Nothing beats a smooth, creamy, and cheesy cheese sauce. Find out today how why cheese sauce gets gritty and how to prevent it!
While I get that there are 5 food groups, in my world there are 8. Sure we have dairy, fruit, grain, lean meats and proteins, veggies but for me I also like to consider pizza, bacon and cheese as their own separate food groups. Oh sure I know they technically fall under the other 5 but these other 3 play such a high role in my life that they deserve their own group. In my household, and specifically my fridge, I have an entire cheese drawer with nothing but cheeses in it. At any given point in time there are at least 8 different varieties of cheeses and no, I’m not talking about the individually sliced stuff. And yes I do like Velveeta by the way. That stuff is the bomb for a creamy cheese sauce!
But have you ever made (or had) a mac ‘n cheese that wasn’t creamy or smooth? Instead if was grainy or gritty? Kind of gross, huh? So there are a few reasons why this happens and what you want to avoid.
- Use real cheese and not cheese food (i.e, the individually wrapped slices). If those say they are real cheese without a million additives then you’re OK.
- Velveeta – so no, technically it’s not ‘real cheese” as it’s made with whey protein concentrate, milk protein and other additives to create a pasteurized cheese product. Again if you want to use I won’t judge you.
- Grate your cheese instead of buying pre-grated cheese. Those cheese are packaged with additives (powders). Those powders hamper your cheese melting/smoothness.
- When you make your roux (butter/flour) then adding your milk (béchamel) you must add your cheese to the heated mixture slowly. *NOTE! Do NOT add the cheese to the mixture if it’s boiling/bubbling. Adding cheese to a bubbling mixture will cause the cheese to break down. The emulsifiers and coagulants break down when heated thus causing a gritty texture.
- Remove the hot béchamel from the heat. I tend to remove the pan from the heat completely when adding the cheese to prevent it from getting too hot and curdling/breaking.
- Add the cheese slowly – if your recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded cheese add in a little bit at a time. Add some, stir til melted and add more. Continue to add and stir.