Creamy Cheese Sauce

This super easy Cheese Sauce recipe is a game changer in the kitchen and is way better than any store-bought kind! It’s so versatile, it can be used as a nacho cheese sauce on loaded nachos, mac and cheese sauce or even a cheese sauce for broccoli!

The kids will love this homemade cheese sauce because it goes with everything! And how much easier can it get with only a handful of ingredients? Honestly the best cheddar cheese sauce you’ve ever had.

A serving cup full of homemade cheese sauce topped with fresh black pepper with broccoli in the background.

How to Make a Roux for Cheese Sauce

The most important part of any good sauce is a ‘roux’ which is, essentially, a cooked, thickened combination of butter and flour.

This will be the base of the sauce and it only takes a few minutes to whip up! Be sure to stir it constantly and cook the flour to rid of any starchy flavor before adding the other ingredients.

Any Cheese Goes

You can use any type of cheese for this recipe based on what you’re pouring it over.

Gooey cheese sauce being poured over a bowl of steamed broccoli.

How to Make a Cheese Sauce

Here’s where it gets good! Really good! To make a cheese sauce:

  1. Cook flour and seasonings with butter to remove any floury flavor
  2. Slowly add in some milk to the roux and whisk constantly (it will be super thick). Keep adding a little at a time until it smooths out.
  3. Whisk until it reaches a boil and let bubble 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat and add cheese. Whisk until smooth.

Remember to always remove from the heat before adding cheese, the milk will still be plenty hot enough to melt it. Cheese can separate or become grainy if it gets too hot.

Be sure to adjust for taste, feel free to add a splash of hot sauce or garlic powder…anything that you want!

Steamed broccoli smothered in cheese sauce.

How to Thicken Cheese Sauce

The ratio below will create a perfectly thick and cheesy sauce and shouldn’t require thickening.

The best way to thicken a cheese sauce would be to add more cheese! Who can resist a thick, creamy, savory cheese sauce perfect for making Homemade Mac and Cheese too!

Another way to thicken a cheese sauce is to add a little bit of cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch and water) added a little at a time to hot cheese sauce. This method is less desirable, you do risk the cheese separating if you re-heat it too much when thickening.

More Cheese Please

Creamy Cheese Sauce

This super easy cheese sauce recipe is a game changer in the kitchen and is way better than any store-bought kind! 

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or a pinch)
  • 1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  2. Add milk a small amount at a time, whisking smooth after each addition.

  3. Add onion powder and white pepper.

  4. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking continually until slightly thick.

  5. Remove from heat, and add cheeses. Stir until melted.

Nutrition information is based on 1 cup of sauce.

This gooey cheese sauce is full of cheesy goodness. We love making broccoli and cheese sauce or pouring it over macaroni and cheese. This cheese sauce recipe is the best! #spendwithpennies #cheese #cheesesauce #cheesesaucerecipe #sauce #cheesesauceandbroccoli
This gooey cheese sauce is full of cheesy goodness. We love making broccoli and cheese sauce or pouring it over macaroni and cheese. This cheese sauce recipe is the best! #spendwithpennies #cheese #cheesesauce #cheesesaucerecipe #sauce #cheesesauceandbroccoli

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers (Grilled)

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers  are the perfect summer-time snack or game day appetizer!  Fresh jalapenos are stuffed with a mixture of cheeses and seasoning and wrapped in smoky bacon and cooked on the barbecue until tender.

The cheese becomes perfectly melty, the peppers tender and the bacon crisp and smoky for the most amazing bite.

A plate of bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers off the grill

I absolutely adore stuffed jalapeno poppers in any way, shape, or form including Jalapeno Popper Dip to Jalapeño Cheddar Stuffed Burgers. And of course what doesn’t taste amazing wrapped in bacon? I could pretty much eat these bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers at any meal and I especially love this version using fresh jalapenos and bacon. It just so happens that skipping the breading makes these into a low carb/keto jalapeno popper!

How to Make Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

When cutting several jalapenos, please please please wear gloves. The oils in the peppers can really affect (and burn) your skin if you’re cutting several peppers.

Control the spice level: To reduce the heat from jalapenos (and other spicy peppers), be sure to remove all of the seeds and membranes as that’s where the capsaicin is contained (which is what makes them spicy).  You can use any peppers in this recipe including sweet baby red & yellow peppers if you don’t like spice or would like to have another option for those that don’t eat spicy foods.

