If you've ever traveled to Texas, then you know how much we love our Tex-Mex Chile con Queso dip. It's the "Liquid Gold of the Lone Star State!"
This restaurant-quality cheese dip recipe is silky, creamy and flavorful - made with a few simple ingredients and it's ready in less than 15 minutes!
This particular recipe has a medium heat to it and consists of a combination of white American cheese, yellow American cheese, fresh pico de gallo and a few other spices.
Chile con queso, often referred to as simply "queso," is a seasoned warm cheese dip that is served in just about every good Tex-Mex restaurant from San Antonio to Dallas! In basic terms, it's melted cheese with chopped or ground chile peppers in it, thus "chile con queso," which translates in Texican dialect to "cheese dip with chiles."
It's usually served as an appetizer with salsa, crispy tortilla chips, or warm corn or flour tortillas. It makes a great sauce for tamales and enchiladas as well!
You'll find many versions of the original recipe - some use sour cream, cream cheese, jalapeno peppers, Hatch peppers, Monterey Jack cheese or plastic cheeses like Velveeta™. There are a million dip options for this creamy queso!
As a native Texan, I've certainly had my share of queso! Most of us grew up on "ordinary queso" which was a combination of melted Velveeta™ processed cheese and a can of Rotel™ tomatoes served with Fritos™ corn chips!
This was a staple dip served at every Cinco de Mayo, Sunday or Monday game day football and Super Bowl party in the Lone Star State.
This easy recipe resembles a more authentic mexican queso recipe, kicking up the flavor and texture a little bit using prepared pico de gallo - a mixture of diced tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro.
Tex-Mex queso is different than plain cheese dips due to the addition of the Southwestern spices.
Why this recipe works
- This homemade, restaurant-quality queso dip recipe features good quality, all-natural ingredients - made without Velveeta processed cheese or Rotel tomatoes!
- Versatile - make it as mild or spicy as you like: if you want to add a little heat to your queso, add chile powder, jalapenos or a hint of cayenne pepper.
- Using prepared pico de gallo cuts down on time! No seeding chile peppers, dicing or chopping required!
- The inclusion of corn starch serves as a thickening and binding agent, which results in a super smooth cheese dip!
The best cheese for queso
I recommend using a combination of soft American cheeses because they melt beautifully! The smoothness and silkiness of the melted cheese truly depends upon the kind of cheese you use and how you melt it (stove top method is the best way!)
I've also experimented with this cheese dip recipe using Monterey Jack cheese, but I found it a bit bland.
Use a full-fat cheese; low-fat cheeses don't melt well - they get oily and often separate under heat.
Go to the deli counter at your local grocery store and get a block of white American cheese and a block of yellow American cheese or, Pepper Jack cheese if you like your queso a bit spicy. (You'll need about ½ a pound of cheese in total. I used ¼ pound of white and ¼ pound of yellow American cheese.)
If you prefer Mexican cheeses, consider a high-quality Mexican melting cheese. Supremo™ makes a good Chihuahua cheese as does Cacique™ brand cheeses.
What you'll need for the best Tex-Mex Chile con Queso
Tex-Mex queso uses real cheese! Go by the deli in your grocery store and get ¼ pound each of yellow American cheese and white American cheese.
Swing by the produce section and pick up a premade container of fresh pico de gallo. You'll also need chicken broth, evaporated milk, corn starch, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chile powder and a little salt.
NOTE: DO NOT substitute the fresh pico de gallo with salsa! I tried it and it didn't turn out good at all.
About the cheese: Processed block cheeses and pre-shredded cheeses don't melt well; in fact, they often separate due to the additives in them. So go to the deli and get them to slice you a chunk of white and yellow American cheese.
How to make it
I recommend making a big bowl of cheese dip on the stove top. The American cheese melts beautifully, so it's not necessary to cook it in a double boiler. You can transfer this cheese sauce in a crock pot if you're serving it to a group.
In a medium saucepan, saute butter and pico de gallo. In a medium bowl, combine evaporated milk with cornstarch; whisk together until it's lump free. Stir chicken broth into the evaporated milk; combine and pour this mixture into the saucepan with the pico.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until it begins to thicken.
Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat to low and add in the shredded cheeses. Continue to simmer until all the cheese melts. Remove pan from heat; add in dry seasonings; stir well and serve with your favorite tortilla chips!
The heat index for this recipe is "medium." I use "medium heat" fresh pico that is prepared at the grocery store. If you prefer a milder version, be sure to get "mild" and taste the queso before you add the chile powder.
•Most Mexican restaurants use a combination of American and Mexican melting cheeses. American cheeses melt beautifully, as do some of the Mexican melting cheeses.
•Use a full-fat cheese; low-fat cheeses don't melt well - they get oily and often separate under heat.
•Do not use pre-shredded cheeses as they contain an anti-caking coating which prevents the cheese from melting fully.
Melting cheeses, evaporated milk, cornstarch, chicken broth, chiles, onions and diced tomatoes.
Use white American or white Mexican cheeses and add green chiles, along with ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chile powder and a pinch of salt.
You'll need ½ pound of cheese for this recipe; I used ¼ pound of white American cheese and ¼ pound of yellow American cheese then shredded them. This came out to about 2 cups of shredded cheese total.
Garnishes for queso
There's a million ways to garnish your chile con queso! Some folks put a spoonful of pico de gallo on top, where others sprinkle a little chile powder, chopped green onions, cilantro, or make a one of Texas' great recipes, the "Bob Armstrong Queso dip" with a hearty scoop of guacamole and sour cream on top!
Tex-Mex Queso Blanco dip -also known as white queso dip is a version of Tex-Mex Chile con queso that uses only white cheeses - a combination of Monterey Jack , white American cheese, or white melting Mexican cheese like Chihuahua cheese.
Queso with ground beef - if you want a heartier cheese dip, add in a little seasoned ground beef
Variety of dip options include adding chile peppers, finely chopped sweet bell peppers or red peppers, cilantro, parsley or smoked paprika!
Storage and reheating
This cheesy dip will thicken upon cooling and/or refrigeration. Reheat the Tex-Mex Chile con Queso on the stovetop on low heat.
If you need to thin it, add a little water or chicken broth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freezing is not recommended.
Homemade Tex-Mex Chile con Queso doesn't take a long time to make! It truly is the best Tex-Mex dip in the Lone Star State - serve it up with your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy! I hope you'll find this queso as good, if not better, than the dip at your favorite Mexican restaurant!
More Tex-Mex recipes
- Sweet Corn Tomalito
- Texas Chili
- Tex-Mex Sour Cream Enchilada Sauce
- Mexican Michelada Cocktail
- Sweet Chipotle Corn Casserole
- Easy Red Enchilada Sauce
- Authentic Mexican Rice
If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and a rating! I love to hear from you!
Tex-Mex Chile con Queso
- 1 cup shredded white American cheese See Recipe Notes (about ¼ pound)
- 1 cup shredded yellow American cheese See Recipe Notes (about ¼ pound)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup prepared fresh pico de gallo, medium heat (See Recipe Notes)
- ¾ cup evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Shred 1 cup of each cheese and set aside1 cup shredded white American cheese, 1 cup shredded yellow American cheese
- In a medium saucepan on low heat, melt butter and add pico de gallo to saucepan; saute for 3 minutes1 tablespoon butter, ¼ cup prepared fresh pico de gallo, medium heat
- In a medium bowl, combine evaporated milk and cornstarch; whisk together until lump-free, then add in the chicken broth; stir till blended¾ cup evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon corn starch, ½ cup chicken broth
- Pour the evaporated milk mixture into the saucepan with the pico de gallo; turn heat to medium-high and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until sauce begins to thicken. This takes about 5-6 minutes.
- Once sauce begins to thicken, turn the heat to low and add shredded cheeses; continue to stir until you have a smooth mixture; remove pan from heat
- Off heat, add in ground cumin, onion powder, chile powder and garlic powder; use a whisk to to fully incorporate these spices½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon chile powder
- Add salt to taste; garnish with chopped cilantro, a scoop of pico de gallo and serve¼ teaspoon salt