KP Cooks

The Nacho Cheese Revelation — Yes, More Cheese Will Save Us All!


The other night I had a huge hankering for some nachos. Usually, in that situation, I would go to the store and get a jar of queso. However, in an effort to avoid eating anything containing ingredients I can’t pronounce, my New Year’s resolution was to not eat any “junk” food. But because I know my willpower can’t always be trusted when certain cravings emerge, I allowed myself a loophole where if I wanted to indulge in my usual processed favorites, I would need to learn how to make a version of them myself.

This might sound like torture to some, but once you’ve made something from scratch you’d normally buy, you’re going to feel unstoppable in your newfound sense of freedom. And that’s exactly how I felt when I made this nacho cheese for the first time.

Your kids, your grandkids, your friends, and your enemies will fall at your feet begging to be blessed with the drizzle of this liquid gold.

I think this recipe might be my biggest revelation, if not the pride, of my entire culinary journey — and I’ve survived the ordeal of making croissants. Getting those labor-intensive pastries to rise doesn’t compare to the satisfaction of producing a smooth, flavorful, nacho cheese sauce.

I’ve attempted nacho cheese before, and it’s just never been awesome. It always turned out too grainy and too thick, which I have decided to chalk up to using flour as the thickening agent. Something has always felt off about concocting nacho cheese with a roux (butter, flour, milk). It’s too formal. It’s like wearing a ball gown to a barbecue. Nacho cheese needs something akin to dirty sneakers. And for that type of grime, I turn to cornstarch.

While considered an ultra-processed ingredient lacking any nutritional value, cornstarch is on its own an ingredient derived from something with a name that I can pronounce and is actually a product I could (through a mildly arduous process) make at home using dent corn. Therefore, I give it a pass on my quest to recreate the junk foods of my dreams.

When I substituted cornstarch for flour in a nacho cheese recipe for the first time, I nearly fainted at how silky the texture was both in the pot and over the chips. It was reminiscent of my days as a teen working a ballpark concession stand, ladling a near-neon orange concoction from a giant can onto a bed of stale tortilla rounds. But now my cheese has an air of sophistication with the addition of sautéed red onion, jalapeños, and real spices.

This recipe is super easy and takes about 10 minutes to throw together. Leftovers (if there are any) can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (if they last that long). And while this cheese sauce is amazing for nachos paired with other toppings like ground beef, black olives, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa, it is also great as a standalone dip. Wherever you decide to serve it, be it at dinner time or during a tailgate party, you’re going to be everyone’s hero.

Nacho Cheese Sauce


  • 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced jalapeños (from a jar) or 1 can of green chiles for a mild heat
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 can of evaporated milk


  1. Shred 3 cups (or one 8-ounce block) of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, melt butter over medium heat, add the red onions, and sauté for about 2 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Next, add diced jalapeños, minced garlic, and spices, sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then sprinkle in the cornstarch and mix well.
  4. After the cornstarch has been thoroughly incorporated, slowly pour in the evaporated milk and stir. Bring to a boil, add the cheese and mix consistently until it melts through, creating a creamy consistency. Take off the heat immediately. The sauce will thicken as it cools down.

Serve right away!

A printable version of this recipe can be found at this link