Bacon: I slightly pre-cook the bacon. This extra step is great for grilling because it helps reduce flare ups (more on reducing flare ups below) and it always results in a crisper bacon without overcooking the peppers.

Ingredients to make grilled jalapeno poppers

How to Cook Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers: We most often cook these on the grill in the summer, and while you can cook them directly on the grill, a grill mat helps reduce flare ups! I use grill mats for so many things from burgers and veggies to Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.  They reduce flare ups, keep things from slipping through the grates and clean up like a dream.

To grill cream cheese jalapeno poppers from frozen, we turn the grill down and cook them low and slow to ensure the middle heats & melts.

Baked Bacon Wrapped Poppers: In the winter, we bake this stuffed jalapeno poppers recipe in the oven.  Preheat to 425 degrees, place on a parchment lined pan and bake about 18-23 minutes or until bacon is crisp and cheese is melted. Broil 1 minute at the end if needed. So easy!

A baking sheet with bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers ready to be grilled

Can you Freeze Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers?

Absolutely!! Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers are the perfect snack to have on hand for unexpected guests.  I often make a couple of large trays and freeze them (before cooking).  Once frozen I move them to a sealed container (or freezer bag) and store them for a few months.

When guests pop by, pour a pitcher of mojitos, heat up the grill and throw these on right from frozen.  The perfect summer snack!

Need More amazing Jalapeno recipes?

Here are some of my other favorite recipes with a spicy kick of jalapenos:

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Delicious jalapenos stuffed with a gooey cheesy filling and wrapped in bacon! These are grilled until the bacon crisps and the cheese melts .. and are out of this world!

  • 6 whole jalapeno peppers
  • 6 oz cream cheese (the block, not the spreadable)
  • 1 green onion (finely minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 oz sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 12 slices bacon
  1. Cut the stem off each jalapeno and cut in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scrape out seeds & membranes.
  2. In a small bowl combine cream cheese, green onion, garlic powder and cheddar cheese. Stuff into the jalapeno halves.
  3. Wrap each jalapeno completely with bacon ensuring the cheese is covered. Secure with toothpicks.

To Grill

  1. Place jalapenos on grill cut side down and grill just until bacon begins to crisp (about 6 minutes). Gently loosen bacon from the grill and flip jalapenos over. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook an additional 10-12 minutes or until bacon is cooked and cheese is melted.

To Bake

  1. Preheat to 425 degrees, place on a parchment lined pan and bake about 18-23 minutes or until bacon is crisp and cheese is melted.

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Jalapeno Poppers on plateStack of Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

 

Jalapeno Popper Crescent Cups

Jalapeño Cheddar Burgers (Turkey or Beef)

Mini Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Jalapeno Popper Dip!

Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup is a bowl full of comfort! Thick, cheesy, and addictive, this delicious soup simmers all day in the crock-pot and is ready to eat when you are, with just a few finishing touches.

This rich velvety soup is loaded with broccoli and lots of cheese for the perfect slow cooker soup recipe! It’s creamy, dreamy, delicious!

Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup in a bowl ready with a soup spoon

While I do love a good quick Broccoli Cheese Soup, making Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup can be a real lifesaver on those busy family days when everyone is coming and going! The crockpot is the real hero in this broccoli and cheese soup recipe because you just set it and forget it! In fact, why not put it together before work and come home to a healthy, filling dinner that everyone will love! Better yet, only one pot to wash!

How to Make Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

  • BROCCOLI: Be sure to properly prep the broccoli by removing the fibrous outer skin and chop into uniform pieces. Place in the crock pot and onions and chicken stock. Make sure there is enough stock to completely cover the broccoli because this will be the base.
  • COOK: Cover the crockpot and cook (on low or high) until the broccoli is tender. Add evaporated milk 30-60 minutes before serving.
  • BLEND: You can leave it chunky or puree it with a hand blender until it is smooth. Personally, I like to take some of the broccoli out and chop it, puree the remainder using a hand blender and then add the chopped broccoli back in!
  • CHEESE: Add the cheese just before serving. Dairy (including cheese) can break down and separate if cooked too long or too hot (the exception to this rule is Velveeta, it can be added a bit sooner to melt).
  • ADD-INS: This soup is versatile. We sometimes add in some chunks of processed cheese (Velveeta), a half the jar of Alfredo sauce or a few spoonfuls of pesto. Top it with bacon, add in some garlic or serve it with croutons!

