Traditional recipes

Four cheese sauce recipe

Four cheese sauce recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish
  • Sauce
  • White sauce

This is an indulgently creamy four cheese sauce that's perfect with gnocchi or penne.

218 people made this

IngredientsServes: 3

  • 2 (227ml) pots double cream
  • 100g (4 oz) butter
  • 50g (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 50g (2 oz) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 50g (2 oz) grated Provolone cheese
  • 50g (2 oz) grated Pecorino cheese

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:10min ›Ready in:20min

  1. In a medium saucepan combine cream and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter melts. Gradually stir in cheeses. Reduce heat to low, and continue to stir just until all cheese is melted.
  2. Serve immediately, sauce will thicken upon standing.


If you can't find Provolone, a cheese from southern Italy, use any semi-hard cheese you prefer - Cheddar would do just fine.

Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.

Recently viewed

Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(157)

Reviews in English (115)


Used different ingredients.This was an excellent sauce! The 4 cheeses really complement each other nicely. I added some oregano, tarragon, parsley, garlic and black pepper for some extra flavour. It is definitely worth the try to make, and it was easy too!-21 Jul 2008

Very rich, but very, very nice. A true luxury cheese sauce when made with the best available cheeses. This will probably be a major contributor to my inevitable heart attack, and that's a good thing.-14 Jan 2013


I made this dish for a few friends and they all loved it! Also, it was easy to make coming from a beginner cook!-21 Jul 2008

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (12 ounce) package macaroni
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring (Optional)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • ⅓ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook for 3 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic, and continue cooking until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 2 minutes more. Slowly stir in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.

Stir in the half-and-half and milk, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in mustard powder and liquid smoke simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, along with the cream cheese, Swiss, Monterey Jack, and Cheddar cheeses stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the drained macaroni noodles. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs over the macaroni

Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Garlic Shrimp Alfredo in a Creamy Four Cheese Pasta Sauce

Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Pasta – a very simple dinner dish that will literally take only 35 minutes to make! This delicious, homemade, very creamy white cheese Italian pasta sauce includes the four-cheese blend: Mozzarella, White Cheddar, Provolone, Asiago cheeses.

For this easy Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Pasta I used small cooked shrimp, and I just reheated it gently in the skillet to use for this recipe. You can use raw shrimp, too. Make sure you cook it until it is cooked just right in step 1.

I love quick and easy recipes – they make my life so much easier! This shrimp alfredo pasta dish takes only 35 minutes to make, yet it tastes so amazingly delicious and looks very impressive – which makes everybody think that you put a lot of time and effort into it! Certainly not 35 minutes!

First, you’ll be cooking shrimp in butter, with 5 cloves of finely minced garlic – this will fill your house with a wonderful smell of cooked garlic!

Second, you will cook and drain the pasta. Then, you’ll combine the cooked pasta with the alfredo sauce ingredients and cook everything for several minutes until the cheeses blend nicely with the liquid ingredients. Finally, you’ll add shrimp. That’s it! Super easy!

I’ve used 1 pound of small cooked shrimp to make this recipe (it was about 90 shrimp count). This recipe can easily be gluten free: just use gluten free brown rice spaghetti.

How to Make Cheese Sauce

  1. You start with a roux made by melting the butter in a small pot and whisking in the flour until you get a lightly golden paste. Cooking the flour with butter first cooks the raw flour taste out of the mixture.
  2. Then slowly pour in the milk, being careful to whisk out any lumps as they form, and stir until you have a nice bubbly, creamy sauce.
  3. Once the sauce is thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the cheese a handful at a time. Add salt, pepper, and optional cayenne to taste, and voilà. Perfect cheese sauce ready to tasty up whatever you’re going to pour it over.

Sauce Variations

While I love a good cheddar cheese sauce, this recipe is endlessly customizable. Here are some recommendations:

  • Switch up the cheese: Any good melting cheese will work in this recipe. Give monterey jack, gouda, gruyere, or asiago cheese a try.
  • Make it spicy: Use pepper jack cheese and/or stir in extra cayenne pepper to taste for an extra spicy kick.

What to serve with cheese sauce?

The answer to this is: whatever you want!! If you can dream of drizzling cheese sauce over it, you can do it. But here are my recommendations to get you started:

  • Vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts with homemade chili
  • Homemade pretzels

(If you’d like to make this cheese sauce for fries, go check out my Cheese Fries post, which has instructions for making homemade fries to go along with the cheese sauce.)

How do you make a smooth cheese sauce?

