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This fast and easy cheese sauce for broccoli completely transforms this cruciferous veggie, leaving my family always asking for more! It also works as a delicious cheese sauce for baked potatoes, pasta, or even chicken. Best of all, NO VELVEETA!
Why Make Homemade Cheese Sauce
Wow. Just wow. This real cheese sauce for broccoli is something I’ve been making almost every week for years. Let me make my case for why you should too.
- Made from all real food ingredients. That’s important to me, because when you read the ingredients in Velveeta cheese (the main ingredient of most quick “cheese” sauces), you’ll quickly realize that it’s filled with additives and preservatives (read: things our bodies don’t need or want).
- This homemade cheese sauce is super versatile and can be used for all kinds of dishes. Scroll down for lots of ideas!
- Believe it or not, leftovers of this cheese sauce stores really well in the fridge AND even in the freezer. I’ve tested it many times and was shocked that it rewarmed so well.
- It’s relatively cheap and fast to make this sauce, making it a valuable part of a nutritious weeknight dinner.
- Easy enough to memorize! Even my middle school daughter can make this sauce now.
- This recipe is very easy to double or triple for feeding more people!
Now you can see why I keep these ingredients on hand at all times and whip up this cheese sauce regularly for a weeknight dinner. Here’s what you’ll need…
- Flour – I prefer to use white whole wheat flour for more nutrition.
- Milk – I use 2% milk, but you can use whatever you have on hand. (Maybe not chocolate milk, k?)
- Cream cheese – This lends creaminess. I use full fat plain cream cheese. Low fat will work, but it just may not be as smooth of a sauce.
- Shredded cheddar cheese – Or you can use another shredded cheese to mix things up, like Colby jack, pepper jack (for a spicy twist!), mozzarella, or Monterey jack.
- Salt and pepper – I also sometimes add in a dash of garlic powder for a little more flavor, but that’s totally optional.
Done in just 7-8 minutes with a few basic ingredients, you’ll never make cheese sauce with Velveeta again. Trust me! Just follow these 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Make a Roux
A roux–a mixture of flour and butter that’s cooked together–is the foundation of this recipe and will add flavor and help thicken the cheese sauce.
To make the roux, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, until the mixture darkens a little, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 2: Stir in the Milk
Turn up heat to medium-high. Pour in the milk and continue whisking to break up any lumps. When the milk thickens to the consistency of thin gravy (approximately 3-5 minutes), turn off the heat and remove from the burner.
Step 3: Stir in the Cheeses and Seasoning
Stir in the cream cheese until fairly smooth. Then stir in the shredded cheddar, a little at a time, until well incorporated. Lastly, stir in the salt and pepper. If it’s still too thick, add more milk. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Step 4: Serve
Serve warm over steamed broccoli, pasta, baked potatoes, nachos, chicken, or whatever you want! Store cooled leftovers in the fridge or freezer for later.
What Else Can I Use This Broccoli Cheese Sauce For?
Aside from serving it over steamed broccoli, there are many other options!
Cheese Sauce for Baked Potatoes
I often serve this Homemade Cheese Sauce over baked potatoes topped with steamed broccoli, more shredded cheese, some bacon bits, chopped chives, and sour cream. It’s a cheap and satisfying meal the family will love! Just lay out all the topping options and let your crew build your baked potato however they like.
Cheese Sauce for Pasta
However, this sauce can go MUCH farther than just broccoli and potatoes! Another favorite way to serve it is over whole grain pasta on really busy nights. I boil the pasta and add in some broccoli during the last 2-3 minutes of the cook time. While those cook, I whip up the cheese sauce and BOOM…another cheap, weeknight meal is done. My kids cheer.
So Many Other Ways to Serve It!
You can also use the cheese sauce over rice, steamed cauliflower, baked chicken, and or even as a dipping sauce for Oven Fried Chicken Tenders. You can use it to jazz up everything from nachos to asparagus to leftovers! Bottom Line: Cheese Sauce for Broccoli makes just about anything more delicious, including those vegetables your picky eaters turn their noses up at.
How to Store Leftovers
I’ve stored leftover cheese sauce both in the fridge and freezer. In both cases, the sauce reheated just fine! I honestly couldn’t believe it worked. So, don’t toss the leftovers. Just stick them in a glass freezer container for next time.
If freezing, thaw in the fridge or using the defrost setting in the microwave, and then rewarm in the microwave or over low heat in a pan on the stovetop. You might have to stir in a little milk to thin it back out when you warm it up.
Dishes That Go Well with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce
Want some main dish options to go with this delicious side? Since this is already so easy to make, let’s keep the entree simple too. Try one of these quick meal ideas:
- Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub (or Grilled Pork Tenderloin)
- Oven Baked Chicken Tenders
- Pan-Seared, Oven-Finished Steak
- 5 Ingredient Mac and Cheese
Are you ready for your family to ask for more broccoli so they can put some cheese sauce on top? Then get going on this recipe…
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour (Recommended: white whole wheat flour)
- 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- Pinch of sea salt
- pinch of ground pepper (optional)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (sub: Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or Mozzarella)
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Make It Now:
- Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, until the mixture darkens a little, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Turn up heat to medium-high. Pour in the milk and continue whisking to break up any lumps. When the milk thickens to the consistency of thin gravy (approximately 3-5 minutes), turn off the heat and remove from the burner.
- Stir in the cream cheese until fairly smooth. Then stir in the shredded cheddar, a little at a time, until well incorporated. Lastly, stir in the salt and pepper. If it’s still too thick, add more milk. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve warm over steamed broccoli, pasta, baked potatoes, chicken, or whatever you want! Store cooled leftovers in the fridge or freezer for later (see tips below).
Freeze For Later: Freeze leftovers in an air-tight freezer container for up to 3 months.
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting on the microwave. Warm up in the microwave or over low heat in a pan on the stove, stirring occasionally. Add more milk to thin it out when rewarming, if needed.
Gluten-Free Version: You can use a 1:1 gluten-free all purpose flour in place of the whole wheat flour to make this gluten-free.
Can You Make This Dairy-Free? I haven’t tested this as a completely dairy-free sauce. I do know that plain almond milk will work in place of the dairy milk and plain cashew cream cheese (like KiteHill) would work in place of the cream cheese. But I don’t think the dairy-free shredded “cheese” would work well in place of the normal shredded cheese. However, if you have success with a dairy-free version, please let me know in in the comments below!
To Make This Into Alfredo Sauce: I often tweak this to use as an Alfredo sauce by stirring in 1 teaspoon of minced garlic during Step 1 (while making the roux). Then, I use grated Parmesan cheese in place of the shredded cheddar cheese. It’s delicious!