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Chile con Queso

The parade of Mexican-inspired food for Cinco de Mayo continues! I don’t know about you, but I find it nearly impossible to celebrate a holiday or throw a party without including at least one type of dip. Dip is where it’s at, right? There’s nothing better than plunging a chip into a creamy, cheesy bowl of deliciousness. The cheesier, the better, which is what makes queso so darn addicting. As you may have guessed from its name, it includes lots and lots of cheese. This is sometimes known simply as “queso” on some restaurant menus, but the concept is the same – a bowl of melted cheese along with chiles and tomatoes. While the shortcut method to chile con queso is usually a block of Velveeta and a can of Rotel, I’ve often times nuked cream cheese and salsa together. No doubt about it – this from-scratch chile con queso puts both of those to shame. It’s thick, creamy, smooth, and packed with flavor and a little a spice.

The dip starts with a quick saute of jalapeño and serrano peppers, onion, and garlic, and then moves on to a bechamel sauce base. The chile con queso gets finished off with milk, cilantro, tomatoes, and lots of cheese. I used a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack, but the recipe is very forgiving, and as long as it’s a good melting cheese, it will be awesome in this recipe.

We were able to polish this off in two or three sittings, and had we not eaten dinner, I’m sure we could have finished it off much faster! I love all the cheese, the little bit of a spicy kick, and the flavor from the tomatoes and cilantro. It’s perfect and should definitely be on your short list of dip recipes. It’s a Cinco de Mayo necessity, for sure!

Two years ago: Pecan Sandies

Chile con Queso

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup chopped yellow onion
2 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (about 1 cup)
12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
½ cup sour cream


1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, serrano chiles, and jalapeño, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

2. Whisk the flour into the pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly pour the milk into the pan while whisking, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.

3. Reduce the heat to low, and add the grated cheeses a ¼ cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is completely melted. Repeat until all of the cheese has been added. Stir in the sour cream until completely combined. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Leftovers (if you have any!) can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and then reheated when you're ready to serve.

(Recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

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57 Responses to “Chile con Queso”

  1. Izzy V. on May 2, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I was totally just thinking how much I wanted to make Chile con Queso last night! I made a point to look up a recipe in the morning, and here you’ve posted what looks like a great one! What luck :)


  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 2, 2012 at 1:11 am

    I want that dip, right now. Oh, that looks soooo good!


  3. Lindsey on May 2, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I love the homesick Texan! And who doesn’t love queso? I must say, every single time I make a recipe off your site, it turns out perfectly. This will be no exception!


  4. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on May 2, 2012 at 2:06 am

    I love cheese dips! And I am not a fan of velveeta at all so this homemade version looks so perfectly delicious!


  5. Coleens Recipes on May 2, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Perfect recipe post for this week, absolutely delicious!!


  6. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on May 2, 2012 at 3:24 am

    This dip sounds and looks so good that I think I would need a big spoon along with the tortilla chips.


  7. Kiri W. on May 2, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I am not hugely into queso, but my wife would be a happy woman if I made this. Looks very creamy!


  8. Vera on May 2, 2012 at 6:44 am

    yum! have you ever done your own tortilla chips? we are on this kick now, i wont buy them any more..just buy corn or flour tortilla and cut them in to triangles, fry in a tiny bit of peanut or corn oil and dust with sea salt…delish!~ :) would go great with the homemade dip!!!


    • Michelle on May 2nd, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Ooh, no, I haven’t done my own chips. Sounds yummy!


    • charlotte on November 7th, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      you could go a step further and make your own tortillas first…


  9. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on May 2, 2012 at 6:46 am

    I love chili con queso dip, but I never made it from scratch. As a kid my Mom would make the traditional dish by mixing Velvetta and Salsa together. Yum! I may have to splurge and try your recipe out!!!


  10. Jennifer on May 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I could eat buckets of this. Never mind that my body would hate me!


  11. Katrina on May 2, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Yum! This would pair so nicely with almost anything!! Love it!


  12. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on May 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I have honestly never had queso, but I think I will have to add this to my Cinco de Mayo party menu, it looks so good!


  13. Laura @ The Salty Kitchen on May 2, 2012 at 8:44 am

    It’s like you read my mind. I have been wanting to make some homemade queso for quite some time, and now I can with your help! I might need a straw, though….it’ll just be easier to slurp it up.


  14. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids on May 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

    This looks perfect. I have been wanting to find a creamy queso that does not use Velveeta, and it looks like I have finally accomplished that mission. I cannot wait to make it.


  15. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on May 2, 2012 at 8:57 am

    love queso dip!!


  16. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 2, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Oh this looks good, and so comforting!!! I have to make this asap!


