Easy cheese sauce

July 18, 2011 | Filed under: Extras, How to...

Cauliflower and cheese sauce probably doesn’t bring back the best of childhood memories, even if the cauliflower was fresh out of the garden with crisp flowerets.  When the cauliflower was cooked till very soft and doused in a cheese sauce, sometimes lumpy, it wasn’t the most appetizing vegetable dish.

Likewise leeks or turnips with white sauce!

However a smooth creamy cheese sauce can enhance other foods or as a major component of lasagna.  The art of making it from fresh individual ingredients instead of out of a packet is actually quite easy.

It is based on the following white sauce recipe and it doesn’t take very long to make.

You do need to concentrate all the time though. Don’t go off and leave the sauce to cook on its own.  I can promise you it will go lumpy if not watched and stirred constantly till it thickens.

White  sauce (the basis for Cheese Sauce – see Variations below)


2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup of milk
¼ tsp salt


1.     Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan.

2.     Add the flour and salt and stir until it is bubbly.

3.     Add one-third of the milk and stir all the time until the sauce boils and thickens

4.     Repeat this twice until all the milk is added.

5.     If you keep stirring the sauce constantly until it boils, you should get a smooth creamy sauce


To make a cheese sauce, add ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese after you have taken the saucepan off the heat.  This is important because if you keep cooking the sauce after you add the cheese, the sauce will become tough and stringy.

If you want a particularly tangy sauce use tasty or well matured cheese.

To make a larger quantity, simply double the amount of all the ingredients.  It pays to annotate the recipe with the new doubled amounts as it is so easy to double some and not all the ingredients – and this can have a devastating effect on the end result!

A cheese sauce for lasagna needs to be a bit thicker so it doesn’t run everywhere when you serve it, and I suggest you use 3 tbsp butter or margarine and 3 tbsp flour to 1 cup milk.

If you end up with a lumpy sauce, or if your sauce has curdled, you can either beat it with an egg beater or you can put it into a sieve and stir it over a bowl until the smooth sauce falls into the bowl.  (You might want to do this out of sight of guests or even the family!)

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Comments (48)

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  1. Mary says:

    I made this and it is amazing. I tweaked it a little to make the cheesy sauce for lasagna. I added 8 oz of the Kraft Italian 5 cheese blend to this and it was the best. I have two kids who are vegetarians and they loved it. I layered chopped fresh spinach instead of steamed or whatever. It cooked perfectly.

  2. Chris says:

    Being gluten and lactose intolerant,I no longer buy the packet variety of cheese sauces. Made a double batch of your recipe this morning with gluten free flour and lactose free milk. I will have mine with parsley and black pepper and I’ll add some tasty cheese to the rest for my guests. Tastes awesome, thank you.

  3. lee says:

    Far too many calories!!

  4. Lydia Wilder says:

    This sauce was soooo simple to do and with stuff in my cupboard already! It tasted delicious. My partner loved it too. So much better than the bought stuff! I am glad I now know as it has inspired me to cook more from scratch, thank you 🙂

  5. Sean says:

    Thanks, very useful.

  6. Helena says:

    Tq for the tips. Not an italian but loves lasagna. Easy recipe n easy to follow n made. Even share the recipe to frens. Tq again.

  7. Sohail says:

    Dear will you please tell me how can i make cheese sauce last longer 10-12 hour without refrigerator??

  8. Matt says:

    Excellent recipe 😀 First time making cheese sauce for the wife, absolutely lovely. Thanks

  9. Vanessa says:

    What a Fantastic and tasty sauce,I have just made it and it is so easy!

  10. Wendy says:

    How much in fluid oz is a cup of milk please? I want to try this recipe to make my own lasagne sauce as I normally use jars but they have so much salt in them! 🙁 so I thought I’d use my own. Thanks.

    • Judy says:

      Here are some metric measure conversions
      1 cup = 250 mls or 10 fluid oz
      ½ cup = 125 mls or 5 fluid oz
      1 tablespoon = 15 ml
      1 teaspsoon = 5 ml

      1 cup flour = 8 oz or 100 gms
      1 cup sugar = 8 oz or 100 gms

  11. renier says:

    Wow, 1st time ever I made cheeze sauce today :). Came out like some 5star dish
    Perfect,smooth and really tasty… So then I decided to make beef stroganoff (favorite food ever)

    I almost cried when the pot was empty when I tried to get a 3rd helping…

    Really amazing recipe
    U could add this to anything… 🙂

    Do you know how many grams is half a cup of grated cheeze? I wanna try make beef rokkafella (stinky yum yum)


  12. Andy says:

    Hi my daughter has just discovered she has a wheat allergy so we are all trying to adjust to cooking without normal flour or bread. Do you have some wheat free ideas on making this chicken schnitzel and cheese sauce PLEASE 🙂

    • Judy says:

      Hi Andy
      I suggest you use cornflour to thicken the cheese sauce. Check the packet to make sure there is no wheat flour included in it.
      For chicken schnitzel, you could try using breadcrumbs from gluten free bread or roll the chicken in pea flour or rice flour.
      There are also commercial flours produced that use different base products like rice or pea or corn.
      These commercial products have a gluten substitute called Xanthan Gum. if you plan to make up your own wheat free flours, I’d advise you to use this gum. It stops the baked products from being too crumbly.
      For more help I suggest you go to a site such as

  13. Lexie says:

    Hi, I was wondering if we could use evaporated milk ? 🙂

    • Judy says:

      Hi Lexie

      I personally haven’t used evaporated milk. I would suggest you dilute it with water to the consistency of fresh milk. Others might be able to enlighten you more than I can on this subject.

