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[/donotprint]
Chile con Queso
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup (80 g) 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 (244 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (8 g) chopped cilantro
- 15 ounce (425.24 g) canned diced tomatoes, drained (about 1 cup)
- 12 ounces (340.2 g) cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
- 12 ounces (340.2 g) Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup (115 ml) sour cream
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Chili con queso translates to “chili with cheese” in English. If it doesn’t have chili, it’s not chili con queso. It’s just queso.
I wish there was an option for a picture review. My husband bought quesadilla quest by cacique .. thinking it would just melt. So I looked up recipes for a bechamel sauce to go with it. I halved the butter and flour because I only used 10 oz of cheese.. so I also halved the milk .. I added Rotel and about 2 tsp of roasted garlic (all pureed and simmered) to the bechamel sauce and slowly whisked in the milk and pepper. The milk (1/2 cup) wasn’t enough It was super thick.. and instead of sour cream I added more milk .. also I always buy the block cheese and just chop it up .. these recipes with bechamel are always a little bland … I even added hot sausage .. I’ve heard using yellow american or white american with ONLY water and various peppers is the closest to authentic mexican
Mine turned out well blended. Not stringy. I seasoned to my taste. Used correct cheese. It is slightly grainy. Is there a way to fix this? Or prevent?
Not good. I made this last night and we followed the directions perfectly. The cheese taste was bland and the texture was really unfavorable. The texture was gritty and the cheese curdled like a cottage cheese. The cheeses just wouldn’t melt. The recipe sounds good but we will never make this again. If your looking for a smooth queso dip, this is not it. It was also around $20 to make. Very disappointed.
I made this today and was thankful I didn’t make it for a party. It was bland and not the consistency that I was looking for. I added a ton of spices to amp it up and it is ok, but I wont be making it again. Bummer! On the hunt for the perfect homemade queso dip.
I made this tonight and also messed it up. The problem I believe and I think this is probably the reason so many others came out with the wrong consistency is because right before you put the cheese in you have to give the sauce a minute to come back up to temperature after you add the diced tomatoes. The addition of anything cooler than what is in your pot is going to reduce the temperature temporarily. If you start trying to put the cheese in immediately the temperature will drop even further and not melt. I know this because I stuck my finger in it for several seconds and didn’t get burned. If you then raise the temperature to get the cheese to melt, the cheese will begin to break down. I work as a chef’s assistant and we make cheese sauce all the time with preshredded cheese with no problem. And yes you do have to stir it in a little at a time or you will end up with a globby mess. And I used all block cheese this evening.
The taste of this queso is NOT GOOD. No flavor. Disappointed!
Another flavorless, heatless excuse for queso. Needs some real heat and cheese, less flour, milk, and sour cream. Yankee recipe at best.
DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR YOUR MONEY!
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.
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.
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.
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… :(
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 :)
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.
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!
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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 :(
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. :(
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!
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.
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!
Hi Alisha, The recipe is correct as written – 6 cups total. Glad you still enjoyed it!
My kids love queso dip. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
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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.
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another one of your that I HAVE to make and gobble up!
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.
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!
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 :)
Oh this looks so delicious!!
Love Chili Con Queso!!! Looks yummy!
This is my biggest weakness. Love it.
This looks delicious! :) I can’t wait to try it, thanks for sharing the recipe!
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.
Think this would hold up ok if I threw it in a mini crock pot and took it to a party?
My brother will be thrilled with this!
Oh this looks good, and so comforting!!! I have to make this asap!
love queso dip!!
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.
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.
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!
Yum! This would pair so nicely with almost anything!! Love it!
I could eat buckets of this. Never mind that my body would hate me!
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!!!
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!!!
Ooh, no, I haven’t done my own chips. Sounds yummy!
you could go a step further and make your own tortillas first…
I am not hugely into queso, but my wife would be a happy woman if I made this. Looks very creamy!
This dip sounds and looks so good that I think I would need a big spoon along with the tortilla chips.
Perfect recipe post for this week, absolutely delicious!!
I love cheese dips! And I am not a fan of velveeta at all so this homemade version looks so perfectly delicious!
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!
I want that dip, right now. Oh, that looks soooo good!
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 :)