Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (2024)

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These Simple Cheesy Leeks are a delightful dish of tender steamed and pan-fried leeks smothered in a creamy cheese sauce. It’s a great alternative side dish to the more common cauliflower cheese and this classic roux based recipe for leeks in cheese sauce is simple to make with my easy step-by-step instructions.

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I’ve said that these cheesy leeks are an alternative to cauliflower cheese but I think it might actually just be me that is much more familiar with cauli cheese rather than the alternatives like broccoli cheese or cheesy leeks. It just wasn’t a dish I grew up but it’s now in regular rotation. What I can’t work out is why calling it “Leeks Cheese” sounds so horribly wrong!

The cheese sauce I use is exactly the same as what I use in my other cheese sauce covered veg recipes. And also my baked macaroni cheese. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?! It is a traditional roux based béchamel sauce. Butter and flour are cooked together then milk and the cheese is added. Mustard adds an extra tang too.

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Jump to…

  • How to Serve Cheesy Leeks
  • Ingredients
    • Get Ahead
    • Leftover Leeks in Cheese Sauce
    • Cheesy Leeks Tips
    • More Cheesy Recipes
    • Full Step-By-Step Recipe

    How to Serve Cheesy Leeks

    Roast dinners are really where leeks in cheese sauce belong for me. In theory a cheese sauce based side served along with gravy just sounds quite wrong. But the reality is simply delicious! I’ve served with the following in the images on this page:

    • Air fried half leg of lamb and gravy
    • Steamed broccoli
    • Air fried cauliflower
    • Air fried roasted sweet potatoes
    • Simple buttered white cabbage
    • Mint and redcurrant sauces

    You can find more of my roast dinner recipes in my archive.

    Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (3)

    Ingredients

    Leeks

    You can buy leeks in their totally natural state with all of their dark green outer leaves intact or it is very common for supermarkets to sell them pretty well prepared and almost ready to go. I’ve included instructions for how to fully prepare the leeks so you can skip to whatever step you need.

    The most important thing when preparing leeks is to make sure they are well cleaned. To do this I would usually cut the leek lengthways and run it under the tap whilst making sure each layer is free from dirt and grit. But for this recipe, we want the leek to be left intact and cut into rounds. Soaking them and swishing in water before lifting them out is the answer to this.

    You can also buy ready sliced fresh or frozen leeks. Both can absolutely be used in this recipe. Frozen leeks can go straight in the pan but don’t add any water. Just allow them to defrost and steam in their own water.

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    Cheese

    I use three different cheeses in my cheese sauce. Each brings something just a little different.

    Cream Cheese – This adds a creamy tang and makes the sauce even more creamy and rich. I tend to use a low fat variety but you can use any type.

    Grated Cheese – Something like cheddar, double Gloucester or red Leicester. This is where the flavour is really going to come from. Choose whether you use a mild or more mature option depending on your preference.

    If you don’t have grated or can’t be bothered to grate a block, you can just cut it into small chunks and add to the sauce – it will melt with no issue.

    Mozzarella – This is a great melting cheese. It gives the dish a lovely texture. I generally use pre-grated mozzarella as it’s much dryer than fresh mozzarella. You don’t really want to add extra moisture to the dish so this is ideal.

    If you don’t have mozzarella, simply use more of the other cheese you’re using.

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    Mustard

    I’m not the world’s biggest mustard fan but I always use some in my cheese sauces. It compliments the cheese flavour and adds an extra flavour dimension.

    My first choice is to use French Dijon mustard. It has a mild distinctive flavour that I really like. My second choice is fiery English mustard (powder or paste) followed by wholegrain. I do often mix and match and use more than one. You can really use whichever is your preference. And if you are really anti-mustard, just leave it out.

    Milk

    You can also be pretty breezy with the milk you use. I tend to use skimmed milk because that is what I have and generally use. But semi-or whole milk will also be great. If you want to add extra decadence, you can always replace a little of the milk with single (light) or double (heavy) cream.

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    Be Flexible

    Make individual cheesy leeks by dividing the mixture between smaller baking dishes. They will need cooking for slightly less time

    Add pre-cooked crispy bacon to the leeks for an extra flavour hit.

    Make the sauce a little thinner and use the unbaked cheese and leek sauce as a pasta sauce.

