Velveeta-like – Homemade Liquid Gold

Cream Sauce

First, watch this video.  I’ll wait.

Done?  Great.

I love a classy Mac & Cheese.  I do mine with a Mornay sauce (a derivative of the French mother sauce, Béchamel, with Gruyère and Parmesan added) and guess what?  Its friggin’ delicious.  But sometimes I need my macaroni drowned in that orange-yellow creamy pool of cheese product that we all know and love: Velveeta.  I decided to try and make my own.

So call me a molecular gastronomy groupie, but if I had to choose between recipes from Chris Young (Modernist Cuisine and, Michael Symon (bad ass chef, turned Iron Chef, turned host of The Chew – what happened!?!???), or Laura Fuentes (entrepreneur/mom/CEO of MOMables – a website I stumbled upon and thought, “wow, what a great idea”) you know which I would go with.  Sorry Celebrity Chef Symon and Mommy Mommerson.

What’s interesting about the Modernist Cuisine recipe is that it tackles the number one problem with cheese sauce, which is the separation of fat and proteins when the sauce gets too hot.  You’ve seen it. Think about crappy nachos at a bar: the cheese solids harden onto the tortilla chip which is underneath a layer of shimmering grease.  Think about a cheese fondue gone wrong (a fondon’t, if you will): A pool of oil on the top, and chunks of curd on the bottom.

What they propose is adding 2% sodium citrate by weight of the whole recipe.  Sodium citrate is sodium salts from citric acid and has a tart flavor.  It is also known as a sour salt. It is used as an additive for flavor, a buffering agent to regulate pH, and an emulsifier.  I’ll leave it to Chefsteps to keep it real science-y up in here with this explanation of why it works.

Salts such as sodium citrate and sodium hexametaphosphate are known in the cheese industry as melting salts and replace the need for using a overly dry and tart wine. Their primary purpose is to swap sodium ions for calcium ions bound to the casein proteins in cheese. In doing so, they loosen these proteins and make them water-soluble.

I followed the Modernist Cuisine recipe for Silky Smooth Mac and Cheese, but decided to infuse the liquid with flavor before adding the sodium citrate and cheese.  Also, I was making such a small batch (1/2x the MC recipe) I decided to pour the liquid into the immersion blender cup that already had the cheese in it.  That way, the blender blade is fullly submersed in the sauce for better blending.  For flavoring I added tomato paste, garlic and Sriracha.  PRO TIP: flavor it however you like!  Try different cheeses.  Leave a comment with your flavor combination.

Recipe for Cheddar Cheese Sauce adapted from Modernist Cuisine

150g water
5g tomato paste
5g sriracha sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed

5g sodium citrate

130g sharp cheddar cheese

– Combine first set of ingredients in a pot.  Bring to simmer and keep covered on low heat for 10 minutes.

Cheddar Sauce - Liquid

Cheddar Sauce – Liquid

– Remove liquid from pot and measure out 120g of liquid.  Return the 120g of liquid to pot.  Add sodium citrate, whisking to dissolve.  Bring up to simmer.

Sodium Citrate - From Kaluystan's of course

Sodium Citrate – From Kalustyan’s of course

– Pour liquid and garlic into the cup that comes with the stick blender, along with the cheddar.  Blend until smooth.

Buzz buzz

Buzz buzz

– Use sauce on whatever needs cheese.  That’s everything.

Farfalle and Cheese

Farfalle and Cheese


  1. Ema Jones · September 12, 2014

    I’m adding some garlic salt instead of garlic cloves, hope it’s fine, as I don’t wanna use garlic here directly…


    • Ron Fan · September 12, 2014

      Go for it!! I’ve even tried made a dashi as the liquid with great results.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ema Jones · September 14, 2014

        Thanks will be adding garlic salt in the recipe. Happy Cooking 🙂


  2. Sylvia Caldwell · September 13, 2014

    Do you think this would work with lemon juice instead of sodium citrate?


    • Ron Fan · September 14, 2014

      I don’t think so… Even though sodium citrate is derived from citric acid, they have very different affects. Sodium citrate, in this case, is being used for its emulsifying properties, not its taste. Adding lemon juice would just drop the pH and make is lemony.


  3. Aaron Lee · September 15, 2014

    Does the addition of the citrate prevent the end result from separating.. FOREVER?


    • Ron Fan · September 21, 2014

      Forever is such a long time! I believe it will separate slowly over time. Ultimately, the sodium citrate prevents the sauce from separating in the presence of heat.


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