Best Nacho Cheese Sauce Ever!

Cheese Sauce never had it so good. This simple Queso recipe loaded with jalapeños, chipotle peppers and smoked cheddar cheese is the best nacho sauce I’ve ever made. You’ve got to try this!

The BEST EVER Nacho Cheese Sauce (Queso) #cheese #cheesesauce #queso #cheesedip #nachos

You say party, I say nachos.

Party! Nachos! Party! Nachos!

Sorry… when we get to the end of football season, everything tends to come out in chant format.

What I meant to say, was that it would be a shame to have a Super Bowl party and forget the spicy cheese sauce.

I’m sure you’ve tried the 2 ingredient version with one unnamed block of highly processed cheese product and one can of tomatoes and chiles.

I’m not knocking either of these products, or the queso they make.

I’m just saying… you can do better.

Making The BEST EVER Nacho Cheese Sauce (Queso) #cheese #cheesesauce #queso #cheesedip #nachos

This my friends, is the best queso I’ve ever made.

Start with fresh onions, garlic and jalapeños, sautéed until soft, then add creamy half & half, smoky chipotle peppers, and three fabulous California made cheeses, including smoked cheddar to add a huge punch of flavor.

The reason so many people stick with said processed 2 ingredient cheese sauce is that it’s nice and smooth. However, if you know how to thicken your queso and use quality cheeses (without fillers) you can create the best cheese sauces you’ve ever tried.

We’re using cornstarch, not flour, and the thickening agent. It can be tricky to know when to choose cornstarch and when to choose flour. But the general rule of thumb is that if you plan to cook something a long time, use flour, and if you need your thickening agent to act quickly, use cornstarch.

Flour produces a much better flavor over time, but must be cooked quite a bit to insure your recipe is smooth, not gritty.

BEST EVER Nacho Cheese Sauce (Queso) #cheese #cheesesauce #queso #cheesedip #nachos

In this queso, there are so many bold ingredients to add flavor we don’t need to rely on the flour to build flavor, so cornstarch is the answer for a very smooth creamy consistency.

It’s also important to mention, that block cheese shredded at home produces a much better texture than pre-shredded cheese covered in additives to ward off clumping.

Once you’ve scalded the half & half (also important for texture) keep the heat down and be patient as you slowly stir in the fresh shredded cheese. You’ll be amazed and how rich, creamy, and zesty, this smoky homemade cheese sauce is.

Pour it over tortilla chips, fries, broccoli, burgers, yourself…

Just kidding, let’s stick to food.

Pour it over all things food, and you will be in cheese-lovers paradise.


Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

The Best Queso Cheese Sauce


  • 1 Tb. butter
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 2 chipotle chiles, diced (canned in adobo sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups California half & half (or evaporated milk)
  • 1 Tb. cornstarch
  • 4 oz. California cream cheese, cut into cubes and softened
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 8 oz. California smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. California sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Place a medium pot over medium heat. Add the butter, shallots, garlic and jalapeño. Saute for  3-4 minutes to soften, then add the half & half and chipotle peppers.
  2. Whisk in the cornstarch. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, so the half & half can scald (not necessary with evaporated milk) then lower the temperature to medium-low. Then stir in the cream cheese and mustard.
  3. Slowly start adding the shredded cheese. Stir and add by the handful, until the sauce comes together. If you prefer your cheese sauce a little thinner, add an extra splash of half & half. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a slow cooker or fondue pot.

Related Posts

98 Responses to “Best Nacho Cheese Sauce Ever!”

  1. #
    Kevin @ Closet Cooking — January 27, 2014 @ 7:12 am

    That cheese sauce looks so good!


  2. #
    Jenny Flake — January 27, 2014 @ 7:12 am

    Who doesn’t love queso?!! Yours looks perfect! Bring on the game day eats!


  3. #
    Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living — January 27, 2014 @ 7:29 am

    Love the smoked cheese in your queso Sommer – sounds fabulous!