    To make the cheesy leeks extra cheesy, add parmesan or a similarly strong flavoured hard cheese to the sauce and/or grate over the top of the cooked dish.

    For something totally different, bake in a blind baked pastry case instead of a dish to make a delicious and different tart

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    Vegetarian or Vegan Cheesy Leeks

    This recipe is suitable for vegetarians as written provided you ensure that the cheeses you are using are suitable for vegetarian.

    To make a vegan version will require a lot of swaps. The butter, all the cheeses and the milk will all need to be replaced with plant-based alternatives. I’m not personally convinced about any of these alternatives and the finished dish will not taste the same. It would probably be wise to look for a dedicated vegan leeks in cheese sauce recipe.

    Make Allergy Friendly Leeks in Cheese Sauce

    This recipe is free from egg and nuts.

    Gluten Free: The flour used to make the base of the cheese sauce is the only element of the recipe that contains gluten. You can easily replace this with a gluten free flour blend.

    Alternatively you can use cornflour (corn starch) mixed with a little cold milk to thicken the sauce. Melt the butter and heat the milk and mustard together then add the cornflour. Then add the cheeses. If you add the cheeses to the un-thickened milk, it can become very grainy and not have a pleasant texture.

    Dairy Free: This recipe is dairy heavy and my same comments apply as with adapting the recipe to make it vegan. It is probably better to look for a dedicated dairy-free recipe.

    Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.

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    Get Ahead

    I’ve included instructions for making the cheese sauce in advance and how to correctly store it so it doesn’t form a skin. This can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days and then reheated gently before adding to the leeks.

    You can also make up the whole dish and then wrap it well and refrigerate until you want to cook it. Again it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. It is a good idea to take it out a good hour before you are intending to cook it so it can come to room temperature. You don’t want the middle to still be cold while the cheese on top overcooks.

    I don’t recommend freezing the cheese sauce or unbaked dish. The cheese sauce has a tendency of separating when defrosting. You can try it but I find it a bit of a risk.

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    Leftover Leeks in Cheese Sauce

    Leftovers will last several days in the fridge and can easily be reheated in the microwave. Small portions also reheat very well in an air fryer. Or you can stir in a saucepan if you are not stressed about retaining the crispy cheese topping.

    You can repurpose the dish by thinning the sauce and making it into a pasta dish. Or try using it as the base of my Leftover Roast Dinner Pizza in place of the cauliflower cheese.

    Cheesy Leeks Tips

    You can simply boil or steam the leek rounds before adding the cheese sauce. But I like to add that extra layer of flavour by cooking them in a little butter so don’t skip this step if you can.

    Don’t be tempted to add the milk to the pan too quickly. Adding it a little at a time and making sure it is fully absorbed before adding more will make sure it is lump free and beautifully smooth.

    I try to be nice and gentle when stirring the leeks into the sauce. Whilst they will naturally break up some, I like to try and keep them a little on the chunky side.

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    Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?

    Still Have Questions?

    Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.

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    More Cheesy Recipes

    The Recipe

    Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce Recipe)

    These Simple Cheesy Leeks are a delightful dish of tender steamed and pan-fried leeks smothered in a creamy cheese sauce. It's a great alternative side dish to the more common cauliflower cheese and this classic roux based recipe for leeks in cheese sauce is simple to make with my easy step-by-step instructions.

    5 from 4 votes

    Print Recipe Pin Recipe Bookmark

    Prep Time10 minutes mins

    Cook Time50 minutes mins

    Total Time1 hour hr

    Ingredients

    • 500 g Leek - prepared
    • 10 g Salted Butter
    • 2 tsp Vegetable Oil
    • 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
    • 200 ml Water

    For The Cheese Sauce

    • 100 g Grated Cheese - eg Cheddar, Double Gloucester, Red Leicester
    • 35 g Grated Mozzarella
    • 50 g Cream Cheese
    • 30 g Salted Butter
    • 30 g Plain Flour (All Purpose)
    • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
    • 375 ml Milk
    • 1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes

    Instructions

    Make the Cheese Sauce

    • Note – If you are intending to make and bake this straight away, skip to the preparing the leek stage and then make the cheese sauce while it's boiling.

    • Prepare your cheeses. I used 100g Red Leicester Cheese, 35g Grated Mozzarella and 50g Cream Cheese.

