Homemade cheese sauce always tastes fantastic when paired with various dishes. However, you may not always end up with the smooth and creamy cheese sauce that you want and love.
When this happens, you may wonder, why is my cheese sauce gritty? Gritty cheese sauce is a common occurrence, and it may be a result of; using excess heat during the cooking process, adding excess acid to the sauce, or not using enough fat.
This article discusses the various reasons why your cheese sauce is gritty and what you can do to fix it. Additionally, we’ll look at tips on making the perfect cheese sauce.
Reasons why your cheese sauce is gritty
Dairy sauces, including cheese sauce, tend to get gritty or grainy due to curdling. Note that the two main ingredients in cheese sauce are fat and milk.
Therefore, the proteins in the combination tend to separate.
The three main factors that promote grittiness in cheese sauce are excess heat, excess acid, and not enough fat. Let us discuss these factors in detail.
Excess heat and dairy products, including cheese, don’t go well together.
If you are making a sauce that contains cheese, you must use low heat. Using high heat will make your cheese sauce gritty.
Although citric acid is known to rescue cheese sauce, it can also ruin it. If your cheese sauce is already creamy, don’t bother adding lemon juice to it. Lemon juice may make it gritty, and no one loves gritty cheese sauce.
If you must add lemon juice, add it towards the end of cooking when you have turned down the heat. Failure to do so, your sauce will curdle and end up unpalatable.
Not enough fat
What makes cheese sauce creamy is the fat content. Therefore, you shouldn’t use low-fat cheese or skim cheese when making a cheese sauce.
Your cheese sauce won’t have enough fat; hence it won’t be creamy.
How To Fix Gritty Cheese Sauce.
Now that you know what makes cheese sauce gritty, you should know how to fix it.
If you notice your cheese sauce has started becoming gritty when you add the cheese to the milk, fat, and flour mixture, follow these simple steps to fix it.
- Remove the pan from heat. As discussed above, high heat is the number one cause of gritty cheese sauce.
- Allow the cheese sauce to cool. I highly recommend transferring it to a different pan to halt the cooking process.
- If you had not added any acids to your cheese sauce before, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Note that you should only do this if you’re sure that excess acid is not the cause of your sauce’s gritty texture. The lemon juice will detangle the protein molecules, stopping any further curdling. Alternatively, you could use white wine. It may slightly alter the flavor of your cheese sauce, but I bet no one would notice.
- If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, add two tablespoons of high-fat cream to the sauce. Whisk it in until you achieve a smooth and creamy consistency. Other than changing the texture, the cream will stop the sauce from curdling.
- Whisk the sauce vigorously to combine the ingredients. Remember to be careful while doing this, or else the sauce may slosh out the pan.
Note that you shouldn’t add lemon juice and high-fat cream to your cheese sauce simultaneously. There will be more curdling if you do, and your sauce will remain gritty.
Tips on Making The Perfect Cheese Sauce.
If, for some reason, your cheese sauce always turns out gritty, follow these tips to make the perfect creamy cheese sauce every time.
Make a smooth roux
The roux is a mixture of flour and fat in equal parts. Usually, it is the foundation of your cheese sauce.
Making smooth roux guarantees that your cheese sauce will have a smooth consistency, so take your time and be intentional.
It would be best to use flour and oil to make the roux. Do not substitute oil with butter or flour with corn starch. Your cheese sauce will be gritty if you do.
Avoid using pre-grated cheese
pre-grated cheese seems convenient to use, but more often than not, it results in gritty cheese sauce since it contains preservatives that are primarily in powder form.
The preservatives tend to alter the texture of the cheese, making your cheese sauce have a grainy consistency.
Use cheese at room temperature.
For the best results, don’t use the cheese you’ve just removed from your fridge. Cheese straight from the refrigerator has a high chance of curdling.
I suggest you remove your cheese from the fridge when you start cooking. This way, it will be at room temperature by the time you want to use it.
Use low heat throughout
As mentioned above, you should not use high heat when making a cheese sauce. Use low heat throughout.
Low heat ensures that the cheese melts evenly and does not curdle.
Don’t add in all the cheese at once
It would be best if you didn’t add in all the cheese your recipe requires at once. Instead, add it little by little as you whisk it in. This way, your cheese sauce will have a smooth consistency.
If your recipe calls for eggs, whisk them in towards the end
If your recipe requires you to add eggs, add them towards the end of your cooking. Adding eggs early on may result in a gritty consistency.
Adding corn starch to your cheese sauce is essential because the corn starch absorbs water and ensures that the mixture does not separate. Simply put, it acts as a stabilizer.
If you were wondering why your cheese sauce is gritty, we hope this article answered your questions. The culprits are excess heat, excess acid, and lack of enough fat.
Follow the steps we shared to fix gritty cheese sauce and use the tips above to make the perfect cheese sauce. I guarantee you it will have the perfect, creamy consistency.
Let me know whether this article was helpful in the comments below.