A crock pot filled with broccoli and vegetables ready to make slow cooker broccoli cheese soup

Add some diced potatoes for a heartier broccoli potato cheese soup. Or leave the recipe as is and enjoy it as a low carb broccoli cheese soup! Great for a potluck!

Rich and Creamy

When pureeing the soup, remember not to put hot soup in a blender with a lid!  I used an immersion blender (hand blender) in the slow cooker.  The addition of alfredo (I used light) makes this soup extra rich and creamy!

What to Serve with Broccoli Cheese Soup?

Broccoli and cheese soup is rich, so pair it with simple sides like a crisp salad or coleslaw, some fresh fruit, or some crusty bread and croutons. Let the soup be the star of the show!

Better with Bread: This soup is terrific when served in homemade bread bowls, or with homemade buttermilk biscuits or dinner rolls on the side. It’s even better the next day!

You can freeze Broccoli Cheese Soup!  Ladle portions into Ziploc bags, label, and lay flat so when they freeze, they will stack easily and save space!

This soup is low carb so it’s a great recipe to add into your regular rotation! It’s tough to find a good broccoli cheese soup without Velveeta so don’t forget to bookmark or pin this recipe to save it!

Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

Thick, cheesy, and addictive, this delicious soup simmers all day in the crock-pot and is ready to eat when you are, with just a few finishing touches.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or stock)
  • 6 cups fresh broccoli (about 2 heads)
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 2/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat butter in a small pan over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until tender, about 3 minutes. 

  2. Wash and chop the broccoli and place in the slow cooker. Add cooked onion, garlic powder, bay leaf, chicken broth, cream cheese and salt & pepper to taste.

  3. Cook on low 6-7 hours (or high 3-4 hours) or until broccoli is tender. Add evaporated milk and cook 30-60 minutes more. Discard bay leaf.

  4. Remove one cup of broccoli and coarsely chop. Puree remaining soup using a hand blender. (You can puree a bit to break up the broccoli or until completely smooth depending on preference).

  5. Add chopped broccoli back into the soup. Stir in all of the cheeses until melted.

  6. Garnish with additional shredded cheeses, or 1/2 tsp of pesto sauce.

For a thicker soup, create a cornstarch slurry by combining 2 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Add a little at a time to reach desired consistency. Allow to cook an additional 10 minutes.

 

Here are a few more recipes you’ll love

* Ham & Potato Soup * Bacon Corn Chowder * Cabbage Roll Soup *

The Ultimate Baked Mac and Cheese!

Baked Mac and Cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods ever! Macaroni noodles are tossed in a homemade cheese sauce, topped with a buttery crumb mixture, and baked until hot and bubbly.

Serve this homemade mac and cheese alongside a classic Meatloaf Recipe or baked chicken breasts for the most comforting meal ever.

A scoop of cheesy baked mac and cheese being served out of a white baking dish.

 

 

Macaroni and cheese is my comfort food HEAVEN. From instant pot mac and cheese to slow cooker mac and cheese, no matter how it is prepared you know I’m happy. This baked mac and cheese rivals some of my favorite methods of making macaroni and cheese because it is SO easy but tastes gourmet.

  • Cheese: Sharp cheddar gives this baked mac and cheese tons of flavor. The addition of gruyere to the cheese sauce in this recipe is next level. This simple addition will become your new secret weapon for all things mac and cheese!
  • Macaroni: I use a traditional elbow macaroni but any short pasta will work. Shells (or cavatappi) are great choices! Cook al dente as the pasta cooks more in the sauce.
  • Topping: The most perfect buttery crumb topping is one of my favorite parts of this recipe. Add in bacon, more parm, crushed crackers… pretty much anything with crunch will work!

A white pot of cheese sauce being whisked together for baked mac and cheese

How To Make Baked Mac and Cheese

When you bake mac and cheese, some of the cooking is done on the stove top before it is baked (like most casseroles). To achieve the perfect, ooey gooey creamy homemade mac and cheese, there are a few very simple tips to ensure perfection!

