Food preservation

Can You Can Nacho Cheese Sauce? Expert Insights Revealed

Canning dairy is more intimidating than simpler foods, like vegetables or your favorite fruit jam. Just thinking about canning cheese sauce should instantly raise all our food safety red flags. Canning dairy products, including nacho cheese sauce, is not scientifically validated or recommended by the USDA.

Canning dairy products like cheese is controversial and is not considered safe. There are no science-based methods for canning nacho cheese sauce that can guarantee its safety. Canned nacho cheese sauce can be a breeding ground for botulism. It is safer to freeze nacho cheese sauce.

Keeping a supply of delicious, homemade canned nacho cheese sauce may sound like a dream, but it can have dangerous consequences if you don’t get it right. Let’s explore the advantages and dangers of canning homemade nacho cheese sauce so you can decide if it is worth the risk.

Is it Safe To Can Nacho Cheese Sauce?

Social media is filled with clips of home canners confidently bottling nacho cheese sauce. Some are even decanting ready-made commercial products purchased in bulk into smaller jars. They then pressure can the conveniently sized jars before storing them in their pantries.

While there are accounts of nacho cheese sauce canning successes, canning dairy products is not considered safe. The reason is that creamy, low-acid dairy products like butter or nacho cheese can harbor botulism-causing bacteria.

The addition of moisture and heat during the canning process may support the growth of this harmful bacteria. Instead of nacho cheese sauce remaining shelf stable and delicious, it could quickly become a petri dish of botulism. It is, therefore, not recommended to can nacho cheese sauce.

Nacho cheese sauce

How To Store Canned Cheese Sauce

If you love nacho cheese sauce and want to make it or purchase it in bulk, canning it is not the safest way to keep it fresh. However, that does not mean you must do without this decadent creamy treat, as it can be safely frozen.

Homemade nacho cheese sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. Opened jars of store-bought nacho cheese sauce can last up to four weeks. Unless you are confident that you will use the remainder of an opened jar within a few days, it is safer to freeze it.

Freezing opened or leftover nacho cheese sauce in conveniently sized portions is an excellent way to always have a supply on hand. Whether you make a homemade cheese sauce from scratch or buy a ready-made version, it can be frozen, thawed, and heated.

Why Can’t Dairy Be Canned?

It is not only nacho cheese sauce that is not suitable for canning. Most other dairy products, including butter, cream, and milk, also don’t fare well during the canning process.

The high-fat content and density of dairy products result in changes occurring when the jars are heated during processing. In addition to becoming a potential breeding ground for botulism bacteria, the quality of the products in the jars would be affected.

Even commercially canned evaporated milk can go bad, so finding other ways to store dairy is highly advisable. The best options for long-term storage are to store dry powdered milk products or freeze sauces, including nacho cheese sauce.

What Is Nacho Cheese Sauce Made Of?

Nacho cheese sauce only contains five ingredients. You only need a saucepan to gently simmer and combine the delicious gooey sauce before it is ready to use.

Unfortunately, it is not safe to can nacho cheese sauce. Although many have done it and survived, the potential risk will always be in the back of your mind when you serve the food.

Fortunately, it only takes 10 minutes to make up a fresh batch of nacho cheese sauce from scratch. If you make too much, seal the leftovers in bags and freeze them to use next time.

Easy Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe

The homemade nacho cheese sauce is simple to make and delicious. Once you have tried making your own, you will realize how quick and straightforward it is to make it from scratch. You may never again settle for store-bought varieties, which are often packed with preservatives.

Preparation time: 5 minutes. Total cooking time: 5 minutes


  • 8 Oz Cheddar or processed American cheese. Velveeta works well and provides a velvety, creamy consistency. Use a brand you love to personalize the recipe. You may prefer an extra sharp taste or spiciness of a variety like pepper jack cheese.
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of salted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ Teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Melt the salted butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the flour and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Next, add the cup of milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and add the cheese.
  3. Stir gently until the cheese has melted.

Once the ingredients are combined, your homemade nacho cheese sauce is ready to serve and enjoy.

How Do You Preserve Nacho Cheese Sauce?

If you absolutely must have ready-made nacho cheese sauce available, the best way to preserve it is frozen. Store-bought varieties contain preservatives, so they can last up to four weeks in the refrigerator, but that is the limit before they must be discarded.

Like many dairy products, the nacho cheese sauce can separate during the freezing process. This will likely affect the quality, but a few tips will keep it fresher and give it new life when reheated.

  • Thaw the portions you intend to use overnight.
  • Make sure that the nacho cheese sauce does not contain any other bits of food mixed in that could affect quality. Discard any leftover sauce used for dipping, and only store the nacho cheese sauce left in the jar.
  • Warm the sauce gently in the microwave or on the stove.
  • Gently stir the mixture while it is heating to combine ingredients that may have separated.  
  • Never freeze leftover nacho cheese sauce for a second time.


Canning nacho cheese sauce is not recommended. The heat required from the pressure canning process would affect the ingredients, and the fats in the dairy products would separate. In addition, canned dairy products have a high risk of becoming a breeding ground for deadly botulism bacteria.

Homemade nacho cheese sauce takes less than ten minutes to prepare from scratch. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated when necessary. 


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