I’m super excited to share this queso recipe with you. This Mexican dip is cheesy, creamy and full of fresh flavor. It’s surprisingly easy to make and utterly irresistible.
This recipe uses a simple secret ingredient—cream cheese—to achieve its gloriously creamy texture and light tang. No flour and no fussy roux required here (as a bonus, this queso is gluten free).
This stovetop queso possesses all of Velveeta’s positive attributes, but it tastes a million times nicer. It even cools down with grace, developing just a slight skin on top that really doesn’t detract from its appeal.
If you’re like me, you probably don’t need an excuse to eat queso while sipping a margarita. I grew up around a lot of Tex-Mex food and like to consider myself a queso connoisseur. If queso is on the menu, I’ve likely sampled it.
My husband, on the other hand, exercises an impressive amount of restraint when it comes to queso. He tells me he doesn’t like it. (He’s generally a rational man, though I question him in cheese-related matters.) This queso is an exception to his rule. He loves it.
We both agree that this is the best queso we’ve ever had. Try it, and I hope you’ll say the same!
Homemade Queso Ingredients
This recipe is made with all-natural ingredients. You’ll find the full recipe below. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Butter: We’ll start by cooking onion and jalapeño in melted butter. Sure, we could use olive oil instead, but butter offers some extra-delicious notes to this already dairy-rich recipe.
- Red onion: The onion flavor mellows significantly as it cooks and offers a nice savory backbone to this queso. Any variety of onion will work, but I like red onion’s flavor and color best here.
- Jalapeño: Fresh or jarred jalapeño is optional here, offering both fresh flavor and some heat. I love it, but if you’re sensitive to spice, you can omit it or just scale back.
- Garlic: Like onion, garlic adds another savory dimension to this queso.
- Milk: Whole milk is best, or I imagine 2 percent would work if that’s what you have. I’ve also successfully made this queso with a thick, unsweetened, plain alternative milk (specifically, Forager brand’s cashew milk).
- Cream cheese: Cream cheese makes this dip thick and ultra creamy. It also offers a bit of tang. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know that I love cream cheese!
- Cheese: We’ll use a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese for optimal flavor and melt factor. If you love spice like me, try pepper jack cheese instead of plain. It’s delicious.
- Tomatoes: You have several options here. I love quartered cherry tomatoes or diced ripe tomatoes, when tomatoes are in season. You could use drained, diced tomatoes instead, or even well-drained tomato salsa. (Despise tomatoes? Skip them.)
- Hot sauce: Again, technically optional, but just a few dashes of hot sauce like Cholula adds one more dimension of flavor.
- Cilantro: Cilantro offers one final burst of freshness. If you don’t like cilantro, skip it. If you do like it, add a scattering of extra cilantro leaves as a garnish.
Watch How to Make the Best Queso
Queso Serving Suggestions
Serve your queso with any of the following:
- Tortilla chips or warmed tortillas, of course
- Margaritas: Skinny Margaritas or fruity margaritas (find many variations here)
- More dips: Red Salsa, Guacamole or Classic Pico de Gallo
- Tacos: Easy Black Bean Tacos or Epic Vegetarian Tacos
- Enchiladas: Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas or Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas
- Salads and sides: Elote (Mexican Street Corn), Mexican(ish) Kale & Quinoa Salad or Green Salad with Jalapeño-Cilantro Dressing
View all of my Mexican-inspired recipes here. Also check out the blog Isabel Eats, which is where I learned this great cream cheese queso trick! Isabel is a first-generation Mexican American and offers tons of amazing Mexican recipes.
Please let me know how your queso turns out in the comments. I love hearing from you.
The Best Queso
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Dip
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Gluten Free
Make this queso recipe! This Mexican dip is cheesy, creamy and full of fresh flavor. It’s surprisingly easy to make and utterly irresistible. Recipe yields about 4 ½ cups, enough for 8 servings (the recipe is easily halved).
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium jalapeño or 2 tablespoons drained jarred jalapeños (both optional)
- 1 small-to-medium red onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine salt, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¾ cup whole milk, more to thin if desired
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes, diced ripe tomatoes or canned drained diced tomatoes
- Several dashes of your favorite hot sauce, such as Cholula
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Tortilla chips or warmed tortillas, for serving
- Before you get started, be sure that all of your ingredients are prepared and ready to go near the stove. The optional jalapeño adds some flavor and some heat. If using a fresh pepper, remove the seeds and ribs, then finely chop. For jarred jalapeños, just finely chop them.
- Melt the butter in a small-to-medium Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add the onion, jalapeño (if using), and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, while stirring often, until the onions are tender and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant while stirring, about 30 seconds.
- Add the milk and cream cheese to the pot. Stir until the cream cheese has melted into the mixture (it should be mostly smooth), about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and start adding the cheese in medium handfuls, stirring after each one. Once the cheese has melted completely into the mixture, add the next handful, and so on until you have added all of the cheese.
- Stir in the tomatoes, hot sauce, cilantro, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Gently stir until the mixture is combined and the dip is smooth and creamy (if the mixture seems gloppy at all, you may actually need to increase the heat a bit here). If desired, thin the queso with up to ½ cup additional milk in ¼-cup increments, stirring after each until it is fully incorporated.
- Promptly remove the mixture from the heat (don’t leave the queso on the stove, or it may overcook). Serve while hot. Garnishes are optional, but I like to add some additional cilantro leaves and a scattering of additional tomatoes.
Recipe adapted from Isabel Eats.
Serving and storage suggestions: The queso will develop a bit of a “skin” over time, with minimal impact to the overall texture. You can gently reheat queso on the stove or in the microwave as needed, being careful not to overheat it. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days. Gently reheat before serving.
Dairy note: Sorry, this queso cannot be made dairy free (try my Creamy Vegan Queso instead!). You can, however, reduce the dairy products somewhat by using a thick, plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk. I’ve successfully made this recipe with Forager’s brand cashew milk.