Person using hand mixer to mix white queso in glass bowl

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE QUESO

Whether you’re hosting on game day or fondue night, restaurant style queso dip is sure to draw a crowd. This Tex-Mex favorite is simple to make and tailor to your tastes. Read on to learn how to make queso, then discover how to choose the right cheese and find inspiration for queso dip pairings. 

WHAT IS QUESO DIP?

Queso dip—sometimes called chile con queso—is a velvety, melted cheese fondue typically served alongside tortilla chips. This Tex-Mex dip has been around in some form for more than a century in the U.S., but today, queso can take on a variety of forms. It’s typically flecked with flavorful ingredients like jalapeno, garlic, chili powder and tomatoes, but can be customized to suit a wide variety of flavor palates. Most queso dips use white or yellow American cheese, which melts easily, and may incorporate colby jack, pepper jack or monterey jack cheese to add unique flavors or textures.

Close-up of bowl of queso with cheese sprinkled on top and mixed-in veggies Close-up of bowl of queso with cheese sprinkled on top and mixed-in veggies

QUESO DIP RECIPE

Homemade queso dip is simple to make and bound to be a crowd pleaser for any gathering. Follow the steps below to create rich, flavorful queso infused with your preferred spices and mix-ins. For a dairy-free alternative, learn how to make this vegan queso dip.  

 INGREDIENTS
  • White American cheese (or cheese of your choice)

  • Jalapeno peppers or green chillies

  • Minced garlic

  • Milk or cream

  • Diced tomatoes

  • Chili powder

  • Onions

  • Shredded cheese (monterey jack, pepper jack, colby jack or other)

  • Choice of crumbled meat (optional)

  • Garnish (optional)

YIELDS
  • 15 Servings
PREP TIME
  • 15 minutes
COOK TIME
  • 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME
  • 30 minutes
Chickpeas in bowl next to whole garlic and dried herbs

STEP 1: PREPARE ADD-INS

Prepare queso dip add-ins before you begin melting cheese. Use the KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor with Dicing Kit to dice add-ins like peppers or onions. Or, mince garlic and other fresh herbs by fitting the food processor with the multi-purpose blade and using the high or pulse setting until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You’ll need to keep a close eye on the cheese as it melts, so double check that all add-ins are prepped and ready prior to heating.

Wood block cutting board with cheese blocks and a bowl of vine tomatoes on top

STEP 2: PREPARE CHEESE BEFORE MELTING

Cut cheese into ½ inch cubes to help it heat evenly and prevent burning. To shred other cheese variations that you’ll add in later, prepare a KitchenAid® food processor with the reversible slicing/shredding disc so the small, raised shredded blades are facing up. Cut cheese to fit in the feed tube and shred by applying even pressure with the food pusher. Set cubed and shredded cheese aside.

 

Small pitcher of milk on counter with fresh ingredients

STEP 3: HEAT MILK

Heat your choice of milk or cream over medium to high heat in a small saucepan. Once the milk starts to simmer (but before it boils) immediately reduce the heat to a low setting.  

 Person using food processor to process ingredients

STEP 4: STIR IN CHEESE

Begin adding cubed cheese into the saucepan in batches, whisking continuously as cheese melts. Once cubed cheese is completely melted, continue whisking while adding any other shredded cheese variations to your mix. 

Chopped tomato and peppers on cutting board next to bowls of spices

STEP 5: ADD MIX-INS

Once all cheese is melted and smooth, stir in any spices, peppers, herbs or crumbled meats. Remove the saucepan from the stovetop and top queso with any desired garnishes.

Person dipping chips into bowl homemade queso with fresh tomatoes on top

STEP 6: SERVE AND KEEP WARM

Pair the queso with your choice of appetizers and enjoy immediately, or transfer it to a slow cooker on the “keep warm” setting to help prevent ingredients from clumping or separating. 

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Shredded cheese sitting in work bowl of silver food processor on the counter with tomatoes, salad and other ingredients Shredded cheese sitting in work bowl of silver food processor on the counter with tomatoes, salad and other ingredients

WHAT CHEESE IS IN QUESO?

Queso dip derives its rich, creamy texture from fresh cheeses that melt easily and evenly, like the pepper jack and Monterey Jack cheeses in this queso fundido with chorizo recipe. White and yellow American cheese or processed cheeses like Velveeta are common in queso dishes, but you can also opt for Mexican cheeses like asadero, queso de oaxaca or queso fresco. For a more complex combination of flavors and textures, try mixing in small amounts of pepper, monterey or colby jack cheese. 

CAN YOU MAKE QUESO WITH SHREDDED CHEESE?

Most queso recipes require shredding a block of cheese before adding it to the pot for melting, but pre-packaged shredded cheeses is less likely to create a rich and creamy dip texture. Pre-packaged cheese is usually prepared with cellulose—an agent preventing cheese from caking together—that won’t melt easily.

WHAT ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF QUESO DIP?

Queso dip typically falls into one of two categories—orange and white—with the color of queso solely dependent on which type of cheese is used as the base. Mexican restaurants most often serve white queso, known as queso blanco, but recipes vary widely. Homemade queso can be customized to your preferences with cheese type, spices, herbs, peppers and even meat additives.

Close-up of homemade soft pretzels in a variety of flavors Close-up of homemade soft pretzels in a variety of flavors

WHAT CAN YOU EAT WITH QUESO?

Tortilla chips likely come to mind when you think of queso pairings, but possibilities for dipping or drizzling with queso expand beyond traditional chips and dip. Try using queso as a fondue for buttery soft pretzels, rosemary baked potato chips, pita bread or root vegetable fries. Or, drizzle homemade queso on carne asada tacos with flour tortillas, mole and guacamole enchiladas or Tex-Mex spiced tuna tartare with jalapeño aioli.  

CAN YOU FREEZE QUESO DIP?

You can save extra queso dip for four to six months in the freezer. Allow dip to cool completely before storage, then transfer it into a freezer-safe storage container with an airtight lid. You might consider freezing dip in small portion sizes so you only thaw as much as you plan to use immediately. Be sure to mark the container with the freeze date so you can dispose of it when necessary, and store it in temperatures at or below 0° F.

CAN YOU REHEAT QUESO?

Reheating homemade queso requires two steps: defrosting and reheating. Begin defrosting your dip by placing it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours, or placing dip in a microwave-safe dish and heating it for 30 seconds at a time until it’s just thawed. Defrosted queso may appear separated or lumpy, but properly heating and stirring should recombine ingredients. Once it’s thawed, pour the dip into a pan and reheat it on a low heat setting on your stove top, stirring continuously. Remove queso from the heat once it starts to simmer and serve it immediately.

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