To get the smoothest cheese sauce possible, follow these golden rules:

  • Use full-fat cheese that you grate yourself as bagged cheese has additives that can prevent it from melting smoothly.
  • Let the shredded cheese sit at room temperature for a short time so you’re not putting cold cheese into hot liquid.
  • Remove the sauce from heat before you stir in the cheese. Overheated cheese can clump.

Why does my sauce taste floury?

If your sauce tastes like flour, it’s probably because the roux was not cooked long enough before adding the milk. Next time, cook the butter and flour mixture until it begins to turn golden. This cooks out that raw flour taste.

Can I store this?

Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated gently on the stove or in the microwave, but it is best eaten right after cooking. It won’t be quite as smooth and creamy after refrigeration and reheating.

More Cheesy Recipes

A Note on Serving Size

As written, this recipe makes about 1 cup of cheese sauce, which generously serves 2. To change the recipe yield, in the recipe card below, hover over the number of servings (or click if you are on mobile) and slide the slider. Add a couple of minutes to the cooking time when doubling or tripling.

Basic Cheese Sauce

This is your basic cheese sauce recipe, using three different cheeses for three different reasons - Cheddar for flavor, Gruyère for meltability and Parmesan for salty seasoning.

The Simplest is Often the Best

Sometimes, keeping something simple is the best way to go and that is definitely true when you make a this sauce. Stick to the rules, follow the simple technique tips and most of all, add good cheeses. That’s the way to make the very best basic cheese sauce. All the technique and tips you need to now can be found here. It’s not hard, but there are a few helpful hints that can help you avoid any unexpected potholes. Once you realize how easy it is, and how tasty it can be when you make it yourself, you’ll probably never buy a cheese sauce again!

It’s all in the Cheeses you use

The classic name for a cheese sauce is Sauce Mornay in French and it is a derivative of one of the mother sauces of French cuisine – the Béchamel, or a white sauce. The only ingredients in a white sauce are butter, flour, milk and seasonings. By adding cheese to that white sauce, you now have a sauce mornay. What cheeses you add are up to you, but it’s best to go with those that melt well, are full of flavor and have a little kick to them. I like to use Parmesan because it is salty, Gruyère because it melts so well and Cheddar because I just love the flavor.

Thick or Thin?

Since you’re making homemade cheese sauce, you can customize it to suit whatever it is you are making. If I’m making a sauce for pasta, I like to keep it relatively thin because the pasta will continue to absorb liquid from the sauce. If I’m making a cheese sauce to go over vegetables, I’ll make it thicker so that it coats the vegetables better. You can determine how thick or thin the sauce will be by controlling how much milk and cheese you add. More milk will give you a thinner sauce. More cheese will give you a thicker sauce. It really is that simple.

How to Store Cheese Sauce

If you don’t use your cheese sauce right away, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week without any problem. When you re-heat it on the stovetop, stir it regularly so that it doesn’t break as you re-heat. As soon as it is warm enough, remove it from the heat. Over-heating the sauce once the cheese has been added will result in a gluey mess.

Can you Freeze Cheese Sauce?

Yes, you can!. It can keep in the freezer for a couple of months. When you re-heat it, there is the possibility that it could separate on you, but whisk it vigorously and don’t over-heat it and it should come back into shape.

Easy Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce

This dairy-free cheese sauce is all about versatility. When you’re pressed for time in the kitchen, a multipurpose recipe is just what you need. With this drizzle-able non-dairy cheese sauce, you can pull virtually anything out of your fridge or pantry and make it taste fantastic. Trying to eat more veggies? Roast or steam them and cover with cashew cheese sauce. Try out this quick meal: prep whatever grain you have on hand (pasta, quinoa, rice, couscous), layer on a half-cup of beans, top with cooked vegetables, and drizzle the whole thing with cheese sauce! You’ll find a plethora of other ways to use this sauce make it once and you’ll be hooked!

Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews (soaked at least 30 minutes and rinsed)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
⅛ teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened plant-based milk


1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. You might have to turn it off and scrape down the sides with a spatula every now and then or use the blender’s plunger to keep things moving. Taste and adjust seasonings, if you like.

2. When the mixture is completely smooth, you’re done! If there is any left, store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Recipe and photo reposted with permission of Julia Murray, a Switch4Good athlete, Olympian, food blogger, and co-founder of 80/20 Plants. If you’re a recipe developer, athlete, or just proud to be dairy-free, sign up to be a part of our growing team of go-getter individuals!


