It’s nice to be able to make your own homemade cheese sauce that can go with pasta or many other types of dishes. Some people make cheese sauces that are meant to be used as dips and others make them as a sauce that accompanies a large meal.
The problem is that there are occasionally issues where the cheese sauce will come out a bit thinner than you would like it to.
What can you do to alleviate a problem such as having your cheese sauce be too thin? Well, perhaps the most practical idea is to try to salvage it by thickening your cheese sauce using a reliable method.
There are a few things that you can try when you need to thicken your cheese sauce and it’ll be good to learn about your options.
Keep reading to get the information about several ways that you can thicken cheese sauce. You’ll gain a greater understanding of these methods and you won’t feel the need to panic the next time your cheese sauce isn’t thickening up properly.
So long as you know what to do, it’s going to be possible to handle this issue swiftly.
1 – Use a Starch Thickener
Using a starch thickener is going to be the most common way to go about thickening your cheese sauce.
There are two types of starch thickeners that people commonly use to thicken sauces. You can go with the traditional corn starch option or you can use something such as flour.
It’s good to know that these options can work well because most people keep corn starch and flour in their pantries. If you have some of this around and you need to try to thicken your cheese sauce, then you’re in luck.
The process of using cornstarch or flour to thicken the sauce isn’t overly complex either.
You just want to use one or two teaspoons of cornstarch or flour for your cheese sauce. Along with this, you’ll also want to add about half a cup of water to the mix.
You need to whisk the cornstarch or flour together with cold water in a small bowl so that it becomes a slurry.
Once this slurry has been mixed up, you’re going to need to mix it into your cheese sauce one teaspoon at a time. Don’t try to rush the process or this might not turn out right.
Allow your sauce to simmer for about five minutes and you should be able to avoid any excess flour or cornstarch taste.
Take the time to check the thickness of your cheese sauce at this point to see if it is what you want it to be. If you still think it is a bit thin, then you could try to add just a bit more cornstarch or flour-based slurry.
For the most part, this method is simple and reliable.
2 – Thickening Your Cheese Sauce by Simmering Only
Another good way to thicken your cheese sauce is to simply simmer it. All you need to do is take your sauce and pour it into a saucepan.
You want to adjust the heat on your stovetop so that it is set to simmer. Stir your cheese sauce consistently as it simmers so that extra liquid gets evaporated.
What this is doing is thickening up your sauce by getting rid of this extra liquid. You’re taking out the thin nature of the sauce and leaving yourself with a much thicker cheese sauce.
You don’t have to add extra ingredients with this method and it’s often the first thing that chefs will try when a cheese sauce comes out a bit too thin.
There are some things to note about using this simmering method, though. You don’t want to let the sauce boil on high heat because this can cause your dairy to separate. That could leave you with a sauce that has the wrong texture and you’ll probably want to throw the sauce out at that point.
It’s also very easy for a cheese sauce like this to burn when you’re trying to simmer it. This means that you need to keep a close eye on your cheese sauce to avoid burning it.
Also, regular stirring during the simmering process is necessary to protect it.
3 – Using Egg Yolk as a Thickening Agent
Egg yolk can also be a good thickening agent if you don’t have cornstarch or flour available to you.
Some chefs even prefer using egg yolk to thicken cheese sauces. The method for doing this is really similar to using the cornstarch and flour option.
You basically just take an egg yolk and you whisk it in a bowl before moving forward. Once you’re done thoroughly whisking the egg yolk, you’re going to need to slowly add egg yolk to the cheese sauce. You want to do this until you have around a cup of liquid to work with.
Keep whisking your egg yolk into the cheese sauce as gently as you can. You want to use low heat for this and all of this should be done in a saucepan.
Your stirring should be frequent during this time and you want to keep stirring until the cheese sauce has your desired thickness and texture.
Note that you won’t necessarily be using an entire egg yolk to get this thickening process completed. Sometimes pouring just a little bit of the egg yolk into your cheese sauce is going to be enough to accomplish what you’re trying to do.
Adding too much is going to be counterproductive and you really need to use your best judgment while doing this.
4 – Thickening Your Cheese Sauce by Using Cheese
Cheese can actually make for a good thickening ingredient as well.
If you’d like to add something flavorful to your cheese sauce that can make it even creamier, then going with the cheese option is probably going to be ideal. You can use either shredded cheese or diced cheese to pull this off.
