It can be disappointing to meet a hardened cheese sauce, especially if you had in mind to use it as a dip for your chips. If you’ve ever been in this situation, you’ll be interested in knowing how to prevent cheese sauce from hardening.
Cheese comprises water and fat, and fat hardens when cold, so your cheese sauce is best served hot. But if you want to use it later, add acid or starch. The acid will prevent the starch from coagulating, thereby maintaining a soupy consistency.
It is possible to keep your cheese sauce from solidifying after preparing it, which lies in the preparation method. In this article, you’ll learn how to prepare cheese sauce that stays soupy till finished.
Why Does Melted Cheese Sauce Harden?
If your cheese becomes hard, you may have melted it on high heat, didn’t mix the butter and flour (roux) well, or had too much acid in the mixture. When you quickly change the temperature of the cheese instead of allowing it to change slowly, you have increased its hardening potential.
Because cheese contains fat and water, it is always likely to harden when cold. So you have to properly mix the roux and then melt the cheese on low heat.
Ways To Prevent Cheese Sauce From Hardening
You can prevent your cheese sauce from hardening by dissolving your cheese on low heat. This will slow the cheese from melting fast, and a rapid temperature change will cause the protein in the cheese to solidify. Also, you have to combine the flour and butter mixture correctly.
There are many ways you can prevent your cheese sauce from hardening. Follow the ways below to prevent your cheese sauce from hardening.
Way 1: Melt cheeses at Room Temperature
The cheese melting process will determine whether the sauce will harden. Supposing you just brought your cheese from the fridge, you must keep it until it defrosts to room temperature. When the temperature of the cheese normalizes to room temperature, you can then proceed to melt it.
If you don’t allow the cheese to melt slowly, you quickly change its temperature, causing the protein in the cheese to harden. One helpful tip for melting your cheese before you use it for sauce is to melt it at room temperature.
Way 2: Grate The Block Of Cheese
Melting a large block of cheese may not turn out well. It will be wise to grate the cheese block first so it will be quick and easy to melt. You can use a cheese grater, knife, lemon zester, or food processor to grate the block of cheese.
Way 3: Melt Cheese Block On Low Heat
Your cheese sauce will not harden if you melt it on low heat. This is because you allow the cheese to melt slowly, preventing its protein from solidifying. It is wise to start melting on low heat, and you can gradually increase it. This way, the fat content will not separate from the cheese when melted.
Way 4: Add acid
Acid is an important ingredient in cheese making or fondue. It is very effective at preventing cheese from coagulating. If you are unsure what to add to your cheese to keep it from hardening, add a small quantity of acid from lemon juice or white wine.
The acid works by bonding with the calcium in the dissolved cheese, preventing it from bonding with the proteins in the cheese. The liquid from the juice or wine dilutes the protein and disables it from hardening. Adding acid to the mixture is a helpful solution to keep your cheese melted continually.
Way 5:Add starch
Starch is also ideal for preventing your cheese sauce from solidifying. Adding some cornstarch or regular to the mixture can keep your cheese sauce from clumping and stringiness. Starch works by coating the fats and proteins in the melted cheese, preventing them from separating and sticking.
Way 6: Serve The Cheese Before It Cools
Because cheese contains water and fat, it is more likely to harden when cold. You should serve the sauce immediately after preparing it. Otherwise, it will solidify. You can keep the sauce warm, but it must not cook above its melting point. This way, the melted sauce will not harden before use.
Way 7: Do Not Use Stringy Cheeses
Some cheeses are unsuitable for making sauce because they give a stringy texture after melting. If you want to make a cheese sauce, dip, or fondue, go for cheddar, Muenster, gouda, gorgonzola, Gruyere, brie, etc. Consider the stringiness of cheese before you use it to make a sauce.
Although mozzarella melts better, it is not ideal for making a cheese sauce. Also, cheeses with high water content are ideal for making a cheese sauce.
How To Prepare Cheese Sauce That Won’t Harden
Cheese is a common food that can be paired with other ingredients. You can use it as a topping, sauce, fondue, or dip. You can also eat cheese sauce with nachos, omelets, chicken casseroles, hot dogs, etc. Preparing a cheese sauce is easy. Instead of cheese sauce from the store, you can make one at home.
Before making the sauce, you must gather the ingredients you will use. The following are the required ingredients for making a cheese sauce.
- Butter (40g)
- Flour (1/4 cup)
- Cheddar cheese (8 ounces). You can also combine it with pepper jack.
- Cornstarch (1 tablespoon)
- Evaporated milk (12 ounces)
- Hot sauce (2 tablespoons)
- Salt and pepper – to taste
Follow the step-by-step guide below to prepare a cheese sauce that will not harden.
Step 1: Cook The Roux (Flour And Butter)
Put 40g of butter into a saucepan and place it on medium heat to melt. Pour 1/4 cup of flour into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 mins. Ensure the roux is properly cooked. Then remove it from heat.
Step 2: Add Milk And Hot Sauce
Pour 1 cup of warm evaporated milk and hot sauce into the saucepan. Stir until it becomes smooth. Put on the heat and stir for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Mix Cheese And Cornstarch
Grate your block of cheese and mix it with cornstarch. Cornstarch prevents melted cheese from hardening by keeping the fat in the proteins together. Ensure that cornstarch evenly coats the cheese.
Step 4: Cook The Mixture On Low Heat
Put on the heat and cook the mixture on very low heat. This will prevent sudden temperature changes, and the cheese will melt slowly. Continuously whisk the mixture until it melts and becomes thick. This step will take about 5 minutes.
The melted cheese will look lumpy and loose. With continuous stirring, it will get thick. You can add more evaporated milk depending on how thick you want it to be.
Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Add the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Whisk until well combined.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking the mixture for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
- Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the saucepan, stirring until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
- You can use any type of cheese you like. Cheddar is a popular choice, but you can also use Monterey Jack, Colby, or a combination of different cheeses.
- If the sauce is too thick, add more milk until you reach the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, add more cheese.
- You can also add jalapenos, diced tomatoes, or chopped cilantro to the sauce for extra flavor.
- If you have leftover sauce, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.
In summary, a hardened cheese sauce is not what you want; that is why I have explained how you can prevent it from solidifying. Follow the guidelines in this article to prepare a cheese sauce that will not harden.