This easy chile con queso is an addictive appetizer served with tortilla chips.
It is a favorite at Tex-Mex gatherings. While some may scoff at using processed cheese such as Velveeta, this short cut ingredient turns what can be a finicky dish that can separate into a pool of oil and a scary glob of yuck that is an expensive culinary fail.
A Pinch of Salt Lake uses a handy rating system for the difficulty of each recipe. Recipes are rated as a pinch of difficulty for recipes that require only basic cooking skills and equipment; a tablespoon of difficulty for recipes that somewhat involved or require extra attention and time; and a cup of difficulty for recipes that involve special equipment or a larger amount of time and/or effort. Recipes in this last group might look intimidating, but will stretch your culinary skills and result in an impressive dish.
This queso utilizes the fail-safe ingredient of processed cheese which earns it a rating of a pinch of difficulty. Look forward to a different chili con queso recipe coming down the pipeline made with a variety of Mexican cheeses that will be a little more involved and will be rated as such.
What is processed cheese
Processed cheese was invented in 1918 as a way to use cheese parts that would otherwise be thrown away as unsellable. Emil Frey, a farmer, cheesemaker, and inventor was tasked with coming up with a product that would taste like the popular mild American cheese. He tinkered with the process to create a shelf-stable, soft textured, and smooth melting cheese product that we have today.
This easy queso uses processed cheese, cream cheese, and an assortment of cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack cheese as the base, with onions, jalapeño, and tomatoes to add flavor. The dish comes together quickly and is sure to be devoured just as quickly.
To make this for your Halloween party, buy spooky tortilla chips like these chips from Xochil. They are very thin and crispy. Orange and black tortilla chips are dubbed dried bat wings (but they are the traditional triangle shape) for this spooky recipe. Download the food place cards below by right-clicking to save for your computer and then print out the image for your party. I’ve included tags for Mild Queso or Spicy Queso, whichever you prefer.Print
Creamy melted cheese with chilies, onions and tomatoes, either mild or spicy, as a warm dip for tortilla chips.
- 1 cup processed cheese, cubed (8 ounces)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 1 (4 ounce) can mild diced chilies
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 2–3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated cheese, use sharp cheddar, monterey jack, or pepper jack cheese or a combination of cheeses to equal 2 cups
- 1 jalapeño, finely diced
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup cilantro, minced
- In a medium saucepan, add the processed cheese, cream cheese together and cook over medium high heat to melt. Stirring occasionally.
- Add the diced chilies, diced onions, diced tomatoes and stir into the melting cheeses.
- Add the cumin, salt and white pepper and stir to combine.
- Once processed cheese and cream cheese are fully melted, add the grated cheese and stir until melted.
- Add 1/2 of jalapeño and the green onions and taste for the desired spice level. If making a mild queso, only add the green onions and a small pinch of jalapeño, and taste.
- Add 1/3 cup heavy cream to thin the cheese sauce. If needed add the remaining cream to reach the desired texture.
- Just before serving add the minced cilantro and stir well to combine. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
You can cook this in a slow cooker turned to high until the cheese is melted and then switched down to low to keep warm. It will take longer for the cheese to melt, but when kept heated on low it will stay nicely silky. By starting in the slow cooker there is not an extra pan to wash.
For a mild queso, remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapeño, (see this post on how to do this) and only add a 1/2 teaspoon of jalapeño at a time until the desired level of spice is reached.
- Serving Size: 1 ounce
Keywords: easy chile con queso, fast queso, queso with velveeta