How many calories in home made cheese sauce?

When it comes to home made cheese sauce, the number of calories can vary quite a bit depending on the specific ingredients and amounts used. However, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when estimating the calorie count of a homemade cheese sauce recipe.

Quick Answer

As a general rule of thumb, a 1/4 cup serving of a basic homemade cheese sauce made with milk, butter, flour and cheese will contain around 200-250 calories. A richer or thicker cheese sauce made with cream and/or added cheese can contain 300-400 calories per 1/4 cup. The exact calorie count will depend on the specific ingredients and amounts used.

What Factors Affect the Calories in Cheese Sauce?

There are several factors that affect the calorie content in homemade cheese sauce:

  • Type of cheese used – Harder, more aged cheeses like parmesan are lower in fat and calories than softer cheeses like cheddar or brie.
  • Amount of cheese – More cheese means more calories.
  • Type of milk/cream – Whole milk and heavy cream add more fat and calories than skim or low-fat milk.
  • Amount of milk/cream – More milk or cream increases calories.
  • Amount of butter – Butter is high in fat and calories.
  • Thickening agent – A roux made with butter and flour adds more calories than a starch thickener like cornstarch.
  • Serving size – The calories increase with larger serving sizes.

By selecting lower fat ingredients and keeping portion sizes under control, you can make a cheese sauce with fewer calories. However, in general, homemade cheese sauces will be higher in calories than commercial “light” cheese sauces made with low fat milk and reduced fat cheese.

Calories in Common Homemade Cheese Sauce Recipes

Here is an estimate of the calories in some typical homemade cheese sauce recipes based on a 1/4 cup serving size:

Cheese Sauce Recipe Estimated Calories
Basic white sauce with milk, butter, flour and cheddar 200-250 calories
Bechamel sauce made with milk, butter and flour 150-200 calories
Mornay sauce (white sauce with parmesan and gruyere) 250-300 calories
Alfredo sauce made with butter, parmesan and heavy cream 300-400 calories
Blue cheese dressing made with mayo and sour cream 400-500 calories

As you can see, the more fat and cheese a recipe contains, the higher the calorie count will be. Lighten up any cheese sauce by using reduced-fat milk, limiting high-fat ingredients like cream and butter, and using smaller amounts of strongly flavored cheese like parmesan so a little goes a long way.

How to Calculate Calories Based on Ingredients

To estimate the calories in a homemade cheese sauce recipe, add up the calories for each ingredient and divide by the total number of servings the recipe makes.

Here’s an example calculation for a basic white cheese sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter (200 calories)
  • 2 tbsp flour (60 calories)
  • 1 cup whole milk (150 calories)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (220 calories)

Total calories = 630

Number of servings = 4

630 / 4 = Approximately 150 calories per serving

To determine the calories in a specific serving size like 1/4 cup, divide the per serving number by the conversion:

150 calories per serving / 4 = 38 calories per 1/4 cup

This method allows you to calculate the calories for any homemade cheese sauce based on the actual amounts of ingredients used. Keep in mind that brands of ingredients like cheese and milk can vary in calories too. Checking labels will give you the most accurate calorie counts for your specific ingredients.

Comparing Homemade vs Store-Bought Cheese Sauce

In general, a homemade cheese sauce made with real cheese, milk and butter will be higher in calories than a pre-packaged cheese sauce made with commercially processed ingredients. However, it depends on the specific products being compared.

For example:

  • Kraft Cheez Whiz – 45 calories per 2 Tbsp
  • Velveeta Cheese Sauce – 40 calories per 2 Tbsp
  • Basic homemade cheddar cheese sauce – Approximately 75 calories per 2 Tbsp

Even though homemade tends to be higher calorie, it offers some advantages like control over ingredients. You can adjust a homemade recipe to be lower calorie by using reduced fat dairy, less butter, etc. Pre-packaged sauces may be more consistent in calories and convenient, but can contain preservatives and artificial flavors.

Tips for Lightening Up Cheese Sauce

Here are some tips for reducing the calories in homemade cheese sauce:

  • Use reduced-fat or low-fat milk instead of whole or heavy cream
  • Replace some or all of the butter with oil when making a roux
  • Use a light sprinkle of strongly flavored cheese like parmesan instead of larger amounts of mild cheddar or mozzarella
  • Use nutritionally balanced thickeners like wheat flour and cornstarch instead of high-fat roux
  • Add pureed cauliflower or low-fat Greek yogurt to create a thicker sauce without extra fat or calories
  • Flavor with herbs, spices, garlic, onion, mustard instead of relying solely on cheese for flavor
  • Go easy on high-calorie add-ins like bacon, heavy cream, or beer

With some simple substitutions and smart cooking techniques, it’s definitely possible to enjoy cheese sauce as part of a healthy diet.

How Many Calories Should You Have in a Meal?

When incorporating cheese sauce into a meal, it’s important to pay attention to overall calorie intake for the entire dish. Here are some general guidelines for calories per meal or entree:

  • Women: 300-500 calories
  • Men: 400-600 calories
  • Meal including cheese sauce:Aim for 500-700 calories maximum to leave room for other foods during the day

If making a cheese sauce pasta bake or casserole, calculate the calories for the pasta, proteins, vegetables and sauce combined. Having a very high-calorie cheese sauce can make it easy to go over a reasonable calorie target for the entire meal.

Some good options for lighter main dishes with cheese sauce include:

  • Baked chicken breast with cauliflower and cheese sauce: 500 calories
  • Portobello mushroom caps filled with cheese sauce and roast vegetables: 450 calories
  • Broccoli cheddar soup made with reduced fat milk: 350 calories
  • Turkey enchiladas with salsa verde and low-fat cheese sauce: 600 calories


Homemade cheese sauce can absolutely be part of a healthy diet when made with nutritious ingredients and sensible portion sizes. In general, a 1/4 cup serving of basic cheese sauce will come in around 200 calories, but can range from about 150-400 calories depending on what’s included in the recipe. When making and eating cheese sauce, focus on good fats like olive oil over butter, reduced fat dairy options, and smaller amounts of strongly flavored cheese. Cheese sauce makes a delicious addition to vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains as part of a balanced meal.

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