This Is the Little Black Dress of Cheese Sauces
Versatile, stylish, and subtly impressive—you can put this cheese sauce on anything from tacos to broccoli.
A good cheese sauce can save any number of less-than-spectacular meals and snacks. If your chicken turns out dry and flavorless, or all you have is a bag of tortilla chips and some pickled jalapeños, a cheese sauce can swoop in to save the day. Roast beef sandwich? Put some cheese on it. Steamed broccoli? Cheese sauce. Plain old boiled noodles? Cheese sauce turns that into macaroni and cheese.
The basics of a cheese sauce are pretty much cheese, butter, flour, and milk. This recipe omits the butter that you'd traditionally use to make a roux in place of whisking together the flour and the milk, and then adding the rest of the milk and cheese. This is to avoid adding extra fat to the sauce. But if you don't mind using butter, you can start the sauce by melting about four teaspoons of butter into the pan (that's just slightly over a tablespoon, and it's fine to eyeball it a little) before adding the flour. Then after that's combined, you would add the milk a little bit at a time and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
This cheese sauce is meant to be pretty mild so that picky kids will eat it, but you can always add sharper cheeses to your liking, and more spices. A little bit of cayenne or smoked paprika would be great here, or a touch of nutmeg. You could replace cheddar with parmesan or pecorino cheese and add a lot of freshly ground black pepper to give the sauce a cacio e pepe vibe. Once you have the basic method down, cheese sauce can be yours any time, however you like it.
Get the recipe for Cheddar Cheese Sauce.