There are several ways to enjoy cheese sauce, such as tossing it with fries, or a bag of tortilla chips, cooking in some pasta, or even enjoying it as mac and cheese. But if the sauce is too thin, you must figure out how to thicken the cheese sauce for the best results.
So how do you thicken your cheese sauce? The most common way of thickening cheese sauce is by cooking it longer so the excess liquid dries up. If this doesn’t help, add a thickening agent or even more cheese to give you the perfect texture.
If you have already made cheese sauce that is too thin, there are many ways that you can thicken it instead of discarding it. This article covers several methods to achieve this.
Why Is My Cheese Sauce Thin?
Your cheese sauce might not come out as you expected for several reasons. In most cases, cheese sauce gets too thin when you don’t cook it as well as you should. It also gets thin if you add excess liquid to the mixture.
1. Milk-To-Cheese Ratio
It is a common mistake among first-time cheese sauce makers to ignore using a recipe. A recipe is important not just for cheese sauce but when making any meal. Using a recipe will ensure you have the measurements right and keep everything in proportion.
You might mess up the milk-to-cheese proportions when you don’t use a recipe. The sauce might become too thin or even too thick by doing so. To prevent this, you should always use a recipe to make your cheese sauce until you no longer need it.
2. Cooking Times
The cheese needs enough time to melt and mix properly with the milk in the right proportion. After it melts, hold on and allow it to cook slowly on low heat until it becomes smooth and consistent throughout.
Sometimes, you might use whole cream milk alternatives like skimmed milk or mix the whole cream and skimmed milk together in halves. However, you might have to reduce the quantity because of is low-fat and contains more water.
Methods on How To Thicken My Cheese Sauce
The most common way to thicken cheese sauce is the addition of thickening agents such as starch agents, cheese, or egg yolks. These ingredients ensure that your sauce does not get too runny. You can also thicken your cheese sauce by cooking it longer under low heat.
Meanwhile, the cheese sauce won’t thicken until it cools down, so you must allow a margin for that to happen. There are different methods by which you can thicken your cheese sauce. Use the most convenient method and allow enough time for each method to work before trying the next.
Method 1: Roux
A roux is one of the most common methods for thickening cheese sauce. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat (such as butter) cooked together before being added to a liquid. The flour helps to thicken the liquid, creating a smooth and creamy sauce.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat to make a roux for cheese sauce. Once the butter has melted, add an equal amount of flour and whisk until smooth. Continue whisking for about 1-2 minutes or until the mixture turns a light brown. Then, slowly whisk in the liquid (milk or cream) until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Finally, add the shredded cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Use equal parts flour and butter to make the roux.
- To remove the raw flour taste, cook the roux until it turns a light brown.
- Whisk in the liquid slowly to prevent lumps from forming.
- Add the cheese at the end and whisk until it’s melted to prevent the sauce from breaking.
Method 2: Cornstarch
Another method for thickening cheese sauce is cornstarch. Cornstarch is a fine powder often used as a thickener in sauces and gravies. When added to the cheese sauce, it helps to thicken the sauce without altering the flavor.
To use cornstarch to thicken cheese sauce, start by mixing the cornstarch with cold water to make a slurry. Then, add the slurry to the cheese sauce and whisk until the sauce is thickened. If the sauce is not thick enough, add more slurry until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Mix the cornstarch with cold water to prevent lumps from forming.
- Add the slurry to the cheese sauce slowly, whisking constantly.
- Don’t add too much cornstarch; the sauce can become gummy or lumpy.
Method 3: Evaporated Milk
A third method for thickening cheese sauce is evaporated milk. Evaporated milk has had most of the water removed, leaving a concentrated and creamy liquid that can be used in sauces and other recipes.
To use evaporated milk to thicken cheese sauce, start by heating the evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the milk is hot, add the shredded cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. The evaporated milk helps to thicken the sauce while also adding creaminess.
- Use evaporated milk instead of regular milk for a creamier and thicker sauce.
- Heat the milk before adding the cheese to prevent the sauce from breaking.
- Whisk constantly while adding the cheese to prevent lumps from forming.
Method 4: Cream Cheese
A fourth method for thickening cheese sauce is to use cream cheese. Cream cheese is a soft, spreadable cheese that can thicken sauces and add creaminess and flavor.
To use cream cheese to thicken cheese sauce, start by heating the liquid (such as milk or cream) in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the liquid is hot, add the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Then, add the shredded cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened and creamy.
- Use room-temperature cream cheese for easier melting.
- Heat the liquid before adding the cream cheese to prevent the sauce from breaking.
- Whisk constantly while adding the cheese to prevent lumps from forming.
Method 5: Cheese Powder
A fifth method for thickening cheese sauce is to use cheese powder. Cheese powder is a dehydrated cheese found in many grocery stores and online. It can be added to sauces and other recipes for a cheesy flavor and thicken the sauce.
To use cheese powder to thicken cheese sauce, start by heating the liquid (such as milk or cream) in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the liquid is hot, add the cheese powder and whisk until the powder is dissolved and the sauce is thickened and smooth. Then, add any additional shredded cheese if desired and whisk until melted.
- Use cheese powder sparingly, as it can be quite salty.
- Whisk constantly while adding the cheese powder to prevent lumps from forming.
- Add additional shredded cheese at the end for a more pronounced cheese flavor.
Homemade Cheese Sauce Recipe
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk it in until it forms a smooth paste. Keep whisking for about a minute until the mixture starts to turn golden brown.
- Gradually add the milk while whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes smooth and thickened.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Be careful not to let the sauce boil, as this can cause the cheese to become stringy or grainy.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that cheese can be quite salty, so start with a small amount of salt and adjust as needed.
- Once the sauce is ready, you can use it immediately or store it in the fridge for later use. If the sauce thickens too much in the fridge, simply reheat it in a saucepan over low heat and add a splash of milk to thin it out.
- Use a good quality cheese for the best flavor. Cheddar is a classic choice, but you can also experiment with other types of cheese like gouda, pepper jack, or blue cheese.
- If you want a smoother sauce, you can strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps or bits of cheese that didn’t fully melt.
- For a spicier cheese sauce, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce.
- If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can use less milk or add more cheese. Conversely, if you want a thinner sauce, you can add more milk or use less cheese.
There are several ways to enjoy cheese sauce, but it sometimes turns out too thin. Using the tips outlined in this article, you can thicken your cheese sauce and enjoy it with your dish of choice.