  17. Angie @ Big Bear's Wife on May 2, 2012 at 10:09 am

    My brother will be thrilled with this!


  18. Heather on May 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Think this would hold up ok if I threw it in a mini crock pot and took it to a party?


  19. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite on May 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

    looooove queso! I could eat it all the time :) I also cannot possibly have a party without dip. It’s a must for a good time.


  20. Kara D on May 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

    This looks delicious! :) I can’t wait to try it, thanks for sharing the recipe!


  21. Cassie on May 2, 2012 at 11:32 am

    This is my biggest weakness. Love it.


  22. Christy from Life of a Modern Housewife on May 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Love Chili Con Queso!!! Looks yummy!



  23. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking on May 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Oh this looks so delicious!!


  24. Tracey on May 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    This sounds so good, it would be incredibly dangerous to have at my house! We’re not having a Cinco de Mayo get together, but I think I need to find another excuse to have people over to make this, and soon :)


  25. Lisa @ Sweet 2 Eat Baking on May 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Oh niiiceee! My partner would love this. He loves hot dips. Me on the other hand, I’m a wimp and can’t handle the heat, lol!


  26. RisaG on May 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Boy that looks so good. I wish I was making a Cinco de Mayo party. Son is going to one at school but I am already making Arroz con Pollo for it. I will hold on to this for the next party I go to. Thanks.


  27. Debra Kapellakis on May 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Another one of your that I HAVE to make and gobble up!


  28. Tracy on May 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I’m sure this is a great queso recipe but I just tried to make it and it was a disaster. If you are going to make this, buy your own cheese and grate it yourself. If you buy already grated cheese, you’ll end up with a stringy, gloppy mess. I tried to add more milk and heat up the cheeses but it was unsalvageable.


    • Michelle on May 8th, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Tracy, I actually never use pre-shredded cheese for this very reason – it gets clumpy and nasty. I always buy a block and shred it myself. I’ve seen a lot of cooking magazines mention that it’s coated in a powder that keeps it from getting moldy, but that anti-caking agent actually keeps it from melting well.


      • Linda on January 20th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

        I just made it with pre-grated cheese and it turned out fantastic, my family loved it! (I didn’t read the comments until after I made it)! I usually make the Velveeta/Rotel version, but didn’t have those on hand… now I will make this version from now on, delicious!


        • Alice on May 22nd, 2014 at 4:27 am

          Also made with pre-grated cheese – I live in Australia so we only have ‘Mexican Blend’ cheese – Monterey Jack is impossible to find unless you want to pay A LOT of money! I was so happy with the way this turned out!! YUMYUMYUM!!!


    • Emily on February 4th, 2013 at 12:20 am

      We just didn’t like this recipe. We thought it was bland. Don’t think we’ll be making it again. Maybe we’re just picky.


      • Kym on January 1st, 2014 at 12:41 pm

        We made it last night and agree that it was bland. It needed some sort of seasoning. I also used pre-shredded cheese and it was ok. Not as smooth as I like it, but not a gloppy mess either.


    • Rachel on April 10th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      I made this with using pre-shredded cheese and then a block of cheese of Monterrey that I grated myself. It came out stringy, a little clumpy too. So is I am guessing the trick is to only buy blocks of cheese and grate it myself? Or what else could have caused lumpy non-creamy queso? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


      • Michelle on April 11th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

        Hi Rachel, Yes, absolutely buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. The pre-shredded cheese is absolutely awful for recipes where you need to actually melt the cheese.


  29. heidi on October 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    My kids love queso dip. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Buy Here Pay Here


  30. Alisha on October 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    One question – did you mean 6 cups of cheese in total or did you actually mean 3 cups in total? 6 cups seems like a lot so I made this with 3 cups instead – still
    turned out great!


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Alisha, The recipe is correct as written – 6 cups total. Glad you still enjoyed it!


  31. Marci on November 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    This recipe did not come out as planned. It was not creamy rather it was stringy. No one in my family like the flavor. Sorry :( I would not make this recipe again.


  32. rachel on February 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    perhaps the recipe needs to be clarified? I also had a stringy mess (a whirl of the immersion blender worked well to smooth things out a bit, but it still wasn’t quite “right”)

    I’d make the roux first, add the milk, then slowly add the cheese (a la macaroni and cheese, yes?) in a separate pan, cook all the veg, then add that mess to the smooth cheese sauce. the addition of the tomatoes and cilantro was when things went awry for me. thanks for sharing!


