Code cracked: made with real cheese, this Queso Dip is a copycat of the cheese dip sold in jars and served at your favourite Mexican restaurant. The miracle of this is that it’s silky smooth even with it cools. Imagine the possibilities!
“I MUST try fake cheese dip!” I declared to Jo when I visited her in Calgary, Canada, earlier this month. “We don’t have it in Australia!” She wrinkled her nose and looked at me dubiously, trying to figure out if I was serious. Once she realised I was, she lead me to the astonishingly large range of fake cheese dips in the corn chip aisle at the supermarket.
I picked out an orange coloured Queso with “MADE WITH REAL CHEESE!!!” plastered across the label. Honestly – does anyone believe that for a second??? Cheese ain’t cheese if it can survive on the shelves for months – years!!!
But…. don’t judge me. We warmed that “stuff” up, and I had my first try of fake cheese dip….. and I enjoyed it. Yes, there’s that artificial edge to it (real cheese… *snort*!). But I still liked it. Decided I had to replicate it using real ingredients when I got home to Sydney.
So I did. 🙂
This Queso Dip recipe is for everyone out there who has attempted to make a Mexican cheese dip like what you get at Mexican restaurants and found it lacking. If you want the dip to be silky smooth like the stuff you get in jars, then the recipes call for fake cheese – Velveeta or other processed cheeses. Other recipes are made starting with a roux – butter & flour – which is used to make a béchamel sauce into which cheese is added. While this makes a terrific cheese sauce for pouring over vegetables, in lasagna, gratins etc, it doesn’t have that truly silky and rich texture of a cheese dip.
Other recipes call for real cheese and varying combinations of cream / sour cream / mayonnaise – but the problem with these is that when the dip cools down, the cheese congeals. It’s super tasty – but you need to keep it warm. And also it has a tendency to split when rewarmed.
The solution? Evaporated milk + cornflour/cornstarch + cheese = silky smooth rich cheese dip / sauce. Truly. It works. 🙂
Actually, I shared Nachos Cheese Dip a couple of years ago which is a simpler version of this dip. This Queso Dip is my copycat of the fake cheese dip I tried in Canada (it was Tostitos) and the ultra addictive dips served at Tex Mex restaurants in America.
I even made my own corn chips using corn tortillas because I can no longer find white corn chips here. And also because corn chips made using corn tortillas tastes so much more like corn than store bought. Plus the added bonus of being able to control the amount of salt on them – is it just me who finds store bought corn chips super salty?? I swear, they are getting saltier. If I want corn chips to use for a dip, I have to hunt for salt reduced or even unsalted.
Don’t make this Queso Dip when you’re home alone. I’m supposed to be on my Post Holiday Health Kick (I know, I know, you hear this every time I come back from holidays!!!) and it’s taken astronomical will power to hold back.
I’ve got 3 batches of this Mexican Cheese Dip in my fridge. I’m planning to offload them tomorrow. – Nagi x
PS Except maybe that one little jar. I might keep that for myself…..
PPS I realise that some people may raise their eyebrows at the name “Life Changing Queso Dip”, but for Queso Dip lovers, I deign to say this will be life changing!!!
Copycat of Queso Dip (Mexican Cheese Dip) sold in jars in the US and the Queso dip at Mexican restaurants. The unique thing about this recipe is that it's made with real cheese and yet it stays silky smooth even when it cools! Read more in the post above for details. Recipe VIDEO below so you can see how smooth it is at room temperature. Makes about 2.5 cups.
- 2.5 cups / 225 g shredded cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, etc) (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp cornflour / cornstarch
- 1/2 tbsp / 8 g butter
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 small white onion, very finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 375 g / 13 oz evaporated milk (1 can, not low fat)
- 1 small tomato, finely diced (3/4 cup) (Note 2)
- 1/4 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, cumin
- 4 oz / 113g can chopped green chile, fire roasted (Subs Note 3)
- 1/4 cup coriander / cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 - 3 tbsp milk, any
Place cheese and cornflour in a bowl, toss to coat.
Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or small pot.
Add garlic and onion, cook slowly for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent but not browned.
Add tomato (including juices) and cook for 2 minutes until tomato is slightly softened.
Add evaporated milk and cheese. Stir, then add chiles and Spices.
Stir until cheese melts and it becomes a silky sauce.
Add salt to taste - amount required depends on saltiness of cheese used - and stir through coriander.
Stir in milk or water to adjust consistency (I use 2 tbsp) - the dip thickens when it cools, and milk can be added later to adjust to taste.
Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature - it will be soft and scoopable even when it cools.
Store in the refrigerator. When refrigerated, it becomes the consistency of the cheese spread sold in jars that are not in the refrigerator section. Reheat in microwave and adjust consistency as desired with a tiny bit of milk. If you add too much, just put on stove again until it thickens.
1. Use any melting cheese you want. My favourite combination for the Nachos Cheese Dip on which this recipe is based used to be half cheddar, half Monterey Jack because I thought that made the flavour similar to what you get at Mexican restaurants in the states but for some reason Monterey Jack is no longer sold at my local grocery store. Now I use cheddar and/or Colby.
AUSTRALIA: Do not use Tasty Cheese, I find that some brands don't melt well into evaporated milk and the dip can come out a touch grainy. Some work ok, but because it's hit and miss, it's easier just to say it's better to avoid tasty cheese, if you can. But my friends have never complained when I've made this with tasty cheese!
2. You can also use diced canned tomato. Drain in a colander and measure about 3/4 cup. The dip comes out slightly pinker.
3. Canned green chile is not readily available in Australia (grr!!!). I bring back dozens of cans from the States every time I go! It is not spicy, it actually tastes like capsicum/bell peppers. The main thing is that they are fire roasted so they add a touch of smokiness to the dip. So the best sub for this recipe is to use roasted capsicum sold in jars (green or red), finely chop it and measure out 1/2 cup. Otherwise, just leave it out - the cheese dip is still super tasty.
Some readers have kindly provided links for places to source American products, including green chillies (WHOOT!) here in Australia. Here is an online store, USA Foods, and here is a resource that lists places to get Mexican ingredients in Australia.
4. Homemade Tortillas - I made my own using corn tortillas because I like white corn chips but they are no longer sold at supermarkets here in Australia and also I find store bought corn chips too salty. All I did was stack the tortillas then cut into 6 wedges. Fry in 1.5cm / 3/5" of oil in a large skillet heated over medium high heat until crispy (single layer). Drain on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt while hot.
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.
Queso Dip (Mexican Cheese Dip) recipe video!
LIFE OF DOZER
That’s not a peeved look on his face, even though that’s what you might think. It’s a look of contentment and utter comfort in his very cozy sweatshirt. I’m sure of it. He’s not embarrassed. 😈