The Best Time To Add Jalapeños To Nacho Sauce, According To An Expert

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Neglecting to add jalapeños is one of the biggest mistakes to avoid when making nacho cheese sauce. Another misstep is adding them at the wrong time. Luckily, Mashed spoke to an expert who shared his advice on the best time to spice up your sauce. According to Keyshawn Hudson, content creator and author of "Food Family Repeat," jalapeños should be added "during the cooking process, once the cheese has melted and the base sauce is well combined."

Adding the peppers too early or too late can impact the dip's overall flavor. If you slice up and throw the jalapeños in at the very end, for example, the taste won't be infused into the sauce throughout the cooking process. Instead, you'll end up with a mild sauce with spicy pepper chunks floating in it, overwhelming the overall flavor if one lands on your tongue. Achieving this balance is precisely why Hudson recommends adding your jalapeños more toward the end of the cooking process. In his words, "This allows the flavors of the jalapeños to infuse into the sauce without overpowering it."

Which peppers can you use instead of jalapeños?

If you're not one for spice, Keyshawn Hudson has advice for you, as well: "For a milder flavor," he says, "remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeños before adding them to the sauce." Alternatively, you can switch the jalapeños out altogether for something gentler (or hotter, if you're feeling brave). Smoked paprika, for example, can impart a similar kind of subtle warmth without the heat, while dried bell peppers are more sweet than spicy. Alternatively, pick up some serrano peppers for a slight increase in heat or habaneros for a delightful combination of fruitiness and kick.

On the other hand, if you prefer a smoother texture, you can opt for a creamy nacho cheese recipe and add some kick with brine from a jar of jalapeños. For a super smooth end-product, shred the cheese yourself for homemade nachos instead of picking up the pre-shredded stuff. Combining your even cheesier sauce with the deliciousness imparted from the peppers, added after the sauce has combined per Hudson's advice, will make your chip-and-dip experience nothing short of heavenly.