  14. MONSTA says:

    COOL . I would like to make some next time I am on cooking duties! (:

  15. Elaine says:

    Really easy cheese sauce – took a couple of mins and was fab.

    Thank you so much x

  16. Sophiet says:

    Only got self raising flour in at mo. Will recipe work or shall I go to the shop for the plain flour. X x

    • Judy says:

      My first thought about this question was that self raising flour would have an ‘interesting’ reaction because the ‘self-raising’ bit of it is the baking powder that helps cakes, muffins etc to rise so they are light and easy to eat. My 2nd thought was that the cheese sauce might taste of of the raising agent in the self raising flour. So I tested it out and made some cheese sauce. And guess what- it was perfectly OK. So no need to make a special trip to the shop to buy plain flour.

  17. kararaina says:

    what an awesome site for good old recipes…miharo..dont change a thing please.

  18. Toni says:

    Thanks Judy
    it took a bit of work and many tastings later had relative success added it to pasta basil chili tomato and bacon I think it was the combined ingredients that made the dish thanks again

  19. Toni says:

    what can u do if too much flour has been added I added more cheese and a little milk but still tastes floury,I have had to refrigerate it until now can I re cook it adding more more milk it’s quite thick appreciate your answer as now have enough for a lasagne!

    • Judy says:

      Hi Toni
      The best way to deal with too much flour is to add more of the other ingredients in the same proportion as the flour. So if you added an extra tablespoon of flour then add another tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup cheese. as you’ve already added some extra cheese and milk you may have to guess a bit to get the proportion of all the ingredients right. And do the taste test again. The ratio for a thicker sauce for lasagne is 3 tbsp butter or margarine and 3 tbsp flour to 1 cup milk. I hope this helps.

  20. Tina says:

    Awesome 1st time making cheese sauce from scratch and your recipe worked a treat thanks so much 🙂

  21. Elaine says:

    When making a sauce for lasagne, how much cheese do u need. I need to make enough sauce for a lasagne for 6. Wot do u recommend?

    • Judy says:

      Hi Elaine. I suggest for a start that you check out our Easy Lasagne recipe. This recipe serves 4. To serve 6 people I would recommend you double the amount (to allow for seconds). If you prefer to use your own recipe then compare the amounts in your recipe with this Easy Lasagne recipe and work out whether you need to double the mixture or not.

      I wouldn’t be keen to add too much extra cheese to the cheese sauce for lasagne as you might upset the proportion of fat to flour and milk and end up with a runny sauce because there is too much fat. In our Easy Lasagne recipe I have suggested adding an extra tablespoon of flour to the cheese sauce to make it thicker so it doesn’t run everywhere when you serve the lasagne.

      If you want a more cheesy flavour for your lasagne use tasty cheddar cheese and maybe an extra 1/4 cup of cheese. However if you are using a lasagne recipe for the first time I suggest you stick closely to the recipe and leave modifying it until next time.

  22. Jacki says:

    World’s worst cook here. And this was EASY!!! Thank you! I added lots of pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper coz I like it spicey! Was fantastic.

  23. Frankie-Leigh says:

    The Cheese Sauce Was BEAUTIFUL a very lovely recipe:)

  24. Denis Bate says:

    Hi Judy,

    Thanks for that, I will try it in a few days time – much appreciated.

  25. Judy says:

    Hi Denis

    To make 1 pint you need to double the recipe shown here. So that will be:
    4 tablespoons flour
    4 tablespoons butter
    2 cups milk
    ½ tsp salt.

    You make it extra thick, add an additional tablespoon of flour.

    If necessary, you can add more flour after you’ve made the sauce (before you’ve added the cheese) by mixing the flour and a little milk in a cup until the mixture is smooth.

    Then add it to the saucepan and stir well till the sauce is bubbling again.

  26. Denis Bate says:

    I need to make 1 pint of cheese sauce (THICK) – using this method I simply don’t don’t know how much of each ingredient to use. Please advise

  27. JG says:

    I just made the cheesy sauce for a lasagna and it barely made it into the oven! I was eating it off a spoon! Perfect ratios and easy instructions thanks!

  28. Steve says:

    How can we make lasagne for two, when one does not like garlic and onion.

    • Judy says:

      Hi Steve

      We’ve done some thinking about your query about how to make lasagne for two, when one does not like garlic and onion.

      Our thoughts are:
      1 Cook the meat mixture without garlic or onion. While the meat is cooking, cook the onion and garlic separately. When the meat mixture is cooked, divide it into two portions and add the onion and garlic to one portion.
      2 Either make the lasagne in two separate dishes, or use one dish and carefully put the onion and garlic meat mixture into one part of the dish. You could keep it separate with a piece of aluminium foil.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how you get on.

  29. I love cheese sauce! It’s my favorite. Thanks for the recipe!

  30. sarah says:

    WOW! This is amazing!!!! and sooo easy too. thanks for this great recipe 🙂

  31. vincent says:

    for a long time I did not know how to get this sauce but thanks to you I follow the direction and bingo there it was just as I wanted it to be. Now I am cooking.

  32. Ross says:

    Great as a base, hard to get wrong, and the perfect portion size for a couple! Thanks!

  33. Topaz-Nz4 says:

    Love this recipe


  34. James says:

    that was excellent, tastes good. thank you, this made my day perfect flavour.

  35. OMG now i haz mac n cheese thankums x_X omnomnom

  36. Bill says:

    I did concentrate which I think was the most important ingredient
    Thank you the result was excellent

  37. jf says:

    you for got the cheese in your ingredients

    • admin says:

      Sorry to confuse you. The basic recipe is for white sauce that you can use to make cheese sauce. The amount of cheese to use and when to add it is in the Variations at the end of the recipe

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