  4. #
    Brianne Collier — January 27, 2014 @ 7:39 am

    You’re killing my diet… I will spend my cheat day with Srachia pretzels and this queso!!!


    • Sommer — January 27th, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

      Sorry… ;)


  5. #
    Karly — January 27, 2014 @ 7:49 am

    Oh, I HAVE to try this! I’ve never thought of cornstarch for a cheese sauce before. Brilliant! Do you use it for mac and cheese or do you stick with flour for that?


    • Sommer — January 27th, 2014 @ 3:26 pm

      Karly, YES, I’ve make it both ways, but using cornstarch in Mac and Cheese helps it to stays saucy, instead of firming up.


  6. #
    Maggie @ Mama Maggie's Kitchen — January 27, 2014 @ 8:20 am

    Ahhhh! You’re killing me with this picture. Love cheese. Then again, who doesn’t?!! :)


  7. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — January 27, 2014 @ 8:28 am

    Yes yes yes! Three cheers for real cheese! Love the cornstarch idea too. GENIUS.


  8. #
    Tieghan — January 27, 2014 @ 8:35 am

    Who on earth could not love this?? Oh my gosh, it looks simply incredible!


  9. #
    RavieNomNoms — January 27, 2014 @ 8:39 am

    Cheese sauce is so good but is totally the devil. I cannot stop eating it! haha


    • Sommer — January 27th, 2014 @ 3:25 pm

      Ha! That’s why you need to make it when lots of people are coming over. :)


  10. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — January 27, 2014 @ 8:52 am

    Oh this sauce looks luscious!!


  11. #
    Maria — January 27, 2014 @ 8:56 am

    Great game day food!


  12. #
    Heather Christo — January 27, 2014 @ 9:07 am

    who can argue with spicy liquid cheese!? looks delicious Sommer!


  13. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — January 27, 2014 @ 9:24 am

    Well, this just made my Monday more tolerable!! Bring on the cheese, yo!


  14. #
    Melanie @ Carmel Moments — January 27, 2014 @ 9:32 am

    My 11 year old would inhale this stuff. It combines his favorites cheese and hot. Can’t wait to make it! Pinning.


  15. #
    Carolyn — January 27, 2014 @ 9:58 am

    You don’t have to sell me! I love all the smoky flavours you have here.


  16. #
    Russell at — January 27, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    I feel it is my duty as a Texan to test this recipe over and over and over. Yum!


    • Sommer — January 27th, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

      Russell, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Texas. (Grew up in OK.) I think you will approve!


  17. #
    Stephanie — January 27, 2014 @ 11:12 am

    This looks ridiculously delicious! I absolutely adore queso!


  18. #
    Julia — January 27, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    Oh how I love this dip!! It is my weakness..


  19. #
    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche — January 27, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

    Oh lordy. This looks Vegan January is just killing me! Come Saturday I will DIVE into this :D


    • Sommer — January 27th, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

      I hear ya! We’ve had cleaning eating month as well, but there was a moment or two when molten cheese snuck it’s way into the house. Not sure how that happened. ;)


  20. #
    Gaby — January 27, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

    This looks so amazing!! Wish I had some right now!


  21. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — January 27, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

    I love smoked cheese and I believe that this is the best queso!


  22. #
    Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily — January 27, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    Home made is always better! This will be a fun treat to nibble on this weekend.


  23. #
    Amy Cardinal — January 27, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

    My husband LOVES queso but I refuse to buy that unnamed processed cheese block! Is there anyway that you could do this in a crock pot?


    • Sommer — January 27th, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

      Well, you need to saute the veggies and scald the half & half first, but then you might be able to dump it all into the crockpot and stir it up later. But I haven’t tried this, so I can’t be certain.


  24. #
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — January 27, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

    OH THE TORTURE! Seriously, queso is such a magically delicious thing and I can’t get enough of it (especially after our trip to Austin). Looks awesome!


  25. #
    Kasha @ The FarmGirl Cooks — January 27, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

    Looking at these photos is making me very snacky!

    I can’t wait to find some decent jalapenos. This one is a sure thing!