    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add both cans of tomatoes, breaking up with a wooden spoon, then increase heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup basil, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, 15󈞀 minutes.
    2. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain and transfer to a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet.
    3. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until foamy and nutty smelling, 1𔃀 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking often, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan and 1/3 cup Pecorino season with 1/2 tsp. salt and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper.
    4. Mix ricotta, mozzarella, shallot, egg, 1/3 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup basil, and remaining 1/3 cup Pecorino and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.
    5. Spoon ricotta mixture into manicotti noodles at both ends. Spread half of tomato sauce then half of cheese sauce (keep them separate but they'll meld together) on bottom of a 13x9" or other 3-qt. baking dish. Arrange manicotti over, then top with remaining tomato sauce, cheese sauce, and 1/3 cup Parmesan. Bake manicotti until bubbling and lightly browned on top, 30󈞏 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Top with remaining 1/4 cup basil and serve.

    In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat (do not allow it to brown). Add flour and whisk to form a paste. Continue to cook, stirring, until raw flour scent is gone, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add milk in a thin, steady stream, or in increments of a couple of tablespoons at a time, whisking thoroughly and getting into all corners of the pan to maintain a homogeneous texture. Sauce will initially become very thick, then get very thin once all the milk is added.

    Heat, stirring, until sauce comes to a simmer and begins to thicken slightly. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes.

    Season with salt and pepper. Add nutmeg to taste, if using. If any lumps form, simply whisk thoroughly to remove them and smooth out sauce, or use a hand blender or countertop blender if lumps are particularly large or tough. Working in 2 or 3 additions, whisk in cheese, incorporating each addition just as the one before it is on the verge of fully melting make sure to keep the heat low after the cheese goes in, as too much heat can cause the sauce to break. Remove from heat.

    Use sauce right away, or press a piece of plastic wrap over surface of sauce to prevent a skin from forming and keep warm until ready to use. Sauce can be cooled and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days. Reheat very gently on the stovetop or in the microwave before use.

    This Lightened Up Ravioli Lasagna Has The Best Alfredo Sauce

    Honestly, I’m just trying to make a case as to why YOU should turn on the oven in the middle of July.

    We’re starting with our homemade LIGHTENED-UP (again, balance :-D) Alfredo Sauce. Theeeen, our pretty little sauce will swim around those delicious four-cheese ravioli, with layers of fresh spinach in between each layer, and a crispy mixture of panko crumbs-and-cheese to top it all off. Amazing, right. RIGHT!

    How to Make Cheddar Cheese Sauce

    A rich cheese sauce can really bring out the various flavors of a dish. You can use a variety of different cheeses for a cheese sauce recipe, but we believe that cheddar cheese is the way to go! Our easy cheese sauce is fairly basic and straightforward to make and can be cooked up in only a few minutes. Use this sauce to add delicious flavor to cooked pasta, grilled or sautéed veggies, steak, baked potatoes, open-face roast beef sandwiches, nachos and more. If you’d like, you can also serve it as a sort of dipping sauce – we suggest using chips or crackers. If you enjoyed this easy cheese sauce recipe, please feel free to share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram (use our handle @cabotcheese when posting on Instagram).

    To make about 4 cups of cheese sauce, melt Cabot Salted Butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour a little at a time, until well blended. Continue stirring for a minute or two longer.

    Whisk in milk and continue stirring until sauce is thickened. Add grated Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, stirring until melted and blended.

    For another rich, easy cheese sauce, make our Roasted Garlic Cheddar Cheese Sauce. Did you know Cabot is a co-operative of farm families who continuously strive to produce the best dairy products around? We’d really appreciate it if you could rate and review this cheese sauce recipe when you have the chance.


    8 tablespoons (1 stick) Cabot Salted Butter
    ½ cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    4 cups hot milk (1%)
    16 ounces Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 4 cups)

    Cooking for fewer people?

    To make only two cups of sauce simply halve the ingredients (as below) and use a medium sized saucepan. Cooking method remains the same.

    4 tablespoons (½ stick) Cabot Salted Butter
    ¼ cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    2 cups hot milk (1%)
    8 ounces Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)

    Interested in creating this tasty recipe?

    Get the ingredients you need at a convenient nearby location.


    MELT butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.

    WHISK in flour a little at a time until well blended. Continue stirring for a minute or two longer.

    WHISK in milk and continue stirring until sauce is thickened.

    ADD cheese, stirring until melted and blended.

    NOTE: Freezing unused portions in airtight containers is recommended for this recipe. To thaw, leave the container in the refrigerator overnight until thawed and warm gently in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.