Why This Recipe?
This Wisconsin Cheese Sauce recipes has a very deep cheese flavor, and nice subtle background notes. It is great on it’s own or can be used as the base for other recipes such as Beer Cheese Soup, Queso dip, Buffalo Mac and Cheese, or countless other variations.
I used this Wisconsin Cheese Sauce recipe for the Luxury Suites at Lambeau Field. It is a very gooey and smooth sauce that holds up well. This recipe will not get gritty like a roux thickened béchamel.
Before You Start Cooking
Worth Noting about making and using Wisconsin Cheese Sauce…
- When making the sauce, having two pots available is helpful. If you only have one large pot, but have medium size sauce pot available start sweating the vegetables and steeping them in milk in the smaller pot. Also helpful in #3 on this list occurs.
- You can skip the first steps with the vegetables, you will still get a nice quality sauce, it will just have less depth of flavor. This might be beneficial if you want a more neutral flavor. For example if you plan on using it as part of another recipe, such as Queso Dip, mix one part your favorite salsa and one part cheese sauce.
- During the cook, if you notice you have some scorching on the bottom of you pot. The best thing you can do is transfer the sauce into another pot, rather than trying to work with the scorched pot. If you do this quickly you can save your sauce. Make sure you taste it and you do not have a burnt flavor. There is not much you can do but start over if it tastes burnt. If you are limited on pots, transfer to a mixing bowl, clean your pot, then continue.
- If you own an immersion blender it can be used towards the end to reduce the amount of whisk stirring necessary. I still prefer the whisk for the first few batches of cheese, but often finish the sauce with a blender, especially in a larger batch.
- If you are not using the Wisconsin Cheese Sauce immediately, the best way to cool is in an ice bath. Place your pot or whatever storage vessel you plan to use in a sink or larger container filled with ice water. Metal will transfer the heat much quicker than plastic, so I prefer to just use my pot.
- Thick sauces and soups cool slowly. One reason is as they cool, they form an insulating layer on the outside that prevents the center from cooling. To prevent this, occasionally stir your sauce as it cools to redistribute the heat.
- When reheating this sauce for use you have a few options. For smaller batches a microwave works fine, just heat it in 30 second intervals stirring in between cycles. For a larger batch you can heat directly on the stove over low heat, just be sure to stir occasionally and watch for scorching. A worry free and scorch free way to reheat a larger batch is in a double boiler. Place your sauce in a Bain Marie or smaller pot inside a larger pot. Place this over high heat with the water level in the larger pot three quarters the height of the Bain Marie. Then stir occasionally. It will take longer, but you will not scorch.
Kitchen Tools Needed
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Watch my demonstration
Do you want to read a story about Wisconsin Cheese Sauce?
I’ve made thousands of gallons of this gooey golden concoction. Seriously, thousands. At one point I got Kemp’s to start putting heavy cream into 5 gallon bags for Lambeau Field, because I tired of making cooks spend an entire shift opening quart containers. Every home game we could easily go through 300 gallons.
But the first time I made Wisconsin Cheese Sauce while wearing chef whites, might be my most memorable. I was in Culinary school in the Napa Valley and we were cooking Regional American Cuisines. While looking over the Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup recipe as a class, I blurted out the flaws I saw in it having just moved West from Wisconsin for the second time in my life. Only to be instructed by the instructor how naïve I was, and that my edits sounded revolting. My classmates chimed in and ridiculed me.
But I had tried the Culinary Institute of America Recipe and it was grainy, too bitter, and nothing like the tavern style I was accustomed to. So I decided to do something bold. (Okay so beer cheese soup and cheese sauce aren’t the same dish. I would consider them Irish twins. The story still applies.)
The next day I snuck Miller High Life and Velveeta into the kitchen. I prepared my version alongside my classmates doing the School Recipe. Then I sat back as our instructor evaluated all of our work.
There was a clear front runner of the 16 bowls presented. One that he couldn’t understand how, after all the times he had taught the course, was so exceptional. He needed to know the techniques used.
That’s when I pulled out a brown paper bag with my contraband ingredients. If I only had a camera to capture the reaction.
Real good food doesn’t have to be pretentious, just well executed. I’m certainly not big on overly processed ingredients, but this is a situation where a little science can assist traditional cooking. This recipe is gooey, smooth, and has always been well received. I find it ironic that I have had to make variations of this sauce at every cooking job I have had. It is delicious and reliable though.
Q & A | Wisconsin Cheese Sauce
How long will this Cheese Sauce last under refrigeration?
Shelf life will vary based on the freshness of your ingredients. I would suggest looking at the expiration date of the cream and milk that you are using, and using the lesser of the two for your best by date.
Can I freeze Wisconsin Cheese Sauce?
Yes, you can freeze this cheese sauce for up to three months in an air tight container.
Will this Cheese Sauce work as a dip?
Yes it will. Depending on the flavor profile you are looking for you may want to add some additional hot sauce or equal parts salsa.