  1. Cook the macaroni noodles to a perfect al dente to avoid mushy noodles.
  2. Make the cheese sauce by starting with a roux.
  3. Shred your own cheese (pre-shredded cheeses have additives that can keep them from clumping which also makes it so they don’t melt smoothly).
  4. Remove your sauce from the heat before adding cheese to keep it from separating or getting grainy.
  5. Bake uncovered until golden. Do not overbake (or your baked mac and cheese will be dry).

Toss everything together, top the baked mac and cheese with the crumb topping (that I could put on everything) then bake it until golden, bubbling, and heavenly.

More Creamy Pasta Dishes

Gooey baked mac and cheese on a white plate topped with fresh parsley.

How Long To Bake Mac and Cheese

This step is important. The key to a creamy mac and cheese is to make certain you do not overbake it!

I make this baked mac and cheese recipe in a 9×13 pan or a dutch oven and bake just until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes or so. Once the macaroni is bubbling and heated and the topping is browned, you know it is ready. Everything is cooked, the baking is to meld the flavors and brown the topping.

Do not overcook or your mac and cheese will be dry.

Baked Mac and Cheese

Macaroni noodles are tossed in a creamy, cheesy sauce, topped with a buttery crumb mixture, and baked until hot and bubbly.

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 16 oz dry macaroni
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese (or swiss cheese)
  • 3/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese (divided)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Combine Panko bread crumbs, melted butter and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

  3. Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.

  4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and onion powder and cook 2 minutes.
  5. Whisk in milk, heavy cream and seasonings over medium heat. Continue to stir until mixture thickens. Let boil 1 minute while stirring.
  6. Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, gruyere cheese and remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Whisk until melted.

  7. Stir in macaroni and pour into a 9×13 pan.
  8. Top with crumb mixture and bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and topping is browned. Do not overcook.

Do not over cook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

This delicious baked mac and cheese is comfort food heaven! It is great as a side dish, but I love enjoying it for lunch as a complete meal! #spendwithpennies #macandcheese #macaroniandcheese #cheese #macaroni #casserole
This delicious baked mac and cheese is comfort food heaven! It is great as a side dish, but I love enjoying it for lunch as a complete meal! #spendwithpennies #macandcheese #macaroniandcheese #cheese #macaroni #casserole

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

CrockPot  breakfast casserole goes from the slow cooker to the table in a matter of hours! Set the Crock Pot at night and get some rest, or whip it up in the morning! Either way, breakfast is ready with all the right flavors to get everyone’s day started off right!

A combination of shredded hash browns, sausage or ham and lots of cheese is covered with eggs and “bakes” to perfection in the slow cooker. Making a CrockPot breakfast casserole recipe has never been easier!

How To Make a Breakfast Casserole (Crock Pot Version)

  • HASH BROWNS: Shredded hash browns work best in this recipe. If you prefer more ‘potato’ in your casserole, you can certainly use diced hash brown potatoes or homestyle potatoes.
  • MEAT: I most often use sausage or ham. Bacon (or really any breakfast meat) will work perfectly in this recipe!
  • CHEESE & EGGS: I love the flavor sharp cheddar adds but any cheese works. Use whole eggs or even low fat egg substitute.
  • TOPPINGS: Feel free to add salsa or Tabasco and once you’re ready to serve, a nice dollop of sour cream and some chopped green onions!

To make Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole:

  1. PREP: prep the veggies and dice the meat.
  2. WHISK: whisk the eggs, milk, dry mustard, and salt and pepper.
  3. LAYER: layer the hash browns, meat, onions, cheese, and peppers. Repeat, ending with cheese.
  4. COOK: cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or LOW for 7-8 hours.

More Breakfast Recipes

How Long to Cook a Breakfast Casserole

This slow cooker breakfast casserole recipe will take about 7-8 hours on LOW and 2 1/2 – 3 hours on HIGH in a 6QT slow cooker. If you’re working with a smaller slow cooker or doubling the recipe, the cooking time may need to be adjusted slightly to compensate.

A serving of slow cooker breakfast casserole on a white plate with a fork taking a bite out of it.

Can You Freeze CrockPot Breakfast Casserole?

Like all casseroles, the best way to freeze them is to make sure they are fully cooled before they’re put in the freezer.

