Keto Nacho Cheese Sauce


This easy-to-make keto nacho cheese sauce contains a total of four ingredients, and three of them are cheese! Unlike most gluten-free keto queso recipes, this cheese sauce is not grainy or greasy.

Low carb queso sauce recipe

a plate of nachos with jalapenos

Delicious Keto Nacho Cheese sauce recipes are hard to find, but our mixture of sharp cheddar, fontina, and swiss cheese hits it right out of the ballpark.

While many keto queso sauces can’t achieve the right texture because they use almond flour or xanthan gum, our recipe uses a secret ingredient – sodium citrate! By using sodium citrate, the proteins in the cheese sauce become more soluble while lowering the level of acidity in the sauce. It gives the sauce a smooth and creamy texture without curdling the cheese, which makes the perfect topper for keto nachos. This is a much better alternative than the grainy consistency that comes with an almond flour thickener or a slimy cheese sauce when xanthan gum is used.

Some keto queso dip recipes even use American cheese since it is easy to melt and creamy, but it is highly processed and high in carbs. In fact, American cheese is not even considered a real cheese; it is a cheese ‘cheese product’.

Other recipes use cream cheese as a softer cheese, but again this is higher in carbs which we are trying to avoid on the keto diet.

Keto Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe Video

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Keto Queso Sacue Ingredients

  • 7 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2.5 oz fontina cheese, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 ⅓ cup water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sodium citrate

Keto Nacho Cheese Sauce Directions

  • Keto Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • creamy queso dripping from a spoon

    Three cheese queso

    This keto queso sauce is made of three of the very best cheeses. Our recipe uses sharp cheddar cheese to make up most of the cheese sauce. This is because it provides that iconic dark yellow queso color while adding that extra kick of flavor to the sauce. Our next cheese for the keto queso recipe is fontina cheese. Fontina cheese makes up less than half of the keto nacho cheese sauce, but it is the cheese that gives the sauce a stretchy texture since it is soft and melts easily. This cheese is the ultimate keto cheese with zero carbs. The third cheese used for this keto queso dip recipe is swiss cheese. Although it is used in very low quantities, it adds a slightly sweet, nutty flavor to the sauce. These three kinds of cheese combine to make one of the best keto nacho cheese sauces out there. Give it a try to see for yourself!

    nacho cheese dripping from a tortilla chip

    Don’t use pre-shredded cheese

    One of the best cooking tips is to stay away from pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains many preservatives and anticaking ingredients to extend its shelf-life in grocery stores. This means that the shredded cheese in the grocery stores is not nearly as fresh as a solid block of cheese. Preservatives such as potato starch are used to keep the cheese from melting together in the sealed bags, but they also interfere with melting when creating a smooth queso sauce. To get the best results out of this recipe, make sure to grate your own cheese! That way, you can have a liquid, smooth-flowing cheese sauce to place on top of keto nachos, tacos, or any other dish that can be enhanced with cheese sauce.

    Sodium citrate

    While sodium citrate may sound like a terrifying chemical, it is actually just a unique type of salt typically found in citrus fruits. Sodium citrate is an emulsifier that has the ability to turn cheese into a cohesive, smooth sauce. Even just a tiny amount of sodium citrate is able to lower the pH level in cheese, turning the cheese into a thick but fluid sauce. Sodium citrate is popular for many cheese recipes requiring melting cheese down into a smooth texture, such as mac and cheese sauce, broccoli cheddar soup, or cheese fondue.

    nacho cheese dripping down the side of a bowl of cheese with a plate of nachos in the background


    Our keto nacho cheese sauce recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. With a long storage life, you can serve this keto cheese sauce with multiple weeknight meals. Pour it over some keto tortilla chips, keto tacos, or drizzle it over a keto burger and make the most of this delicious sauce. Just reheat it over the stovetop and add water if the mixture is too thick.

    Keto tortilla chips

    There are several options when it comes to keto tortilla chips for making nachos. You could get low carb tortillas and cut them into triangles and fry them yourself; however, these low carb tortillas do contain gluten. Another option is to use corn tortillas but these are a little too high in carbs for me.

    Instead, I like to buy either of these keto tortilla chips that are commercially available. Not only are these options keto approved, they are gluten free too! And it’s so much easier to open a bag instead of making them yourself.

    Of course, if you don’t have access to any of these for your keto nachos, just use pork rinds. Most grocery stores carry them. I’ve even seen recipes using roasted cauliflower.

    Favorite keto nacho toppings

    Making nachos? Great! Here’s some ideas for toppings to put on your keto nachos besides this yummy queso dip recipe.

    • chorizo
    • ground beef seasoning with taco seasoning
    • chicken
    • jalapeños
    • pickled jalapeños
    • diced tomato
    • Pico de Gallo
    • guacamole
    • avocado
    • olives
    • shredded cheese
    • green onions
    • bell pepper
    • sour cream
    • salsa

    Nutritional information & Macros

    Nutrition Information

    Keto Nacho Cheese Sauce

    Servings: 6

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 195
    Fat 14.8g
    Protein 11.8g
    Total Carbs 0.1g
    Net Carbs 0.1g

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    1. Fantastic! Tastes exactly like you’d expect nacho cheese to taste like, except I can actually feel good about it because it’s made from quality ingredients. Thank you!

    2. Close to perfect but the 2/3 cup water at the end was too much. I’ll adjust that next time and it’ll PERFECT.

    3. I read in many publications sodium citrate is extremely harmful. Is there something healthy you would substitute?

      1. Sodium citrate is used in a lot of different foods and recipes. It is salt of citric acid which is found naturally in plants and animals. It is only harmful in very, very large doses as it affects the pH. In fact, they use sodium citrate pharmaceutically to treat kidney stones.

      2. No, Bernice. It is extremely healthy when used properly and FOOD GRADE is . necessary when cooking.

    4. Can you explain the issue with the Calphalon pans? We just got some then I saw this while looking up Queso..

      1. One person had an issue with it. I’m not sure why someone would use a non-stick calphalon sauce pan. My saucepans are all stainless steel, but apparently the citric acid can eat away on the surface. I’m not sure if it’s all non-stick pans or just the Calphalon brand.

    5. Saw this recipe on Highfalutin. I only have one sauce pan and it’s non-stick, I opted to do this in the microwave in a glass bowl. I came out perfect. Heated the water and sodium citrate first and gradually add the cheese, microwaving 30 secs at time until blended continued repeat to add cheese & 30 secs. Gradually added water 1 Tbsp at time until happy with the consistence. Yum… Yum Yum

    6. Thank you for this recipe! 🙂 Can the cheese sauce be frozen in serving sizes and reheated? Also, I would like to make a white version with green chilies. Any suggestions on what cheese I should use?

    7. In one of your videos on YouTube you used a powdered cheese, but now I can’t locate the video. After watching the Nacho Cheese Recipe video, I’m wondering if the podered cheese is even necessary to have on hand?

      1. I used the powdered cheese for cheez-its and keto doritos. Unless you plan on making those, you don’t have to have the powdered cheese on hand. Hope that helps!

    8. This recipe for nacho cheese is wonderful. So simple and delicious. I usually double the recipe. Much better than that velvetta stuff.
      I put it in “take away” microwaveable containers and store on my fridge. But they keep disappearing, hum so good and quick 1 minute heat in microwave with pork rinds. Awesome!

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