From parties to potlucks to backyard barbecues, chili queso dip has never met a crowd it couldn’t please. The perfect combination of creamy cheese and a chili kick, this shareable dip will have you crowned snack maker extraordinaire without taking more than 20 minutes of active effort.
The Simple Pleasure of Comfort Food
Usually served with tortilla chips, chili queso dip combines chili and cheese in a slow-simmered delight that comes out tasting irresistibly good. The cheese (being the true star of the show) melts and mixes with the chili and any other added ingredients, usually tomatoes and green chiles. Because it must melt easily, a processed cheese like Velveeta is most commonly used as the base of chili queso dip. This dip is served warm, often with the help of a slow cooker, and ranks in many minds as a favorite party treat.
As the name betrays, chili queso dip is a gift from Mexican cuisine that was adopted and modified in tex-mex variations. Queso simply means cheese in Spanish, and chili queso dip as it is known today hails from Chihuahua, Mexico where it is called chile con queso. In traditional varieties, the ‘chili’ in chili queso dip actually refers to chili peppers, which makes the end result less acidic (due to the absence of tomato) and more spicy. Many chili queso dip recipes include both canned chili and green chili peppers.
A Wholly Unique Treat
There’s nothing quite like chili queso dip in any other cuisine. Sure, cheese sauces are a staple in all sorts of cultures, but none have masterfully combined the splash of spice with the comfort food of creamy cheese like chili queso dip. Plus, like many Mexican inspired dishes, this one can be prepared with only a few ingredients, or made much more elaborate depending on how much time and effort you’re willing or able to exert.
How to Make Chili Queso Dip
The process of preparing chili queso dip in its most basic form is shockingly simple. It requires just a few basic steps:
- First, make sure you have a can of chili, a can of diced tomatoes, green chiles, and at least one package processed cheese.
- Cut the cheese into cubes so it will melt faster, and combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Heat the mixture until the cheese has melted, stirring continuously so all of the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Since no part of this basic recipe requires actual cooking, once the concoction is warm and well mixed, it’s ready to serve. Chili queso dip is best enjoyed warm, and with some sort of tortilla or corn chips, so keep that in mind if you plan to transport the dip.
Customizing Chili Queso
Branching off of this basic preparation, virtually limitless recipes have sprung up in the chili queso dip tradition. Some of the most common variations include:
- Preparing the chili queso dip in a slow cooker rather than a saucepan for easy transport
- Using fresh tomatoes and green chiles (as well as any other additional peppers) rather than canned ones
- Adding meat to the recipe by cooking and draining it before mixing in the chili, cheese, tomatoes, and peppers
- Adding traditional Mexican spices like cayenne, paprika, cumin, and chili powder rather than peppers
No matter which variation you choose to take on, as long as your chili queso dip contains both melted cheese and chili, there’s no way to really go wrong.
If you’re looking for a dish that will go over beautifully at every gathering, chili queso dip is the perfect recipe to add to your arsenal.