When I was a kid, the only way my mom could get me to eat broccoli or cauliflower was if it was smothered in her famous homemade cheese sauce. I’m not ashamed to say it’s a tactic I’ve used quite often on my own kids. This classic is loved by nearly everyone and never gets old!
It’s super easy, made with freshly grated cheddar, and it’s so much better than anything you can make with processed cheese. Want to know how to get your kids interested in something that’s good for them? Smother in ketchup of cheese!
How do you make cheese sauce smooth?
Always use freshly grated cheese from the block when you can. While it will work in a pinch, pre-shredded cheese is coated with additives and won’t melt as smoothly. Plus, fresh just tastes better.
Remove the pan from the heat before adding the cheese sauce, and let it cool for a few minutes. Boiling hot white sauce will cause the cheese to separate and become grainy.
Toss the cheese in a little cornstarch to reduce clumping.
Add the cheese in a smaller batch and stir well with each addition.
Add cream cheese to your sauce – this is how I have been making cheese sauce for years and it’s smooth and creamy every time.
Whisk, whisk, whisk! Keeping your sauce moving helps with consistency.
Tips for Making Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
Try to cut the broccoli all the same size for even cooking.
Steam or boil the broccoli until tender-crisp so it still has a bit of bit to it.
To make the cheese sauce, start with a roux of melted butter and flour, then add milk. I prefer full-fat milk over nonfat for a richer sauce. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, taking care not to overheat and scald the milk. The key to a great sauce is to constantly stir so it won’t burn.
The sauce is thick is enough is when it coats the back of a spoon. Time to add the cheese!
Remove the sauce from the heat before adding the cheese and whisk it really well.
Adding cream cheese has been a game changer for me. It helps to slightly cool the sauce and makes it more creamy and rich.
Substitute other cheeses, like Monterey Jack or even Pepper Jack.
Storage: Broccoli with cheese sauce is best served immediately. While you can refrigerate and reheat this recipe, the sauce may be grainy and not as delicious. If the cheese sauce is stored in a separate container, it will last in the refrigerator for a few days.
How to Reheat Cheese Sauce: Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, gradually and stirring often, adding a splash of milk or cream to help keep it from separating.
Freezing: I would not recommend freezing this cheese sauce.
Heat water to boiling in a deep skillet or saute pan with a lid over medium heat. Add broccoli florets and cover to steam for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until completely combined, then cook, whisking often, until golden; 2-3 minutes.
Pour in milk and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in cream cheese and ground mustard.
Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes before stirring in shredded cheddar. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a little bit of warm milk until the right consistency is reached.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.