Once it is fully baked, chill overnight and then the next day, remove and either slice into portions and freeze individually or freeze in sections in a plastic bag. Just reheat in the microwave! Easy to make and easy to clean up!

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

This recipe is an easy and hearty breakfast casserole that cooks while you sleep thanks to the crockpot!

  • 1 bag Frozen Hash Brown Potatoes (32 oz)
  • 1 lb bacon, sausage or ham (cooked & cumbled or diced)
  • 3 green onions (sliced)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 12 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  1. If using bacon or sausage, cook and crumble. 

  2. Grease a 6qt slow cooker. Place half of the hash browns, meat, onions, cheese and peppers. Repeat layers ending with cheese,

  3. Whisk eggs, milk, dry mustard and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Pour egg mixture over the remaining ingredients.

  4. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours or high for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Shredded (not diced) hash browns work best in this recipe. Use hash browns from frozen, defrosted hash browns will cook faster.

We love making this overnight breakfast casserole in the slow cooker or CrockPot, making a simple and easy breakfast casserole that everyone loves to wake up to! #spendwithpennies #breakfastcasserole #slowcooker #slowcookerbreakfastcasserole #overnightcasserole #wifesaver
We love making this overnight breakfast casserole in the slow cooker or CrockPot, making a simple and easy breakfast casserole that everyone loves to wake up to! #spendwithpennies #breakfastcasserole #slowcooker #slowcookerbreakfastcasserole #overnightcasserole #wifesaver

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham is the perfect pairing of meat and potatoes and a delicious twist on our favorite classic Scalloped Potatoes Recipe!  This potato casserole is a filling, family-pleasing dish that will help you use up any leftover ham.

It’s perfect alongside a homemade meatloaf or as an entree with a caesar salad!

Scalloped potatoes with ham in a white baking dish fresh from the oven topped with parsley.

How to Make Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

This scalloped potatoes and ham recipe is so basic, needing only a few main ingredients. Russet potatoes are usually the standard recommendation for scalloped potatoes, but truly, any variety will do. I often use a thinner skinned white potato and skip the peeling!

Scalloped ham and potatoes is an easy main dish, there are two easy steps involved.

1. Start by making an easy white sauce

This sauce starts with a roux. Making a roux is not difficult (it just means a mixture of fat and flour) and produces a creamy white sauce. If you’d like, you can add cheese to the sauce (making this more like a Potatoes Au Gratin).

  • Cook diced onions in butter until tender.
  • Stir in the flour and cook briefly.
  • Turn heat to low and add the liquid a little bit at a time, stirring or whisking after each addition.

Ingredients for scalloped potatoes and ham like thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, cheese sauce, and ham.

2. Layer the Casserole & Bake

  • Peel & slice the potatoes and dice the ham (we use leftover Honey Baked Ham or Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze).
  • Layer potatoes, ham and sauce in a 9×13 pan, cover and bake.
  • If you’d like, top with the shredded cheese for the last 15 minutes.

3. Rest & Serve

It’s best if this scalloped potatoes with ham casserole rests for 10-15 minutes before serving the same way you would with a lasagna recipe. This allows the potatoes to continue to soften and the sauce to set up so it’s not runny.

Assembled scalloped potatoes and ham in a baking dish ready to be topped with cheese and baked.

What to Serve with Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

Ham and scalloped potatoes are filling, we treat it like a dinner entrée . Creamy, starchy and rich, scalloped potatoes with ham combines best with sides that are fresh and green or a side salad. Serve it with steamed broccoli or roasted green beans, lightly seasoned with a little balsamic vinegar or squeeze of lemon.

If you’re having guests, dress it up a little by serving it with wine! What wine goes with ham and scalloped potatoes? Don’t stress too much about red or white! When it comes to hearty, comfort food like cheesy scalloped potatoes and ham, either will do.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes and ham and ham is a rich, creamy dish, and will pair well with wines that a little on the sweeter side that have a pleasant acidity. Try  with a white Riesling, Moscato or Lambrusco.

More Love for Spuds!

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

This scalloped potatoes and ham recipe is a filling, family-pleasing dish that will help you use up any leftover ham, especially if you need to make it stretch to feed a crowd.

