How to Melt Cheese

Make a Cheese Sauce


Our recommended way to melt cheddar is the tried-and-true stovetop method. While you can melt cheese in a microwave, especially if you’re strapped for time, you have more control when melting on the stove and can more easily avoid burning the cheese and reduce the risk of your sauce having an unappealing texture.

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6 steps to successfully melt cheese for recipes & more

Start with a Mild or Sharp Cheddar 


You’ll find the classic, Cabot cheddar cheese in four basic flavors: Mild, Sharp, Extra Sharp and Seriously Sharp The sharpness level indicates how long the cheese has been aged, with aging increasing as you go from Mild to Seriously Sharp.  

The texture of the cheese also changes as the cheese ages. Mild and Sharp Cheddar have a smoother, creamier texture than Extra Sharp and Seriously Sharp Cheddar. They also have a higher moisture content than Extra Sharp and Seriously Sharp Cheddar and are, therefore, easier to melt.

Shred the Cheese


Wondering how to melt a block cheese? Shred it first!

The thin and uniform shape of shredded cheese will melt more quickly, easily and evenly than a whole block of cheese, so it’s important to take the time to shred your cheese before starting to melt it. Or pick up our pre-shredded cheeses as an option. This upfront effort will make a huge difference in the outcome of your melted cheese.

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Place in a Non-Stick Pot or Skillet


When adding shredded cheese to a roux (a mixture of flour & fat is used to thicken sauces), allow it to reach room temperature before you begin heating it. This will result in a smoother sauce and the cheese will require less heat to melt at room temperature. 

Pile the room temperature shredded cheese into a non-stick pot with plenty of space to accommodate the cheese, allowing you enough room to easily stir to make the sauce. Using a non-stick pan or skillet, such as ceramic or porcelain-enameled, will be a lifesaver. This type of pan will keep stray, sticky strands of cheese from sticking to the sides and make it less likely for your cheese to burn. Not to mention, they’re a breeze to clean!

Use Low Heat


Place the non-stick pan with your shredded cheese and roux on the stove and turn the heat to the lowest setting.

The rule of thumb when it comes to melting cheese for a sauce is to always melt it at the lowest heat possible because, if you use high heat to melt cheese, you risk losing the moisture and fat in the cheese. This results in melted cheese that is lumpy, greasy, stiff or charred - qualities you never want a cheese sauce to have!

Watch Closely & Stir Often


Melting cheese is not one of those set it and forget it cooking tasks. Whatever you do, don’t leave the cheese unattended on your stove. If you do, it will likely burn and be ruined. 

Stir the cheese frequently to keep it moving around the pot. This step will ensure the cheese is evenly melted through and prevent it from sticking to the pot and/or burning.

Remove from Heat


Watch the cheese closely as it melts.

Once it looks and feels smooth and has been evenly melted, give it a final stir and then remove the pan from the heat.

If you melt the cheese any longer than is necessary, it can result in a rubbery consistency and negatively impact the flavor. 

Cheese sauces are phenomenal for a variety of purposes, including pouring over nachos, using as a dip for crackers and fresh veggies and as a topping on pasta or chicken. 

One simple way to make cheese sauce is to melt butter in a skillet over low heat, adding grated cheese a little at a time. You’ll want each batch of cheese to be completely melted into the butter before putting in the next addition.

Our Queso Fundido Nachos with Cabot Pepper Jack is a delicious recipe that uses this technique for making a cheese sauce. 

Also try our Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce(ideal as a dip for chips or crackers) and watch the accompanying videos for our Roasted Garlic Cheddar Cheese SauceJalapeno Cheese SauceSimple Cheddar Cheese Sauce.

Now that you’re a cheese melting whiz, you’ll want to add some great snack and meal ideas that incorporate melted cheese to your cooking arsenal. 

From using melted cheese for a mouthwatering nacho dip, slathering atop tacos and creating a fabulous cheese fondue, to making the best grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese sauces, there are so many creative and delicious ways to use melted cheese.

Some additional favorites are Hot Italian Cheddar DipCheddar & Beer Fondue and Cabot Sharp Cheddar Fondue.

Melt Cheese in a Grilled Cheese or Quesadilla


The key is to make sure you use a cheese that melts well. Ones to avoid are Parmesan and Pecorino (any hard, aged cheeses), goat and feta (any dry, crumbly cheeses) as they don’t melt well.

Cheeses that are made for melting in grilled cheese and quesadillas include CheddarAmericanSwiss and Monterey Jack

When melting cheese in recipes such as grilled cheese or quesadillas, you’ll want to keep the stove between low and medium heat to allow your recipe to be evenly and well cooked.

We know it’s hard to wait, but it will be well worth the slower cooking speed when you get to enjoy a sandwich with cheese that’s been melted to perfection!

For two excellent spins on the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, try our Eggs Benedict Grilled Cheese with Hollandaise Sauce and our Heaven in Vermont Grilled Cheese.

For next-level quesadillas, try our Bacon, Chicken and Sweet Corn Quesadillas and our Huevos Rancheros Quesadillas. For an meatless option, try our Roasted Butternut Squash Quesadillas with Cheddar.

How to Melt Cheese on Top of Food

Wen making nachos and casseroles, you’ll need to sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of your dish and then place it in the oven according to the recipe instructions. The general rule is to bake the dish until the cheese is bubbly and melted, which will vary based on the oven temperature and type of cheese being used. Remember to check the cheese on the lower end of the time range noted in the recipe to avoid burning the cheese. If the dish needs to bake longer, keep a close eye on it and check often. 

Not all Cheese is Made for Melting

To start off, you need to know which cheese is best for melting – and which cheese isn’t. Since low-fat and low-moisture cheeses (think Romano and Parmesan) burn easily, these are not your ideal melting cheeses. Yes, they will melt into strands that are suitable to sit on top of pasta, but they will not turn into a beautiful, smooth, creamy melted cheese sauce. These types of cheese are best suited for grating over dishes.

Cheeses with more moisture and lower melting points make for mouthwatering, creamy cheese sauces. Cheddar is one of the most popular choices, but Swiss and Gruyère are also terrific options.