• Yield: About 5 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 15 mins

Ingredients (4)

  • 1/2 cup cold wheat beer or water
  • 14 grams sodium citrate
  • 7 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)

Making nachos at home gives you the freedom to use a tastier, fancier cheese instead of processed nacho cheese, but those nicer cheeses quickly harden, or separate and become gloppy. To keep your melted cheese perfectly smooth, Scott Heimendinger, director of applied research for Modernist Cuisine, shares this trick from the Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook: Simply add sodium citrate.

What to buy: Sodium citrate, or sour salt, is an emulsifying sodium salt that comes from citric acid. It has a sour taste and is usually used as a food additive for preserving or flavoring. You can buy it online.

Special equipment: You’ll need a gram scale to measure the sodium citrate for this recipe. You’ll also need an immersion blender to combine the cheeses.

Click here to watch Scott make this easy nacho cheese in the premiere episode of our MDRN KTCHN video series.


  1. Place the beer or water in a large saucepan, add the sodium citrate, and stir until dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Gradually add both cheeses to the simmering liquid, using an immersion blender to combine after each addition, until all of the cheese is melted and smooth. Use immediately.