Hot cheese sauce

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Are you looking for an easy cheese sauce with a little bit of a bite? Check out this recipe for hot cheese sauce with a splash of smoky adobo sauce. The base for this cheese sauce is made with common ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. In addition to that, the spice level of this sauce can be customized to your liking so it is a great option whether you are looking for a sauce with a hint of spice or a sauce that is seriously spicy. 

This recipe for hot cheese sauce is made with gluten free flour so that the sauce will be entirely gluten free. That being said, if you do not have a gluten intolerance then you can just replace the gluten free flour with regular flour. No other substitutions are necessary!

A clear bowl filled with hot cheese sauce. There are pretzel bites surrounding the hit cheese sauce. The photo is taken for a side view.

What is in hot cheese sauce?

What is in this hot cheese sauce? Here are all the ingredients you need to make this hot cheese sauce.

  • Heavy cream. Heavy cream is the main ingredient that is used as the base for this hot cheese sauce. It is generally easier to make cheese sauces with cream as a base rather than milk because the higher fat content in the cream helps to prevent the cheese sauce from curdling.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese is the main cheese that is used in this recipe for hot cheese sauce. For best results, we recommend shredding your own cheese from a block because pre-shredded cheese is coated with starches that can affect the texture of your cheese sauce. That being said, you can also make this recipe for hot cheese sauce with pre-shredded cheese.
  • Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. The spice in this cheese sauce comes from the chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. These chilis have a nice, smokey flavor that really takes this hot cheese sauce to a new level. If you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, make sure you pick up a brand that is made without wheat starch.
  • Gluten free all purpose flour. Gluten free all purpose flour is added to this hot cheese sauce. The flour serves multiple purposes. First, it helps to thicken the cheese sauce. Second, the starches in the flour help to prevent the cheese from curdling. We use this Bob’s Red Mill flour mix and highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a general purpose gluten free flour blend. If you do not have a gluten intolerance, then you can also use regular all purpose flour.
  • Butter. Some butter is combined with the all purpose flour to make a roux that helps to thicken the hot cheese sauce.
  • Salt and pepper. Finally, some salt and black pepper are added to give the hot cheese sauce a little extra flavor.

How do you make hot cheese sauce?

How do you make this hot cheese sauce? Here is how to make this hot cheese sauce. 

  • Shred the cheese (optional). The first step in making this hot cheese sauce is grating the cheese you plan to use. You can skip this step if you are using pre-shredded cheese.
  • Make the roux. The first step in making this hot cheese sauce is to make the roux. Combine the butter and flour in a medium sized pot and mix them together. Cook the roux over low to medium low heat until the mixture develops a light brown tint. 
  • Add the cream. Add the heavy cream to the roux a little at a time until all of the cream has been incorporated into the roux. You should add around a tablespoon of cream at a time until the roux starts to develop a liquid texture. After that, you can dump the rest of the cream in.
  • Add the salt, pepper, and chipotle chiles. Dice any chilis that you want to add to the cheese sauce then add the salt, pepper, and chipotle chilis to the pot with the heavy cream. 
  • Boil the mixture. Cook the cream over medium low heat until it starts to thicken. Generally, the cream will need to boil for a minute or two before it really thickens up.
  • Add the cheese. Finally, take the cream mixture off of the heat and let it cool for a minute before adding the cheese. Continuously stir the hot cheese sauce until the cheese fully melts into the sauce. 

A clear bowl filled with hot cheese sauce. There are pretzel bites surrounding the hit cheese sauce. The photo is taken for a side view.

Adjusting the spice level of hot cheese sauce

Do you want to adjust the spice level of your cheese sauce? Here are some guidelines you can follow to make the cheese sauce more or less spicy. 

  • Mild sauce. This hot cheese sauce is made with chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, which are spicy chiles that are stored in a less spicy sauce. If you want your sauce to be less spicy, you should only use adobo sauce and not add any of the actual chiles to your cheese sauce. Experiment with adding less adobo sauce than we recommend in the instructions then adding more adobo sauce if you decide your cheese sauce is not spicy enough.
  • Medium sauce. If you want your hot cheese sauce to have a medium spice level then you should use a mixture of chipotle chiles and adobo sauce in your hot cheese sauce. 
  • Hot sauce. If you want your sauce to be extra spicy, you should use all chipotle chiles rather than adobo sauce. Feel free to add more chiles than we recommend in the instructions.

How do you store hot cheese sauce?

How do you store this hot cheese sauce? This hot cheese sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eaten within three days after you cook them. Cheese-based sauces do not freeze well because the cheese tends to separate and make the sauce grainy. For that reason, we do not recommend freezing this cheese sauce. 

A clear bowl filled with hot cheese sauce. There are pretzel bites surrounding the hit cheese sauce. The photo is taken from an aerial view.

How do you reheat hot cheese sauce?

How do you reheat cheese sauce? You have a few options when it comes to reheating this cheese sauce. 

  • On the stove. If you are worried about your cheese sauce curdling when you reheat it then the easiest way to reheat this cheese sauce is on the stove. You should put the cheese sauce on a pan over the lowest heat possible and wait for your cheese sauce to melt slowly. Stir the sauce continuously and take it off of the stove as soon as it is warm to prevent it from curdling. 
  • In the microwave. If you want to heat your hot cheese sauce a little faster, you can also heat the sauce in the microwave. If you choose to heat your hot cheese sauce in the microwave, we recommend microwaving the sauce in 15 – 20 second intervals and stirring the sauce between each interval. This ensures that no one area in the sauce gets too warm and curdles. 

Hot cheese sauce

This easy recipe for hot cheese sauce is perfect for anyone who is looking for a cheese dip with a little bit of a bite. In addition to being delicious, this cheese sauce is gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, and nut free.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegetarian
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (minced)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Grate the cheese and mince any chilis that you plan to add to your hot cheese sauce.
  • Heat a medium sized pot over low to medium low heat then add the flour and butter to the pot. Cook the flour and butter for 2 - 3 minutes until they develop a light brown tint.
  • Start adding the heavy cream to the pot a little at a time. As you pour the cream into the pot, mix the cream with the flour.
  • Add the salt, pepper, and chipotle chilis to the cream.
    If you do not want your cheese sauce to be too spicy then you should add the adobo sauce the chilis are stored in rather than adding actual chilis. If you want your cheese sauce to be more spicy then you should add minced chilis.
  • Cook the cream until it starts to boil then let it boil for at least 1 - 2 minutes. Cook the cream until it thickens.
  • Remove the cream from the heat and let it cool for a minute. Add the cheese to the cream and stir the cheese sauce until the cheese melts.

Notes

Using pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese that you buy at the grocery store is generally coated in starches that prevent the cheese shreds from sticking together. These additional starches may cause your cheese sauce to thicken too much. If you are using pre-shredded cheese, we recommend starting out with 1 1/2 cups or 1 3/4 cups of cheese then waiting to add more until you test the texture of your cheese sauce. If your cheese sauce is very thick after adding that amount of cheese, you may be best stopping there.
Preventing cheese sauce from curdling. If you have had trouble with you cheese sauces curdling before, check out this article with tips on how to prevent cheese sauces from curdling

Substitutions for hot cheese sauce

  • Gluten free all purpose flour. If you do not have a gluten intolerance then you can also use regular all purpose flour. You should use the same amount of all purpose flour.

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