  33. Jessica on March 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Looked great in the recipe. However it had no flavor. Won’t be making this again. We even tried to doctor it with cumin, garlic powder, more jalapeños, jalapeño juice…nope. :(


  34. Kelly on March 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I was really dissapointed by this recipe. As with other comments, I also thought the recipe looked great. But it ended up very stringy, thick, and flavorless. I added a bit more sour cream and butter, hoping to thin it out. But I just ended up with a clumpy sticky mess. I think even if it had been the right consistency, it still would’ve tasted bad. I also tried adding some garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper to try and give it flavor, but it just wasn’t working. I ended up speding $15 on ingredients, and I just threw the whole thing out because I couldn’t do anything to make it work. Maybe with a little adjustments on the recipe it could work, but I am at a loss for what to do to improve it. Overall, I would definitely not recommend this recipe. Sorry :(


  35. Stephenie on April 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I have made a recipe like this and the writer of that one said the key was to new add more cheese until the cheese last added was fully melted and incorporated. It is worth taking your time with.


  36. Chris on May 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    just made this today, the cilantro should be to taste. to me and the other folks at a cookout 1/2 cup is a bit too much. i suggest adding it to your own taste otherwise people will ask if its spinach.


  37. Jill on June 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    I just made this tonight. I bought good quality Monterey jack and cheddar and shredded them by hand, and it melted beautifully. I followed instructions exactly (minus putting the garlic in with the peppers and onions) and it all blended together wonderfully. I did find it a bit bland and added a bit of salt and sriacha, but I think leaving in seeds from a pepper or two would kick it up if you like it spicier. Thanks for the great recipe!


  38. Barbara on July 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I have made a very similar version of this wonderful recipe for years. I got mine from a mexican restaurant. The recipe I have used calls for evaporated milk, and I have used both regular and fat free with good results. I use red onion, diced cherry tomatoes, and diced jalepenos from a jar after the cheese (jack only) melts ,, but I am anxious to try this version with sauteed fresh peppers and sour cream! mmmm can’t wait. Thanks! (no velveeta here lol)


  39. Beth on July 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I have made numerous recipes from this/your site. All with success!!! The taste had been great and they all have turned out as pictured.That is, til this one. Sadly, it didn’t taste as good as it looked and it seemed “to be missing” something. I wont be adding this to the recipe box.


  40. Lisa on July 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

    This recipe is simply amazing! Made as written except substituted cream cheese for the sour cream due to allergies. Very forgiving recipe that is packed with flavor and so good you won’t have leftovers! I put this on top of wet burritos as used the rest for chips and dip. We just couldn’t get enough of it!


  41. CkyBby on October 23, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I was so looking forward to making this queso, and unfortunately I ended up extremely disappointed! All of that time spent chopping, whisking, and stirring (not to mention the $$ wasted on ingredients) and all I ended up with was a pot of globby goo that eventually went in the trash. The cheese did not blend/incorporate with the liquid. My family and I loooove queso, and I’d love to be able to make it from scratch, but this isn’t the recipe.


  42. Dustin on November 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Unfortunately turned out tasteless. Bland and not good at all. Any suggestions on what I could add to make the rest usable? Otherwise I will just throw it out as it’s like eating a flavorless goo… :(


    • Dustin on November 9th, 2013 at 4:17 am

      IMPORTANT: To be fair, I forgot to mention that we omitted cilantro as my roommate has the gene that makes it taste like soap to him. This may very well have been the cause of the blandness. I still would like to find a way to make it taste good without the cilantro though if that’s what hurt it so much. Thanks :)


  43. Laura on November 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I made this recipe today. I managed to get the recipe to a consistent mix by heating it long enough and at a medium low temperature. While I started with a rather stringy mess as others have noted, I was able to bring it all together. BUT this was by far the blandest chile con queso I have ever tasted. One of my friends likened it to a cheese soup. Adding salsa wasn’t enough to save it. So, while I made it look good, I could not get it to taste good. Will not make again.


  44. Crystal on February 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I have been making this recipe for about a year now. It turns out great. I typically dice two fresh tomatoes instead of using can tomatoes. I also chop 4 serrano peppers and add cayenne pepper and a bit of picante hot sauce. I found the key to melting the cheese properly is 1) only add a handful at a time and make sure it melts before adding more. I also reduce the heat to medium rather than low. I just make sure to keep it stirred. While adding the cheese you want to make sure to keep stirring quickly. I hope this helps everyone. It turns out a little bit spicy but my kids and I love it.


  45. James on July 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm


    I just did. And just tossed $15 worth of cheese and vegetables down the garbage chute.
    Should have bought Velveeta, but I thought I’d try this. I ended up with something that looked good, but it was a stringy, oily mess with no taste, despite the serrano peppers.

    Now I’ll have to spend another hour scrubbing cheese off everything.


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