A mac and cheese style sauce that takes 5 minutes to make. This cheesy deliciousness is made infinitely better with the addition of fresh thyme and crisp salty bacon.
Hello! I am writing up the recipe for this insanely easy and insanely delicious sauce! I am a total sucker for a mac and cheese style sauce, case in point my nduja mac and cheese! Can you really go wrong with simple white cheese sauce? I think the possibilities are endless, you could add anything you want in there, just look in the fridge, That is what I did and I happened to have some streaky bacon and fresh thyme. It ended up being a match made in heaven!
BUTTER - Unsalted or salted is fine here as it is such a small amount.
FLOUR - Any plain white flour will work, I haven't tested this with a gluten free flour so let me know if you try it!
MILK - I use full fat cows milk. I haven't tried it with any alternatives.
CHEESE - One of the most common questions I got asked on instagram was what kind of cheese I used! I hadn't really planned this out so I just used a basic supermarket cheddar plus some parmesan. Use anything you like the taste of.
BACON - I use streaky bacon and anything with a smokey flavour is great. It's fried in butter until super crisp.
THYME - Do try and use fresh and not dried, it brings so much flavour and adds some much needed freshness. You could use rosemary if you preferred.
What pasta shape should I use?
The great thing about a cheese sauce like this is it will work with anything!! Because the sauce is so easy how about making some pasta from scratch?! You could try my homemade orecchiette, which is what I chose. Another simple shape to try would be my hand rolled gnocchi sardi. Alternatively any dried shape will work perfectly.
Steps for the perfect cheese sauce every time!
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on a medium - high heat then add the flour.
- Whisk it quite vigorously, I really like using a flat whisk for sauces like this.
- Turn the heat down to medium - low and add the milk in a slow steady stream while whisking the whole time.
- Whisk vigorously making sure to get into all the corners and edges of the pan so all the flour/butter paste is incorporated.
- Let it gently bubble for a couple of minutes until it has thickened slightly and would coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add your cheese in three lots, making sure it has melted and incorporated into the sauce before adding the next lot.
- You can make it ahead and put a layer of cling film right over the actual sauce to stop a skin forming.
Why pasta water is your best friend!
You'll hear me harp on about the magic that is pasta water in 99% of my recipes. It really is a key ingredient in every sauce I make. The starch left behind in the water acts as a thickening agent and helps sauces cling to the pasta. I couldn't make a sauce without it. I never EVER drain my pasta in a colander, I always transfer it directly to the sauce using a spider strainer. That way the pasta pot full of water is left there for you to ladle in as you need. if you have seen my reels on instagram you'll notice my sauces are SAUCY. Pasta soaks up liquid so quickly so I add enough pasta water to make it quite liquidy. By the time I serve into bowls and take to the table it hasn't dried up. You'll get to know what the right consistency is with some practice, you can't go wrong though I promise!
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!
Want some other sauces to try?
Making recipes for delicious and easy pasta sauces is my true passion! If you want to learn how I make my butter sauces, check out my guide to the best butter sauces. If you know me well you know I am cacio e pepe obsessed and I have the basic recipe or my new fave cacio e pepe with olives and basil.Print