    Thanks :)


  26. #
    Kristen — January 27, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

    This looks like the perfect cheese sauce… love how creamy it is!


  27. #
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — January 27, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

    Yay for queso without that processed cheese in it!


  28. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — January 27, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

    Ohhhhh yes! I need this STAT!


  29. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — January 28, 2014 @ 9:25 am

    love the tip on whether to use corn starch or flour as a thickening agent – I always get confused abt which is best!! this dip looks awesome Sommer!


  30. #
    Lori @ RecipeGirl — January 28, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

    Whoa- LOVE!


  31. #
    vanillasugarblog — January 28, 2014 @ 6:19 pm

    best nacho sauce I can drink!
    lol, kidding, but you know I would…


  32. #
    Matthew Horbund - mmwine — January 28, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

    We do Mexico day now-and-then. I wish I could say I’d pair a wine with this, but it’s screaming MARGARITA!



  33. #
    Trevor aka The Burger Nerd — January 28, 2014 @ 11:53 pm

    That looks frickin awesome! Seems like perfect timing stumbling upon this recipe…Superbowl is right around the corner and this would be a perfect snack for game day. Thanks for sharing it.


  34. #
    marla — January 29, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    I can see this could very well be the best!


  35. #
    Nichole — January 29, 2014 @ 10:02 am

    This could be a dumb question, but what are you meaning when you use “California” half n half, cream cheese, and smoked cheeses? I see you have evaporated milk in parentheses next to the cream, would you use that in place of the cream if you don’t have the “California” cream? I am so excited to make this, been on the hunt for a good queso for a long time, and want to make sure I use the right ingredients!


    • Sommer — January 29th, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

      Hi Nichole, not a dumb question. I like to support the CA dairy farmers because they have such high standards for their dairy products. Use whatever brand of half & half you like. :)


  36. #
    foxyvee — January 29, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    I was directed to your site from the Recipe girl blog – I am adding you to my favorites!

    My kids are going to love this beef and cheese nachos for the weekend!


  37. #
    Nancy Long — January 29, 2014 @ 9:32 pm

    thanks for your answer to Nichole – I was wondering about California cream cheese myself and googled it. Their answer was ‘cocaine’!


  38. #
    rachel — January 30, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

    oh my word, Sommer! That looks and sounds amazing! I may whip some of this up for the Big game this weekend to go with our fajitas! That bowl is darling, love it!


  39. #
    Ilona @ Ilona's Passion — February 1, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

    Delicious sauce


  40. #
    Shaina — February 2, 2014 @ 9:53 am

    This sounds just perfect. I’ve been in need of a good queso that doesn’t used processed cheese food. My kids will be thrilled!


  41. #
    Leslie Schlaefli — February 2, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

    Confused by the 2 tsp yellow mustard. Are you referring to the spice or mustard you get out of the fridge? When do you add it as I don’t see it in the directions?


    • Leslie Schlaefli — February 2nd, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

      My bad. I see it in the directions now.


  42. #
    laura — February 2, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    this looks fantastic!!! I’m also on the lookout for a great queso recipe, but after I find/make one, it’s always gets chunky and lumpy and nasty within a few minutes. So I also revert back to the jar, or that overly processed block of yellow cheese-wannabe.

    I’m definitely going to try this one! Thank you for sharing.


  43. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — February 4, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

    I adore this :) always ready to try a new cheese recipe!


  44. #
    Amy Walker — February 7, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    Wow, I am so making this for my hubby!!! It’s been pinned to my pinterest!

    I made queso the other night and I kept thinking there has got to be an alternative to just velveta, sour cream and rotel??? Thank you!

    I just started following you, pretty please follow me as I just got started on my blog and need some love!!

    On bloglovin I am here!

    Much love,
    Amy Walker


  45. #
    Veronica — March 26, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

    Awesome recipe!

    How does this store for leftovers? Can I keep it in the freezer/fridge then reheat on the stovetop?