Pour your currently thin cheese sauce into a saucepan and then place it over low heat on your stovetop.
You’re going to want to add shredded cheese or diced cheese to your cheese sauce mix now. You just add the cheese in while you constantly stir to try to thicken things up.
The only potential issue to look out for when using this method is that you could make your cheese sauce too thick. Going from a thin sauce to an overly thick sauce could also be problematic for obvious reasons.
Thankfully, you can take some of the thickness out by adding in one tablespoon of milk if necessary.
You should be able to get the right thickness level for your cheese sauce if you use cheese like this. Overall, it even winds up adding to the overall flavor and creaminess.
If you want to deal with your thin cheese sauce reliably, then try this method out and you’ll be happy with the results.
5 – Try to Add a New Bechamel Sauce
You probably already know that your cheese sauce makes use of bechamel sauce as a base.
You can make up some more bechamel sauce and then add it to your thin cheese sauce to thicken things up. In case you don’t remember, bechamel sauce is made using flour, nutmeg, bay leaf, butter, onion, and milk.
You start this method by combining your bay leaf, grated nutmeg, onion, and milk in a saucepan. Next, you’re going to want to simmer this in a saucepan until it comes to a boil. Take the pan off of your heat source and then cover it for 15 minutes.
It’s now necessary to strain this mixture to get rid of excess bay leaf and onions. Do a good job straining things so that you can make a sauce with good consistency.
Wipe your pan until it is clean and then start melting butter using medium heat on your stovetop.
Now it is time to add flour to the pan and cook it for about one minute. Keep stirring while you form your roux and you will be using this to thicken your cheese sauce. You will gradually be adding your strained mixture while stirring it with a whisk.
When everything has been added together, you’ll be able to start adding your new bechamel sauce to the cheese sauce. You have to simmer this until things have been combined properly.
Check to see if you have reached the desired level of thickness while also being careful not to burn your cheese sauce.
Make Sure You’re Following Your Recipe Correctly
Of course, one common reason why people end up with thin cheese sauce is that they fail to follow the recipe that they have properly. You might have missed out on an ingredient or you could have added too little of something originally.
It might be worthwhile to go back to your recipe and check things out to see if you went wrong somewhere.
You can fix things even when you do make small mistakes while making your cheese sauce. It’s just good to pay attention to your recipe to ensure that you are doing things right.
If you do things right the first time, then you shouldn’t have too many instances of thin cheese sauce to deal with.
Often, people will discover that they have been trying to rush things and miss a simple step. Slow things down and try to follow your cheese sauce recipe to a tee to get good results.
If you can commit to taking things one step at a time instead of getting ahead of yourself, then you’re going to have an easier time.
Cheese Sauce Tips
There are also some good cheese sauce tips that can help your cheese sauce to turn out better each time.
Having your sauce turn out too thin is a common problem, but another common issue is having your sauce turn out chunky. You definitely don’t want your cheese to curdle on you while you’re making your sauce because it isn’t going to be that good this way.
To get smooth cheese sauce that has the right thickness, you’re going to want to pay attention to making your roux. You need to add your cheese at the right time so that you don’t get lumps in your sauce. Grated cheese is actually much easier to add in than cubed cheese.
If you’re using cubed cheese, then you could run the risk of overcooking your sauce while you’re trying to add the cheese in. This doesn’t mean that cubed cheese can’t be used or that you can’t do it perfectly, but it is something to watch out for.
Remove the sauce from the heat source while you’re adding your cheese to make things easier and to avoid the risk of making mistakes.
You really only need your cheese to be hot enough to melt your cheese and it doesn’t have to remain on the heat source during this process. As long as you keep this in mind, you shouldn’t run into lumpy sauce issues or cheese curdling problems.
If you’ve ever had this problem in addition to having to deal with thin sauce, then you’ll be glad to know how to keep it from happening again.
Make the Best Cheese Sauce That You Can
Now that you have more information, it should be much easier to make the cheese sauce that you have been craving. You have been given a lot of different options for thickening your cheese sauce and all of them work well.
Some people might gravitate toward using cornstarch as a thickening agent while others might really like using egg yolk. Just try out whatever option sounds the most appealing to you. You’ll certainly be able to get things working much better for yourself and your cheese sauce will be tasty.
No one has to accept thin and unsatisfying cheese sauce when they know how to deal with things properly and you’re going to be ready to make things right the next time your cheese sauce comes out a bit too thin.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.