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 pounds white potatoes (sliced about 1/8 inch thick)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked ham (diced)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.
  2. Cook onion and butter over medium low until onion is tender. Add thyme and flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Turn heat to low and add milk a little bit at a time whisking between each addition. The mixture will thicken but as you continue adding and whisking, it will smooth out. Stir in chicken broth, salt and pepper bring to a boil and allow to boil 1 minute.
  4. Place 1/3 of the potatoes topped with 1/3 of the ham and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat layers ending with sauce on top.
  5. Bake covered for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake 25-35 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Add the cheese during the last 15 minutes if using.

  6. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley.

Cheese Grits – The perfect side dish!

Cheese Grits are a delicious creamy side dish, perfect served alongside your Southern favorites. If you’ve never had cheesy grits, (and you’re a mac and cheese lover) you’ll absolutely love this dish!  

Shredded cheddar and butter are stirred into smooth creamy grits for the best ever side dish. Serve alongside grilled shrimp or top with Crock Pot Pulled Pork.

A heaping white bowl full of creamy cheese grits Cheese Grits

Trying to find the perfect side dish that is both delicious and easy? Cheese grits is the perfect answer!

Add shrimp or baked chicken to this cheese grits recipe for a delicious main course! Don’t let conventional thinking hold you back, use your imagination for great meal time alternatives!

What Are Grits?

Grits originated hundreds of years ago and were made by grinding a corn similar to hominy or maize, in a stone mill. Once ground it was sifted through a screen where the finer bits were used as grit meal (or cornmeal) and the coarser pieces made up the grits.

Today, they are a popular southern dish and once you try them, you’ll see exactly why. They’re rich, creamy and so delicious!

Can You Substitute Grits for Cornmeal? Yes, in  a pinch you can substitute but it will change the texture considerably and won’t be considered grits. Grits have coarser texture than cornmeal.

Shredded cheese and butter being incorporated into creamy grits in a saucepan

How to Make Cheese Grits

Cheese Grits are so easy to make! If you are wondering what cheese goes in grits, any sharp cheddar or even a Monterey jack cheese is perfect for grits. But really, any cheese you fancy will work!
  1. Prepare your grits in regular fashion. Boil water, stir in the grits and simmer.
  2.  Stir in sharp cheddar cheese, butter and a little milk until the cheese is melted and creamy.
  3. Serve immediately!

What to Serve with Cheese Grits: They’re super easy to make side dish that is the perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken or they make the perfect breakfast recipe topped with fried or poached eggs! Your family will love how creamy, cheesy and delicious they are!

More Cheesy Sides

Cheese Grits

Easy and creamy, these grits are the perfect side to serve with grilled shrimp.

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup grits (not quick/instant or stone-ground)
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter
  1. Bring water, chicken broth and garlic powder to a boil in a medium pot.
  2. Add grits and cook uncovered for 18-20 minutes or thick and creamy (or follow times listed on your grits package).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and butter until melted. (Add a splash of cream if desired).

  4. Serve hot.

If you are using stone ground grits, follow the cook time on your package replacing water with chicken broth.

We love these Cheese Grits served alongside grilled shrimp or chicken. Shredded cheddar and butter are stirred into smooth creamy grits making a delicious side dish. #spendwithpennies #cheesegrits #grits #creamygrits #sidedish #easyrecipe #easysidedish
We love these Cheese Grits served alongside grilled shrimp or chicken. Shredded cheddar and butter are stirred into smooth creamy grits making a delicious side dish. #spendwithpennies #cheesegrits #grits #creamygrits #sidedish #easyrecipe #easysidedish

Ranch 7 Layer Salad

7 Layer Salad is delicious easy salad recipe loaded up with fresh veggies and lettuce topped with an delicious creamy dressing. 

In this easy seven layer salad, we often add in leftover chicken or turkey to make it a complete meal and use a flavorful ranch style dressing!

 7 Layer Salad with fresh veggies and a homemade ranch dressing

The Perfect ‘Make-Ahead’ Salad

It’s a definite crowd pleaser, everyone seems to love a good seven layered salad which is the perfect dish for every potluck!  They’re easy and taste great, everyone seems to love them.  The best part is that you can make them way ahead of time (overnight is best)!

I’ve made a traditional salad in a trifle dish but learned it was so much easier to serve when placed in a 9×13 pan!  You get bits and bites of every little ingredient with less digging and more digging in every bite!  