  46. #
    Michael — April 28, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

    Is this great for dipping? Want to leave it out for a party for guests to grab some to dip with…


  47. #
    Ambika — May 4, 2014 @ 11:28 pm

    That sauce looks stunning! I am craving for a huge bowl of that sauce and a huge pack of chips right now!


  48. #
    Vicki Gilsinger — May 25, 2014 @ 11:20 am

    having a hard time finding smoked cheddar will it be okay with regular cheddar?


    • Sommer — May 25th, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

      Hi Vicki, Yes! You could also add a little cumin or smoked paprika to get a bit of that smoky flavor.


  49. #
    Sarah — June 9, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

    I’m looking for a sauce like the Nacho Cheese sauce you’d get in the big can at Costco. Is this recipe similar in texture and taste? Thanks in advance!


  50. #
    Amery — June 28, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

    I’ve made this queso several times and its now my go-to for our nacho nights and prices. Love love love this!!!


  51. #
    Kellie — August 4, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

    This sounds so yummy! Can it be made ahead and reheated before serving?


  52. #
    Sarah — August 12, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

    Could this be made a day in advance and reheated? It looks delicious!


  53. #
    Janice Rooney — September 28, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

    And now it’s the best sauce that I make, too! It wasn’t spicy enough for us uringthe first go around, but today I left seeds and veins in one of the jalapenos and it’s just what we needed! Thank you!


  54. #
    Penny & Chris — October 11, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

    This was by far one of the most delicious recipes for queso I have had in a long time. Combining the shredded cheeses along with the cream cheese rather than the processed block of who knows what….was a pleasant surprise and the smokiness was delightful. We enhanced the already delicious recipe by adding ground brisket/sirloin tips. Yummy Yummy yummy!!!!! Thanks for the recipe.


  55. #
    lauren — November 4, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

    how long will this keep for? can i freeze it?

    (i just made this for irish nachos and they were amazing!!!)


    • Sommer — November 5th, 2014 @ 6:37 am

      Hey Lauren, It will keep for up to a couple weeks, well wrapped in the fridge. I wouldn’t try to freeze it though. It changes the texture of cheese.


  56. #
    Theresaswiss — November 12, 2014 @ 6:31 am

    Hi, I live in Switzerland and I’ve been craving queso since the last time I left america! So of course I was super excited to find your recipe but I do have a few problems. Since the swiss have they’re own good cheese they seem to think nobody wants cheddar. Luckily I found a store which sells one kind of cheddar. I have no clue what kind it is. I also found something called “sandwich cheese” it’s cut in slices and probably for burgers or stuff like that, it doesn’t actually look or taste like real cheese but that’s what I think about most the cheeses I ate over there (sorry missouri). What would you say? Can I use them to make a cheese dip? Or do you happen to know a cheese that I can use and that I can buy over here? Maybe Gouda?
    Thanks for the recipe again, I hope I’ll be able to make it!


  57. #
    Paula — November 12, 2014 @ 8:25 am

    Sounds great – but I think it would be even better if WISCONSIN cheeses were used instead…just saying! haha! Thanks for the recipe. I will surely be making this. And Go Packers!


  58. #
    Keri — November 12, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

    how much cheese sauce does this recipe make (in cups)? i see it says 6-8 servings but not sure what a serving size is? i am making it for a crowd so want to double it enough to feed everyone!


    • Sommer — November 13th, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

      Hi Keri, I makes just a little less than 3 cups. Hope that helps!!


  59. #
    Kanmani — November 25, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

    Oh my goodness! Very delicious recipe :)


  60. #
    Sita — December 16, 2014 @ 4:10 am


    This sounds really yummy i’d liek to make it. I’m not from the States so don’t really know what is meant by “half and half” is that cream? What could I use that they sell in Europe?



    • Sommer — December 16th, 2014 @ 6:54 am

      Hi Sita, It’s sold here as half cream and half whole milk. So you can use equal parts of both. :)


  61. #
    Stacy T — December 23, 2014 @ 10:46 am

    This looks amazing! I’m assuming it would be good over enchiladas too?


