5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

4.55 from 338 votes

The easiest way to make homemade nacho cheese! This recipe is so simple and comes together in just 5 minutes!

dipping a chip into nacho cheese sauce
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This is the best easy nacho cheese!

This 5 minute nacho cheese sauce is one of my favorite things to make for Mexican night!

All you need is heavy cream, cheese, and pantry ingredients to make this simple delicious cheese sauce.

Ideal when served with tortilla chips, over nachos, on tacos, quesadillas, mexican themed casseroles, you name it!

nacho cheese sauce with tortilla chips

Nacho Cheese Sauce Ingredients

  • heavy cream
  • colby jack cheese
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • cornstarch
ingredients needed to make nacho cheese

How to make nacho cheese sauce

Step 1: add the heavy cream to a pan and warm it to medium heat, but do not boil.

Step 2: Once your heavy cream is warm, add the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cornstarch, and freshly grated colby jack cheese.

Stir or whisk the cheese sauce often for three to five minutes, until thick. The longer you stir over low to medium heat, the thicker it becomes.

Using Fresh Grated Cheese

Pre shredded cheese is not the way to go for this recipe, as fresh just tastes so much better and makes a big difference in the quality of the nacho cheese sauce. 

For a thicker sauce, just leave it on the heat a little longer, watching and stirring so that it doesn’t burn.

dipping a chip into nacho cheese sauce

This recipe is similar to my  cheese sauce for broccoli, but made with colby jack cheese and mexican spices to create a nacho cheese flavor.

 How Do You Make a Quick Cheese Sauce? 

The answer is simply: cornstarch. By using this as a thickener, you spend much less time and the taste is just as good!

Once I realized the cornstarch trick, I make all of my quick cheese sauce recipes this way! Cornstarch is now a time saving staple in my home. You can’t taste it, and it makes dinner prep so much easier.

pouring nacho cheese sauce over chips

Once we first made this recipe, I had to make it three times in one week because I just could not get enough of it! The homemade nacho cheese just takes nacho night to the next level.

From easy dinners to party appetizers, you really can’t go wrong with a batch of this cheesy goodness!

5 minute nacho cheese sauce

What to eat with nacho cheese sauce

  • nachos
  • burrito bowls
  • quesadillas
  • tacos
  • burritos
  • stuffed peppers
  • roasted veggies
  • enchiladas
nacho cheese sauce in a bowl topped with jalapeno slices

What is the best cheese for nacho cheese sauce

I find colby jack my favorite, but this sauce would also be delicious with monterey jack cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, or pepper jack cheese.

nacho cheese sauce in a bowl topped with jalapeno slices

Nacho Cheese FAQs

Can I use store bought pre shredded cheese?

We do not recommend this as freshly grated cheese will melt better and result in a smoother sauce.

How do I store leftover nacho cheese sauce?

Leftover nacho cheese sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers in a sauce pan or in the microwave until heated through.

dipping a chip into nacho cheese sauce

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dipping a chip into nacho cheese sauce
4.55 from 338 votes

5 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce

By: Joy Shull
This easy nacho cheese sauce recipe is made in just 5 minutes!
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 4 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups colby jack cheese, freshly grated
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and add the heavy cream
  • Once the heavy cream begins to get warm, add the freshly grated colby jack cheese, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and corn starch
  • Whisk until thick and creamy (around 5 minutes or less). Stir constantly to avoid burning
  • Serve the nacho cheese with chips, nachos, tacos, quesadillas, or with any mexican themed dish!



Calories: 314kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 87mg, Sodium: 278mg, Potassium: 99mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1086IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 328mg, Iron: 0.4mg
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the best easy nacho cheese

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Recipe Rating


  1. Omg… This recipe was GREAT! I had everything but the chili powder so I substituted it with smoked Paprika and used Gouda cheese… Honey let me tell you, it came out amazing, this is the best simple recipe I’ve come across for awhile and I’m one to search and search until I find one I want to stick to, this is IT!!

    Thank you so much ❤️❤️

  2. I made this as written but with sharp cheddar. Wow, I’m never gonna stress about making a queso roux on a weeknight again. Perfect for when you need to throw together nachos with a couple of pantry staples. Thank you!

  3. My kids loved this cheese sauce, it was so much better than the ones that have a butter and flour base. We used the sauce for nacho night but I’m sure there are plenty of other things I can use this for.

  4. This was delicious! The spices were perfect- great flavor and texture. I added was some jalapeño juice from a jar in the fridge for some extra spice.
    This will be my new go to recipe, thank you!

    1. How much will this make? We are planning a navho bar Grad party and I want to make sure I have enough for about 150 people. Looks delicious!