      If the hard cheeses are not already grated/shredded, do this now. Set aside roughly 50g of the hard cheeses for the topping

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    • Add 30g Salted Butter and 30g Plain Flour to a medium saucepan. Melt the butter and store in the flour over a medium heat.

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (19)

    • Add 2tsp Dijon Mustard and mix to a thick paste.

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (20)

    • Add 375ml Milk a small amount at a time.

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    • Give the milk a moment to warm in the pan before beating it into the butter/flour mix.

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (22)

    • Keep adding more milk once each addition is fully absorbed.

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    • Continue until all the milk is added and the sauce is smooth and lump free.

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    • Add the cheeses and stir until they are all melted and fully combined, (Don’t forget to reserve some of the cheese for the topping – it is easy to add by mistake).

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    • Add 1tbsp Sea Salt Flakes a little at a time. Keep tasting the sauce until the seasoning is to your taste. Remember that the flavour will be mellowed slightly by the addition of the leeks which are also seasoned so under rather than over-season.

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    • If you are making the sauce in advance, pour it into an airtight container and cover with clingfilm. Make sure that the clingfilm is touching the sauce to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

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    Prepare and Clean the Leeks

    • Prepare roughly 700g Leeks. You may need a little more or less depending on how pre-prepared the leeks are and their size. You are looking to end up with around 500g Prepared Leeks.

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    • Use a sharp knife to trim off the root and carefully remove the outer leaf. If they are especially tough, you may wish to remove further leaves.

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    • Slice the leek starting from the white part into roughly 1cm/1½" rounds. Stop once you get to the top. thicker part. Place the cut leek into a large mixing bowl.

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    • Remove any more outer leaves as needed and continue cutting the more tender inner parts into rounds.

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    • Keep adding the cut pieces to the bowl and repeat with the remaining leeks.

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    • Fill the bowl with cold water and use your hand to gently swish the leeks around in the water. Allow them to sit for 5 minutes. This will help dislodge any bit of dirt or grit and allow it to sink to the bottom.

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    • Use your hands or a slotted spoon to remove the leek from the bowl onto a towel. You don't want to tip the water out or use a colander as you will also mix any dirt back into the leeks.

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    Cook the Leeks

    • Put a kettle onto boil.

    • Add roughly 10g Salted Butter and 2 tsp Vegetable Oil to a large frying pan. Allow this to start melting over a medium high heat.

    • Add the drained leek rounds along with 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes and roughly 200ml Water from the boiled kettle.

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    • Bring the water to a boil in the pan then add the lid, turn the heat down a little and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

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    • Take the lid off and allow any remaining water to boil away and the leeks to start browning a little underneath. This should take no more than 5 minutes.

      Don't be tempted to stir the leeks as you don't really want them to break up. You can gently move them around the pan a little for even cooking.

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    Assemble & Bake the Cauliflower Cheese

    • Preheat the oven to 200c fan/220c/390f.

    • Pour around ¾ of the warm cheese sauce over the cooked leeks.

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    • Gently stir until all of the leeks are coated in the sauce,

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    • Transfer the mix into the baking dish.

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    • Spoon over the remaining sauce, trying to keep it even.

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    • Sprinkle over the reserved cheese.

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    • Bake for 20 minutes until piping hot all the way through and the top is golden.

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    • If you have made this in advance and are cooking from room temperature, cook at a slightly lower temperature for 25-30 minutes.

    • Serve hot!

    Nutrition (Approx)

    Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 1441mg | Potassium: 697mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 88mg | Calcium: 274mg | Iron: 1mg

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    Reader Interactions

    Comments

    1. Cat says

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (44)
      I’m not the biggest fan of cauliflower cheese but these leeks were right up my street! Now I don’t have to miss out on cheesy goodness with my roast dinners!

      Reply

    2. Janice says

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (45)
      What a gorgeous side dish! We had it with roast lamb and really enjoyed it.

      Reply

    3. Sisley says

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (46)
      Cheesy makes all vegetables better! These were really enjoyed by the family.

      Reply

    4. Lesley says

      Simple Cheesy Leeks (Leeks in Cheese Sauce) (47)
      Leeks bound in a cheesy sauce, it was delicious, so simple but so full of flavour.

      Reply

    Leave a Reply

    5 from 4 votes

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