  62. #
    Pat — January 4, 2015 @ 4:02 pm

    This sauce is so delicious! I didn’t have smoked cheese but wanted that smoky flavour so I added some smoked paprika when I added the mustard. Wow! What a delicious flavour! Also, the next day, I added shredded chicken with the leftover sauce and served it on toasted english muffins. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe.


    • Sommer — January 7th, 2015 @ 5:37 pm

      So glad you liked it Pat!! :)


  63. #
    Binish — January 16, 2015 @ 12:17 am

    Looks so good! I am having company over Sunday night but have plans during the day. Is it possible to make this in advance and just reheat it in the microwave?


  64. #
    Melissa. N — January 21, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

    Hello all! This sauce looks amazing and I will definitely be making it for Super bowl Sunday. I also like that this recipe is a lot easier than other homemade Ve/$&&+@ recipes. I do have a question though… If I am making this to be the cheese over nachos how long will it hold? I guess what I am saying is will the sauce gelatnize while it is sitting on the nachos? I am hoping that it keeps its smoothness while on the nachos… I ask this because while at a holiday party I took home some Mac and cheese and the cheese was a cheese sauce and it definitely took on the shape of the bowl. It looked like an old school jello mold but made out of cheese I think it was made with some processed cheese sauce and I was horrified! Hope to hear from anyone! Have a good day y’all.!


    • Sommer — January 22nd, 2015 @ 8:41 am

      Hey Melissa! It does firm up as it cools. Not to a hard state, but it’s definitely better warm. My suggestion would be to keep it warming in a crockpot and let your guests add their own cheese sauce when they are ready to eat.


  65. #
    Ashley — January 23, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    I’m making this for Super Bowl this year! It looks amazing! I googled California cream cheese to see what the difference was from regular cream cheese and the Urban dictionary’s definition isn’t something I’d want in my cheese sauce or ever for that matter and it makes me regret looking it up on my work pc. ;)


    • Sommer — January 25th, 2015 @ 9:50 pm

      Hi Ashley! “California Cream Cheese” is just cream cheese made and California. Feel free to buy whatever brand of cream cheese you like! :)


      • Ashley — January 28th, 2015 @ 6:42 pm

        Thank you so much for the tip!!

  66. #
    Nate — January 26, 2015 @ 6:11 pm

    Looking to make this the center piece of my nacho buffet for my annual Super Bowl party this upcoming weekend and had a question regarding the Chipotle chilies with the Adobo sauce. Should I rinse off the peppers before dicing, or should I throw in some of the adobo sauce?


    • Sommer — January 28th, 2015 @ 7:27 am

      Hi Nate! You don’t need to rinse them. Just scoop out the peppers and chop away. Happy Cooking! :)


      • Nate — January 28th, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

        Excellent & thanks!


  1. Pingback: Stuff I've Gotta Share and You've Gotta See | Recipe Girl

  2. Pingback: Parmesan Mozzarella Orzo Vegetable Bowl | Allspice and Nutmeg

  3. Pingback: Friday Finds | Whole and Heavenly Oven

  4. Pingback: Best Pinterest Posts » The Weekend Dish: 2/1/2014

  5. Pingback: The Weekend Dish: 2/1/2014 | Kitchen Gadgets for Cooking

  6. Pingback: The Best Queso Cheese Sauce | Good Stuff Only

  7. Pingback: Friday Things | Yummy Cake

  8. Pingback: Best Pinterest Posts » Friday Things

  9. Pingback: Elegant Cakes – Soft Pretzel Nuggets with Spicy Cheese Dipping Sauce

  10. Pingback: The Best Queso Cheese Sauce | Food Stalker

  11. Pingback: Stuff I've Gotta Share and You've Gotta See | Recipe Girl

  12. Pingback: Best Queso Recipe | We Get Healthy

  13. Pingback: 20 of the Cheesiest Recipes for Cheese Lovers | How Does She

  14. Pingback: Best Dips for the Big Game! - Baby Gizmo

Leave a Comment