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8 Simple Methods to Thicken Cheese Sauce

8 Simple Methods to Thicken Cheese Sauce

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Making your own cheese sauce at home yields one of the most versatile ingredients out there.

You can pair cheese sauce with pasta, casseroles, sandwiches, and even pastries. You can also use it as a dip or a base for a dip alongside nachos, veggies, and other similar snacks.

While you can do so much with cheese sauce, its practicality is cut short if it comes out on the thinner side.

Luckily, there are ways you can salvage a too-thin cheese sauce, and I’m here to share them with you!

Keep reading to discover eight reliable methods for thickening cheese sauce that’ll help you get the perfect consistency every time! 

1 – Use a Starch Thickener

Scoop Of Cornstarch

Using a starch thickener is the most common way to go about thickening your cheese sauce.

There are two types of starch thickeners that people typically use to thicken sauces: cornstarch or flour.

Both these options are convenient as most people keep cornstarch and flour in their pantries. If you have some lying around and you need to thicken your cheese sauce, then you’re in luck.

Using cornstarch or flour to thicken the sauce isn’t too complicated either, here’s how:

  • Add one or two teaspoons of cornstarch or flour and about half a cup of cold water to a bowl.
  • Whisk until it becomes a slurry.
  • Once this slurry has been mixed up, stir it into your cheese sauce one teaspoon at a time. Don’t try to rush the process or it might go wrong.
  • Allow your sauce to simmer for about five minutes and you shouldn’t have to deal with any lingering flour or cornstarch taste.

Check the thickness of your cheese sauce at this point to see if it is what you want it to be. If it’s still not as thick as you prefer, then you could add just a bit more cornstarch or flour-based slurry.

2 – Thickening Your Cheese Sauce by Simmering Only

Stirring Simmering Pot On Stove

Another hassle-free way to thicken your cheese sauce is to let it simmer. 

  • Take your sauce and pour it into a saucepan.
  • Adjust the heat on your stovetop so it’s set to simmer.
  • Stir your cheese sauce consistently as it simmers to evaporate the extra liquid and thicken the sauce.

You don’t need to add other ingredients with this method, and it’s often the first solution that chefs will try when a cheese sauce comes out too thin.

However, there are some things to note about using this simmering method.

Don’t let the sauce boil on high heat because this can cause your dairy to separate, ruining the texture of your sauce.

You should also keep a close eye on your cheese sauce to avoid burning it. Regular stirring during the simmering process helps to protect it as well.

3 – Using Egg Yolk as a Thickening Agent

Small Bowl Of Egg Yolks

Egg yolk can also be a good thickening agent if you don’t have cornstarch or flour on hand. Some chefs even prefer this method.

The steps for this process are similar to using the cornstarch and flour option.

Basically, you take an egg yolk and whisk it in a bowl. Once the egg yolk is thoroughly whisked, slowly add it to the cheese sauce in a saucepan.

Keep whisking the egg yolk into the cheese sauce as gently as you can, and don’t forget to lower the heat for the entire process.

Continue to stir until the cheese sauce has reached your desired thickness.

Note that you won’t necessarily be using an entire egg yolk to thicken your sauce. Sometimes pouring just a bit of the egg yolk into your cheese sauce is enough to achieve the consistency you want.

Adding too much egg yolk would be counterproductive, so exercise your best judgment while doing this.

4 – Thickening Your Cheese Sauce by Using Cheese

Shredded Cheese On Cutting Board

The main ingredient of cheese sauce can also make for an effective thickening ingredient as well. Cheese is also a great option for introducing extra flavor to your cheese sauce and making it even creamier.

You can use either shredded cheese or diced cheese to pull this off. Pour your currently thin cheese sauce into a saucepan and place it over low heat on your stovetop.

While constantly stirring, add the shredded cheese or diced cheese to the cheese sauce. It should thicken up in a few minutes.

The only potential issue to look out for with this method is that you could make your cheese sauce too thick. If necessary, you can thin the sauce out by adding one tablespoon of milk.

5 – Try to Add a New Bechamel Sauce

Pot Of Bechamel Sauce

Most cheese sauce recipes use bechamel sauce as a base. As such, you can whip up some more bechamel sauce and add it to your thin cheese sauce to thicken it up.

In case you don’t remember, you can make bechamel sauce from flour, nutmeg, bay leaf, butter, onion, and milk as follows:

  • Combine the bay leaf, grated nutmeg, onion, and milk in a saucepan.
  • Next, let this mixture simmer until it comes to a boil.
  • Take the pan off of your heat source and cover it for 15 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture to remove the bay leaf and onion bits. This is necessary for achieving proper cheese sauce consistency.
  • Wipe your saucepan clean and then melt some butter over medium heat on your stovetop.
  • Add flour to the saucepan and cook it for about one minute. Keep stirring to form the roux.
  • Gradually add the strained mixture to the roux while stirring with a whisk.

