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Cinema Style Nacho Cheese Sauce

If you’ve ever wondered how to make nacho cheese sauce like the cinemas, this recipe is perfect for you. Great for movie nights, you can bring that cinema experience a little closer to home with your own cinema style nacho cheese recipe. Using only natural cheeses, this super-quick, easy recipe is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

A bowl of nacho cheese surrounded by nachos and a separate bowl of guacamole.

What Makes This Recipe Great!

  • Quick and Easy – You can have nacho cheese sauce ready in under 10 minutes and doesn’t need many ingredients.
  • Healthier – This dip only uses natural cheeses, so kids can enjoy it too.
  • You Can Make it Ahead – This nacho cheese sauce recipe is super easy to reheat. Just pop it in the microwave and for 30 second intervals until it’s ready.

Nacho Cheese Dip is usually available at the cinema, but exactly which ingredients go into it? 

In America, to achieve that silky smooth texture of a nacho sauce, they often add a processed cheese called Velveeta to the recipe. However, this isn’t available to purchase in the UK, so we need to make our nacho cheese sauce without Velveeta. Thankfully, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s easily achievable. In addition, there’s no need to use burger cheese slices either, this recipe uses only natural cheese.

And if you want something to dip in, try these Nacho Chicken Bites!

Overhead view of the cinema style nacho cheese with a hand dipping in a nacho.

Equipment Needed

  • Saucepan: A medium-sized saucepan to heat and cook the cheese sauce.
  • Whisk or Spoon: A whisk or spoon to stir and combine the ingredients smoothly.
  • Grater: A cheese grater to grate the cheese if using a block of cheese.
  • Measuring Scales: Weighing Scales to accurately measure the ingredients.


A labelled photo of all the ingredients needed to make the recipe.
  • Flour and Butter – These two ingredients are combined over a low heat to create a roux. This gives the sauce a thick consistency and without this, the nacho cheese would be too runny.
  • Evaporated Milk and Full-Fat Milk – I use a combination of the two for the base of the cheese sauce. Evaporated milk will make your sauce a little more creamy.
  • Dijon Mustard and Cayenne Pepper – For that added depth or flavour and a little spice.
  • Cheddar, Monterey Jack Cheese and Red Leicester Cheese – All the cheese we need for an extra cheesy dip!

Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce

This homemade cheesy dip is full of flavour and much more tasty than regular store-bought cheese dip. You can be a little more rest assured knowing exactly what you are feeding to your children by avoiding cheeses that have been overly processed and contain more salt.

The red Leicester cheese also gives it that typical bright yellow colour that your associate with the cheese dip you get in the cinema.   

When it’s movie night, you can make the night feel extra special by serving this super simple cheese dip alongside a big bag of your favourite chips or crisps like Doritos!

Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make Cinema Style Nacho Cheese

Step 1: Preparing the Roux:

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  • Add the flour and whisk together to form a roux.
  • Stir the roux over low heat for about a minute.
A hand is tipping flour into melted butter in a saucepan.
A hand is using a whisk to mix flour and butter together to make a roux.

Step 2: Creating the Cheese Sauce:

  • Combine the milk and evaporated milk.
  • Slowly add the milk mixture to the roux while whisking continuously.
  • Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thick, without any lumps.
  • Stir in the mustard and pepper.
  • Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.
A hand is topping milk into a saucepan containing a roux to create a sauce.
A hand is using a whisk to mix milk with a roux.
A hand is tipping cayenne pepper into a saucepan containing white sauce.
A hand is tipping grated cheese into a saucepan containing a thick white sauce.

Step 3: Serving the Sauce:

  • Serve the cheese sauce immediately while it’s warm.
  • Alternatively, allow the sauce to cool and transfer it to an airtight container in the fridge for later use.
A hand is holding a whisk that is being lifted out of a cheese sauce inside a saucepan.

Keeping The Nacho Cheese Sauce Runny

This cheesy dip recipe is perfect for parties served with a range of things to dip. You can serve it with a big bowl of tortilla chips, vegetable sticks, breadsticks. To keep the cheese sauce runny, I would recommend serving it in a fondue pot or in heat proof bowls, served on a heating tray.


How do I store homemade nacho cheese?

You can store any leftover cheese you may have in the fridge. Place it in an airtight container and store for up to 2 days.

What cheeses work best for nacho cheese sauce?

As well as the cheese we have used in this recipe, other cheeses that work well in nacho cheese are the types that melt well. These include gruyere, white American cheese, pepper jack cheese, Mexicana cheese and provolone.

How do I keep my cinema nacho cheese from solidifying?

The trick is to keep it warm. Nacho cheese will solidify as it cools. Keeping it warm over a low heat will keep the sauce from becoming solid.

Can I freeze nacho cheese sauce?

Yes, this recipe can be frozen and gently reheated with a little extra milk when you want to use it. Just be aware that the texture may alter slightly upon defrosting.

