This Pickled Ingredient Is The Key To Stadium-Style Nacho Cheese Sauce

A bowl of stadium nachos
A bowl of stadium nachos - Nazdravie/Getty Images

Forget the peanuts and Cracker Jacks; when it's game time there's no better snack than a plate of stadium-style nachos. A simple pile of crispy tortilla chips topped with tangy, melty cheese sauce is a crowd pleaser that will never go out of style, as long as you know the key to making the perfect cheese sauce: Juice from a jar of pickled jalepeños. This tangy, spicy ingredient is the difference between a just-okay feed of nachos and a home run party spread, and you've probably been pouring it down the drain this whole time.

A pot of nacho cheese sauce is pretty easy to pull off, and if you can shred cheese you have all the cooking skills required. Even better -- unlike the stuff you can get from the pump at a concession stand -- you can definitely pronounce all of the ingredients. All you need is cheese, cornstarch, some milk or a milk alternative, plus a touch of briney jalapeño juice to balance it all out.

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Jalapeño Juice Won't Make Your Cheese Sauce Too Spicy

Nacho chip dipping cheese sauce
Nacho chip dipping cheese sauce - Alexthq/Getty Images

Even if you're not a fan of spicy food, don't skip out on using jalapeño juice in your nacho cheese sauce. Despite its primary purpose of keeping slices of peppers preserved, it's not actually bringing very much heat to the table when it's used as an ingredient. Instead, pickled jalapeño brine adds acidity to the sauce, which gives it dimension and brightness. You can make perfectly passable nacho cheese sauce without it, of course, but it will come out tasting pretty one-note.

Chefs and experienced home cooks use a similar trick to make food taste better all the time. All it takes is a tablespoon or so of something acidic to balance out the flavors of creamy soups and sauces. Often a squeeze of lemon juice does the trick, or a dash of brine from a jar of olives, but in the case of cheese sauce the peppery, spicy qualities of jalapeño juice work perfectly with the salty, fatty flavors of melted cheese, so it's an ideal ingredient match. Because you're only using a few teaspoons or tablespoons of juice, the heat is diluted by the volume of the sauce so you won't end up with anything overly spicy. If you do want some heat -- just throw some pickled jalapeños from the jar on top of your nachos.

Any Kind Of Cheese Will Do

Adding grated cheese to a pot of sauce
Adding grated cheese to a pot of sauce - /Getty Images

While you don't need a specific recipe to make stadium-style nacho cheese sauce, there are a few basic guidelines to follow. First, you'll need cheese, of course. Sharp yellow or orange cheddar works great, but you can also use chunks of American cheese, or pepperjack if you want a little extra kick. Toss your shredded or cubed cheese in a few tablespoons of cornstarch, which will thicken the sauce and give it a silky texture. Then, melt the starch-covered cheese in a pot with milk, cream, or a milk alternative. Whisk everything around until it comes together, and then add a dash of jalapeño juice to taste. It's that easy.

If you're not into making a sauce totally from scratch, that's perfectly fine, too, just add a little jalapeño juice to a can of store-bought cheese sauce or a block of melted processed cheese. A Redditor on a thread about making ballpark-style nacho cheese said, "Buy a block of Velveeta. Melt said block of Velveeta. Add liquid from a jar of pickled jalapeños." In fact, if you really want that authentic, artificial cheese sauce experience, this simple setup might be the best method of them all. "You can't make ballpark food with Whole Foods ingredients," they added.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.