Now that your bechamel sauce is ready, add it to the thin cheese sauce. Combine them well and allow the new cheese sauce.

Check to see if you’ve reached the desired level of thickness. Be careful not to simmer the mixture for too long to avoid burning your cheese sauce.

6 – Thickening Your Cheese Sauce by Adding Gelatin

Although it’s effective, not many people try using gelatin as a thickening ingredient for cheese sauce. I’m encouraging you to give it a go if starch or extra cheese aren’t available.

Start by adding gelatin to cold water to make it bloom. There should be instructions on the box that specify the proper amount to mix.

The next step is to heat the gelatin mixture gently. Once it fully dissolves, whisk it gradually into your thin cheese sauce.

Keep stirring and you’ll notice the gelatin thickening up the sauce and introducing a rich, velvety texture.

Be careful not to add too much gelatin to keep the cheese sauce from turning into jello!

7 – Incorporating a Vegetable Puree for Thicker Cheese Sauce 

This method doesn’t just create a thicker body for your cheese sauce, but it also boosts its nutritional value. Adding a vegetable puree to thin cheese sauce is also a nice way to elevate its flavor.

You can use potatoes, squash, carrots, or cauliflower. Just crush the veggie into a smooth paste and whisk it into the cheese sauce. Combine it thoroughly and you’ll see the consistency becoming richer and thicker.

8 – Double Sour Cream, Yogurt, or Mustard as a Thickening Agent

Besides starch, eggs, veggies, cheese, and gelatin, you can thicken your cheese sauce by adding sour cream, yogurt, or even mustard.

Any of these three ingredients is easy to work with for this purpose, and the results will surely impress you.

You’ll simply mix about one tablespoon at a time of sour cream, yogurt, or mustard into the melted cheese sauce. You can also use a combination of two or all of them.

The texture of the sauce will soon turn thicker and creamier. The acidity of these ingredients also helps break up any cheese lumps for a smoother sauce.

Not to mention, your cheese sauce will receive a kick of flavor that might just become one of your favorites!

Make Sure You’re Following Your Recipe Correctly

Man Checking A Recipe

Besides the tips above, I have to stress this particular point.

One of the most common reasons people end up with thin cheese sauce is that they fail to accurately follow the recipe. You might have missed out on an ingredient or you could have added too little or too much of another.

It might be worthwhile to go back to your recipe and check the measurements/directions to see if you went wrong somewhere.

You can fix small mistakes while making your cheese sauce. But if you do things right the first time, you shouldn’t have too many instances of thin cheese sauce to deal with.

Don’t rush the process and take the recipe one step at a time instead of getting ahead of yourself. This will guarantee you an easier time.

Cheese Sauce Tips

Here are some extra cheese sauce tips to help you perfect its consistency every time.

While cheese sauce turning out too thin is a common problem, another repeated issue is having your sauce turn out chunky. 

You definitely don’t want your cheese to curdle on you. A lumpy cheese sauce is not appetizing, to say the least!

To get smooth cheese sauce with proper thickness, pay attention when making your roux.

Add the cheese at the right time to avoid creating lumps in the sauce. To this end, grated cheese is much easier to incorporate than cubed cheese.

If you’re using cubed cheese, you’re running the risk of overcooking the sauce while adding in the cheese.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use cubed cheese or that it’ll come out burnt no matter what, but it’s something to watch out for.

Also, remove the sauce from the heat source while you’re adding your cheese. It’s easier this way and there’s no risk of overcooking. 

You only need your base sauce to be hot enough to melt your cheese, so you don’t need to keep it over the heat in this step.

As long as you keep these pointers in mind, you shouldn’t need to worry about lumpy sauce or cheese curdling problems.

Final Thoughts: Make the Best Cheese Sauce That You Can

Now that you’ve gone through all my tips and tricks, it should be much easier to make the cheese sauce of your dreams!

You have various solutions for thickening your cheese sauce and all of them work well. It may take some experimenting on your part to decide on a favorite method.

Some people 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 and it should give you good results the next time your cheese sauce comes out a bit too thin.

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David F. K. Ens

Thursday 5th of May 2022

is there an ingredient like citric acid compound that will thicken the sauce to a homogenized thickness I know it is a 2 part compound that has citric acid and another ingredient of which I can't remember