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