Chips and salsa are good. Chips and guacamole are better. In my opinion, though, chips and queso are the superior snack and appetizer choice.
The problem, though, is that not all queso dips are created alike. Some are bland, some are watery, and some are darn right artificial (I’m looking at you, Velvetta!). The quest for the perfect, flavorful queso dip at a restaurant can be rewarding or disappointing while attempting to recreate a silky smooth queso at home tends to be mostly error after numerous trials.
This is why I’m excited to share with you my creamy, restaurant-quality, REAL CHEESE, queso dip! It is a recipe that took me several years to develop and is one that is great on its own or as a heaping plate of loaded nachos. However you eat it, this queso recipe is a shining star that will stand out at any fiesta!
Serves: 8 as an appetizer
Prep Time: <10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes (hands-on cooking) + 2-3 hours on HIGH heat or 4-5 hours on LOW heat in the slow cooker (stirring/monitoring every so often)
- 1 medium or large white onion, diced
- 1lb of white American cheese, cubed* (or ¾ lb white American cheese and ¼ lb pepper jack if you want to add a little spice)
- 1 ¼ cup of half and half
- 4oz can of green chiles
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Tiny sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)
- Toppings: Jalapeno (raw or pickled), tomatoes, red onion (raw or pickled), pico de gallo, cilantro, avocado or guacamole
Let’s do this!
- Peel, wash and dice the onion.
- Heat a medium-size pan or skillet over medium heat. Add a swirl of EVOO to the skillet and cook the onions, about 10-15 minutes or until the onions become golden in color. Stir occasionally during this time and add more EVOO to the skillet, if needed. Once the onions are golden and translucent, season with salt and pepper and stir. Turn off the heat. Add the can of green chiles, stirring to combine.
- In a large crockpot coated with non-stick cooking spray or lined with a slow-cooker liner, add the onion and green chile mixture along with the cubed cheese, half and half, and chili power. Allow these items to heat for about an hour (if using HIGH heat) or a few hours (if using LOW heat) until the cheese begins to melt.
- Once the cheese has begun to melt, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper (I start by using 1 TBSP of salt and 1 tsp of pepper and then taste test as the dip develops). Optional: a tsp of red pepper flakes and/or a tiny sprinkle of nutmeg.
- Allow the flavors to incorporate, another 30-60 minutes (if using HIGH heat) or 1+ hours (if using LOW heat).
- Once the cheese has melted and the mixture takes the appearance of a dip, taste test. Add additional salt and/or pepper if needed, stirring to combine. If the dip is seasoned to your liking, go get it! If you’re not ready to serve it, you can keep this dip in the crockpot on the “LOW” or “KEEP WARM” setting and eat to your dining or entertaining preference.
- Serve with tortilla chips or crudité. Enjoy!
*I get my cheese for this dip from the deli counter at my local grocery store. If there isn’t a line, I kindly ask for the cheese to be cut into cubes and usually the deli worker will oblige. However, if they won’t take the time to cut the cheese into cubes, I ask for the cheese to be cut into wedges or a large hunk and then will cut the cheese on my own. The whole reason I cut the cheese into cubes is to shorten the time it takes for the cheese to melt.
**You can easily double this recipe if feeding a crowd. I often double it for watch parties or tailgates!