Single Serving of Seven Layer Salad on Red Plate

7 Layer Salad Made With Buttermilk Ranch

A lot of layered salads call for a simple dressing made of mayonnaise and sugar but I prefer to add in fresh herbs to give it more flavor.  My favorite dressing is this homemade Buttermilk Ranch (I could actually drink it, it’s that good) so I created a version of the ranch dressing to add to this salad. You can make this with any kind of creamy dressing like Blue Cheese Dressing.

If you’d prefer, you can substitute a traditional layered salad dressing as well!

Traditional 7 Layer Salad Dressing

A traditional 7 layer salad dressing isn’t much more than mayonnaise and sugar. We add a little bit of sour cream for some tang and salt but both of those are optional.

If you’d like, add in fresh herbs (dill, parsley or basil are all great choices).

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (or to taste)

Serving 7 Layer Salad out of a 9x13 pan - a simple and quick potluck dish!

Let’s Use Those Leftovers!

This recipe is great with leftover proteins added to it, anything from turkey to leftover Roast Chicken or even ham are delicious in this recipe!

More Fresh Salads

Ranch 7 Layer Salad

This Ranch 7 Layer Salad is loaded up with fresh veggies and a creamy ranch style dressing! It’s a definite crowd pleaser!

  • 8 cups iceberg lettuce (or romaine)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (defrosted)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or yellow diced)
  • 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 3 green onions (sliced)

Dressing

  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Toppings

  • 6 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  1. Place the lettuce in 9×13 dish. Layer remaining vegetables.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients and spread over lettuce. Top with cheese and bacon.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours) before serving.

To make this a meal, add in 2 cups of leftover ham, turkey or chicken.

Ranch 7 Layer Salad is loaded up with fresh veggies, leftover turkey and a homemade ranch style dressing! It's a definite crowd pleaser!

The Best Ever Jalapeno Poppers (Baked)

Jalapeno Poppers are my obsession! Fresh Jalapenos are sliced in half and filled with a rich creamy cheese filling and topped with a crisp Panko topping. These poppers are baked until golden and bubbly for the perfect game day snack!

This easy Jalapeno Popper recipe makes the perfect bite; crispy, creamy, spicy, cheesy… and quite honestly the best appetizer ever!

A plate of jalapeno poppers ready to serve

Jalapeno Popper Dip is not only my daughter’s favorite recipe of all time, it’s the one recipe I’m asked to bring to every single gathering. I love jalapenos in any way, shape or form! Making homemade poppers is super easy and tastes way better than frozen store bought or restaurant!

How to Cut a Jalapeno

You guys, whatever you do, please please please don’t cut these without wearing gloves (and don’t touch your face). The oils in the peppers can cause burns on your hands, I speak from experience, it’s VERY painful.

The spice in jalapeños is found in the seeds and inner membranes.  To reduce the heat in this recipe, clean out all of the (light colored) inner membrane and seeds. If you like lots of heat, leave a little bit of membrane.

When I cut the jalapeños for poppers, I cut them lengthwise and try to keep the stem intact on both halves (mainly for appearance).

To cut jalapenos to make jalapeno poppers:

  1. Put on gloves!!
  2. Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise.
  3. Using a small spoon, scoop out seeds and membranes and discard.

Halved jalapenos, cheese filling and bread crumbs ready to assemble to make jalapeno poppers

 How to Make Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno Poppers have a few essentials; the jalapeno itself, a creamy filling and breading.

  • Jalapenos: Obviously!! We use fresh and slice them in half (as  mentioned above). If you have people in your group who cannot tolerate any spice (like my husband) you can also make these using baby bell peppers which don’t have heat! Make some of each!
  • Cheesy Filling: Cream cheese is the base and I add in a sharp cheddar as it has more flavor. I also add a dash of garlic powder and some chives which you can add or skip. I find green onions have a bit too much onion flavor so chives add just the right amount (or add a pinch of onion powder if you’d like). You can also add crisp cooked bacon, cilantro or your own favorites!
  • Crispy Breading: A traditional deep fried popper has a breaded coating. When making baked poppers, I find it’s not worth the time/effort to try to coat the whole jalapeno in crumbs. Instead, I make a simple Panko topping to sprinkle on top for the perfect crunch! If you’d like to make keto Jalapeno Poppers, simply skip the bread crumbs for your low carb friends!
  • Optional: There are lots of amazing things you can add to jalapeno poppers! If you’d like skip the bread crumbs and wrap them in bacon to make Bacon Wrapped Poppers! Add your favorites; onions, monterey jack cheese, ground beef or sausage. The sky really is the limit!

