Nacho Cheese | The Recipe Critic

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This Nacho Cheese recipe is the genuine Velveeta based topping that is full of nostalgia and amazing flavor! It’s so simple to whip up and tastes way better than store-bought.

I know what you are thinking, does anyone really use Velveeta anymore? Well, if you are buying nacho cheese from the store, then this recipe is still a step up from that. It’s also way delicious and so full of childhood memories, you’re going to love it. If you want some other cheese dip recipes without Velveeta, then try this Super Easy Beer Cheese Dip, this delicious Queso Blanco, and this Cheese Sauce.

Nacho cheese sauce in a skillet over tortilla chips.

Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe

We’ve all had the ball game or movie theaters nachos that you always wish had a little more cheese sauce. This nacho cheese is seriously the same flavor with better ingredients! Of course, it still has Velveeta, but that is what gives it the classic flavor. I share a tip below for how to make this recipe without Velveeta. This cheese sauce is the perfect consistency for dipping or pouring over the top of tortilla chips. It has the perfect amount of spice from the jalapenos and cayenne pepper, it’s so hard to stop eating it!

I know it’s a nacho cheese dip, but you don’t have to just put it over chips! It’s also incredible on ground beef tacos or over a chicken burrito bowl. The texture is so silky smooth and the little pop of flavor from the jalapenos is absolutely perfect. This sauce takes just 15 minutes to whip up and it’s always a crowd pleaser! It’s the perfect party food for everyone to enjoy.


We’ve already discussed that this homemade nacho cheese sauce has processed American cheese in it. I share other alternative cheeses below! It’s really simple to make this recipe with pretty much any cheese you want. You can find the measurements below in the recipe card.

  • Butter: You will want to use unsalted butter.
  • Flour: This is for thickening the sauce.
  • Milk: You could use evaporated milk instead, or half and half if you like it a little more creamy. I like to use whole milk when I use the processed cheese.
  • Velveeta Cheese: Yup, good old processed cheese is what this recipe calls for! Check out my tip box below for other cheese options.
  • Chili Powder: This is to add a little spice to the sauce.
  • Garlic Powder: I like to add garlic powder because it makes it super savory.
  • Jarred Jalapeños: You can mince them up if you want to make them smaller. It’s up to your personal preference.
  • Cayenne Pepper: This kicks up the spice level a little.
Process photos showing how to make a roux, adding the rest of the ingredients and whisked together.

How to Make Nacho Cheese

Nacho cheese is so simple to make! Once you make the roux, I would turn the stove down to low heat or medium heat. It doesn’t take very much heat to get the cheese to melt. Other than that, there is absolutely nothing to this recipe. It’s so simple and delicious, your whole family will love it!

  1. Melt Butter: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and melt.
  2. Make Roux: Whisk in the flour to make a roux and stir until a paste forms.
  3. Whisk: Slowly whisk in the milk.
  4. Add Ingredients and Melt: Add in the cheese, chili powder, garlic powder, and diced jalepenos. Whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is warmed through.
  5. Enjoy: Serve warm with chips!
Cheese sauce in a pot with a wooden spoon.

Additions and Substitutions

There are so many different ways to make nacho cheese, don’t get stuck making it just one way! You can switch up the flavors in so many ways, and every way you make it you are going to love it. Here are some ideas!

  • Alternative Cheese: YES, you can make this recipe without Velveeta. It’s actually really simple! You can substitute it for any shredded cheese that melts well. Good options are sharp cheddar cheese, pepper jack, and colby jack. If you choose a cheese that already has spice, I would cut back on the chili powder and cayenne pepper. Using other types of cheeses can change the consistency, so you can add more or less milk as needed.
  • Watch Your Heat: The reason that cheese sauces get grainy is because it hits the milk while the milk is too hot. Make sure you don’t boil your milk and that it isn’t too hot when you add the cheese.
  • Make It Gluten Free: Use a gluten free flour mix to make this recipe gluten free. Any flour that says it is a 1 to 1 substitute with flour will be perfect.

Nacho cheese being poured over tortillas.

Storing Leftovers

Storing leftover nacho cheese is easy, reheating it is the kicker! It can be a really slow reheat, but I’ll tell you exactly how to reheat it and store extras.

  • In the Refrigerator: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Reheat: You can reheat this slowly in the microwave. I would put it in for 15 seconds at a time and stir in between. It is easy to reheat over low heat on the stove, you just have to make sure it doesn’t get too hot!

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the butter and melt.

  • Whisk in the flour to make a roux and stir until a paste forms.

  • Slowly whisk in the milk.

  • Add in the cheese, chili powder, garlic powder, and diced jalepenos. Whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is warmed through.

  • Serve warm with chips!

Serves: 8

Calories182kcal (9%)Carbohydrates10g (3%)Protein13g (26%)Fat10g (15%)Saturated Fat7g (35%)Polyunsaturated Fat0.2gMonounsaturated Fat1gTrans Fat0.1gCholesterol36mg (12%)Sodium994mg (41%)Potassium257mg (7%)Fiber0.1gSugar7g (8%)Vitamin A757IU (15%)Vitamin C0.2mgCalcium379mg (38%)Iron0.2mg (1%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Appetizer, dip, Sauce

Cuisine American

Keyword cheese dip, cheese sauce, nacho cheese

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