why does my cheese sauce curdle?

i’ve never had this problem before. but the last two times i’ve made cheese sauce, it curdled. i was more upset about the second one, it was for christmas dinner… the first christmas dinner i’ve ever made.
any suggestions?
the reason why a lot of sauces break is because you either aren’t using it right away (like butter sauces) or the high heat that you’ve put it on (like Alfredo sauce).

If you’re keeping it warm, put it on a lower temp, and stir it every once in a while. I don’t know what type of thickening agent you’re using, but try making a roux. They hold sauces a lot better in my experience and you can always make enough roux and keep it out at room temp until you need it. That, and they don’t go bad!

Roux is easy to make, but has three different ways to cook it. You have a light roux, medium, and dark. Each one is for a ‘different’ type of sauce. Light roux’s are for a more lighter, white sauce and medium for regular.

The ingredients to make a roux is simple: equal amounts of both butter and flour, but in weight. So 1 oz of butter to 1 oz of flour. You melt the butter (and you don’t need to clarify it although it helps) at a low heat, and then whisk the flour in. Keep whisking until you see the colors changing to an almost light nutty color. You then place it in a stain less steel bowl and place that bowl over an ice bath so the roux stops cooking.

How you mix this into a sauce is take an amount of roux you want to use, place it in a bowl, and add part of the hot liquid (i.e. the type of brother you’re using for the sauce) into the roux until it dissolves, and then place it into the sauce.
Indeed… a cheese sauce is simply a bechamel sauce, with cheese melted into it… the cheese should never come to a boil, or you risk breaking the sauce.

I know some of you will wince at this notion… but another trick to stabilizing a cheese sauce is to add in a small amount of processed cheese (Velveeta). Not enough to alter the taste, but just enough to bind. Obviously, this only works for a yellow cheese sauce.
I don’t employ this method usually, but I have seen this technique used with great success… especially in large batches of mac/cheese, that would have otherwise resulted in an oil slick. Just something to keep in your bag of tricks.
I liken the effect to that in candy making, where a little corn syrup will keep your melted sugar from crystallizing…

Indeed… a cheese sauce is simply a bechamel sauce, with cheese melted into it… the cheese should never come to a boil, or you risk breaking the sauce.

I know some of you will wince at this notion… but another trick to stabilizing a cheese sauce is to add in a small amount of processed cheese (Velveeta). Not enough to alter the taste, but just enough to bind. Obviously, this only works for a yellow cheese sauce.
I don’t employ this method usually, but I have seen this technique used with great success… especially in large batches of mac/cheese, that would have otherwise resulted in an oil slick. Just something to keep in your bag of tricks.
I liken the effect to that in candy making, where a little corn syrup will keep your melted sugar from crystallizing…

*winces as he buys a "jar" of cheese "just in case" now that he knows this tip*
You can also use Alouette Creme de Brie in place of Velveeta for a white cheese sauce. In this case, the reason to use sparingly is the flavor, not the quality.
Also, if you use a cheese that is too fatty, the sauce might not be able to handle all the extra grease and your roux is toast. So if you switched cheeses, bear that in mind.

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