Jalapeno Poppers on a pan ready to bake

At a restaurant, they’re usually coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried and while I love them, I truly do not love deep frying. I dislike the smell and the mess and to be honest, I these baked jalapeno poppers taste even better than the fried ones.

How Long to Bake Jalapeno Poppers

I bake these poppers about 20 minutes, enough to soften the peppers and melt the cheese. You don’t want them too soft or they’re hard to pick up and eat!

Once baked, serve these alongside some cool ranch or blue cheese dressing.

A perfectly baked jalapeno popper recipe ready to serve

Jalapeno Poppers can be made a couple of days in advance or even prepared well ahead of time and frozen. Cook right from frozen about 25-30 minutes at 425°F.

More Jalapeno Recipes You’ll Love

Jalapeno Poppers

These easy jalapeno poppers are a game day favorite! Jalapenos are stuffed with a cheesy filling, topped with a buttery bread crumb topping and baked until golden.

  • 12 jalapeno peppers
  • 6 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar (shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons chives (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Wearing gloves, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and membranes.
  3. In a bowl mix cream cheese, garlic powder, cheddar cheese and chives (if using).

  4. In a separate bowl, combine Panko crumbs and melted butter.
  5. Fill jalapenos with the cheese mixture. Top with crumbs.
  6. Place on a baking pan and bake 18-22 minutes or until golden.

  7. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Ranch Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

This is literally the perfect party dip!  Creamy, cheesy & spicy; this Buffalo wing flavored dip is loaded with shredded chicken and tons of yummy cheese!

As much as I love a classic Buffalo Chicken Dip, this ranch inspired twist is a game day favorite too! We love the zesty addition of Buttermilk Ranch Dressing loaded with fresh herbs, onions and garlic.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip being scooped out of a bowl with cheese

How To Make Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip

  • Chicken:
    • I most often use rotisserie chicken for this recipe because it’s fast.  
    • If you need a quick option, Poached Chicken takes just about 15 minutes and is so incredibly tender and delicious.
    • Leftover Oven Baked Chicken Breasts works well in this recipe.
  • Cheesy Base:
    • Use a hand mixer for a light fluffy dip that won’t break your chips.
    • Fold in the chicken and green onions.
    • Swap out the ranch for your favorite blue cheese dressing if you’d like
    • Chopped celery adds a great crunch
  • Dippers:
    • Fresh veggies such as celery, carrots and cucumbers
    • Tortilla Chips
    • Crackers or baguette

We most often serve this Buffalo Chicken Ranch Dip with veggies, they pair perfectly with the heat and keep it low carb!!  You can also serve this with crackers or even sliced baguette (bonus points if you brush them with Homemade Garlic Butter and toast them in the oven)!

Ingredients for making buffalo chicken wing dip

Crock Pot Chicken Wing Dip

This dip is easy to make in a small Crock Pot too! Simply mix the buffalo chicken wing dip ingredients as directed and place in the slow cooker. Top with cheese and turn it onto low for 3hrs or high for about 90 minutes. Once hot, turn to warm. Times can vary slightly based on the size of your slow cooker.

So easy!

A dish of buffalo chicken dip with melted cheese ready to eat.

More Buffalo Chicken Recipes

Ranch Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

This is literally the perfect party dip! Creamy, cheesy & spicy; this Buffalo wing flavored dip is loaded with shredded chicken and tons of yummy cheese!

  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce (divided)
  • 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortillas for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing and green onions with a mixer on medium speed. Spread into the bottom of a pie plate or small casserole dish.

  3. Toss chicken with 1/2 cup buffalo sauce. Spread over cream cheese mixture and drizzle with remaining buffalo sauce.

  4. Top with cheeses and bake 25-30 minutes or until hot & bubbly.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken wing Dip With Tortilla Chips in a pie plate

Ranch Buffalo Chicken Dip is the perfect party recipe! Creamy, cheesy & spicy we love serve this with warm chips or celery sticks! (If you're a bleu cheese fan, you can certainly sub it in)!