A front view of the cheese sauce in a white bowl. There are nachos surrounding the bowl and a separate bowl of guacamole in the background.

Pro Tips and Guidance

  • Make it spicierThis nacho cheese sauce recipe is mild in flavour, but you can spice up your nacho cheese dip with the addition of jalapenos. Finely chop some jalapenos to your taste and mix into the cheese sauce. Alternatively, you can also increase the amount of cayenne pepper you add to your sauce, to suit your own taste or mix in some hot sauce. 
  • Serve it warm – This nacho cheese dip is best served warm. When your sauce gets cold, it will begin to solidify. You only need to reheat it to make it fluid again. Serve it in a fondue pot or on a heating tray if you want to prolong the sauces temperature.
  • Substitute the cheese – If you cannot find Monterey jack cheddar, you can substitute it for more regular cheddar instead. 
  • Alter the consistency – If you want a runnier nacho cheese sauce, simply add more milk to the recipe. When you want it thicker, reduce the amount of milk you add.
Nacho cheese dip in a bowl surrounded by nachos.

How To Serve Nacho Cheese Sauce

This homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe is pretty versatile and ready in under 10 minutes. And it isn’t just for dipping tortilla chips!

  • Pour it over some wedges or chips and create your own loaded fries.
  • Use it as a sauce for your burgers and wraps. Like this Nacho Burger!
  • Top chilli con carne with turkey mince with it.
  • Pour it Over Chicken.
  • Use it as a dip for flatbread.
  • Pour it Over broccoli or cauliflower and create a delicious side dish that will encourage the kids to eat their veggies.


  • Storage: Once prepared, allow the Nacho Cheese Sauce to cool completely before storing. Transfer any leftover nacho cheese sauce to an airtight container or jar.
  • Refrigeration: The cinema nacho cheese can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Simply cover the container tightly and place it in the fridge.
  • Freezing: Allow the nacho cheese sauce to cool completely before freezing. Then, transfer the sauce to a freezer-safe container or divide it into smaller portions for easier defrosting and portioning later on. Make sure to leave some headspace in the container as the sauce will expand when frozen. Seal the container tightly to prevent freezer burn and place it in the freezer. It will keep for up to 2 months.
  • Defrosting: Remove the container of frozen sauce from the freezer and transfer it to the fridge, allow it to defrost for several hours or overnight until fully thawed.
  • Reheating: To reheat the refrigerated Nacho Cheese Sauce, add a little more milk and gently warm it in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches the desired temperature. Be cautious not to overheat the sauce to prevent it from becoming grainy or separating. Alternatively, you can reheat individual servings in the microwave, using short bursts of heat and stirring in between until warmed.

Note: The texture of the nacho cheese sauce may slightly change upon reheating, but it can still be enjoyed as a delicious topping for your favourite nachos or other dishes.

Check Out These Other Dip Recipes

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Fresh Guacamole

A dip that pairs perfectly with nacho cheese and super easy to make.

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Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Like cheesy dips? Then you’ll love this Parmesan dip packed with mushrooms.

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Roasted Garlic and Herb Dip with Sour Cream

A mild, smoky dip that can be made with frozen-ahead roasted garlic.

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Overhead view of the cinema style nacho cheese with a hand dipping in a nacho.

Cinema Style Nacho Cheese Sauce

5 from 44 votes
If you’ve ever wondered how to make nacho cheese sauce, this recipe is perfect for you. 
Great for movie nights, you can bring that cinema experience a little closer to home with your own cinema style nacho cheese recipe. Using only natural cheeses, this super-quick, easy recipe is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
Print Recipe Pin Rate Save
Course: Appetizer, dip, sauce, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 249kcal


  • 25 g Butter
  • 20 g All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 50 g Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 30 g Red Leicester Cheese
  • 30 g Cheddar


  • In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
  • Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk until well combined, creating a paste known as a roux.
  • Stir the roux continuously over low heat for one minute.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the milk and evaporated milk. Slowly pour this mixture into the roux while whisking continuously until smooth and thick without any lumps.
  • Keep whisking until all the milk is incorporated.
  • Stir in the mustard and cayenne pepper.
  • Add the grated cheeses and stir until melted and well combined.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the nacho cheese sauce immediately while warm, or allow it to cool and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for later use.


Recipe Notes

  • Make it spicier: Add jalapenos or increase cayenne pepper for extra heat.
  • Serve it warm: Reheat to maintain a smooth consistency. Use a fondue pot or heating tray for prolonged warmth.
  • Substitute the cheese: Regular cheddar can be used instead of Monterey Jack cheddar.
  • Alter the consistency: Adjust thickness by adding more milk for a runnier sauce or reducing milk for a thicker consistency.
  • Storage: In the fridge for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. 

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 573IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 356mg | Iron: 1mg

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