Tex-Mex Queso

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Want your favorite restaurant queso at home?  This ridiculously delicious Tex-Mex Queso is made with real cheese and is perfect for your next party, tailgate, or potluck.
Servings: 8 people
Total Time: 25 minutes
tex-mex queso in serving bowl topped with pico de gallo with chips and avocado.

There are days when you just have a craving for Mexican restaurant-style queso dip and our Tex-Mex Queso is a quick and easy recipe for satisfying your cheesy needs. It is addictively delicious and is perfect for tailgates, Super Bowl parties, or just as an indulgent afternoon snack.

tex-mex queso in serving bowl topped with pico de gallo with chips and avocado

Key Ingredients and Substitutions


Creating great homemade queso does not take a lot of ingredients and it comes together quickly.

The full ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese: You can substitute cheddar cheese with other types of cheese such as asadero cheese (or white American cheese), pepper jack, or Monterey Jack. The key is using freshly grated cheese.
  • Evaporated Milk: To keep the queso creamy and smooth you will want to use evaporated milk instead of regular milk or water. The evaporated milk contains high protein levels with less water, making the cheese dip creamy and less likely to separate.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent and also helps keep the fat from separating out.
  • Green Chiles: Adding green chiles will give the queso some flavor and a little bit of heat.
  • Tomatoes: If you don’t have any fresh tomatoes you can substitute a can of diced tomatoes. Just be sure to drain out all the liquid first.
ingredients for tex-mex queso

The Best Cheese for Queso


To get the best restaurant-style queso that doesn’t use processed cheese like Velveeta use a combo of cornstarch and evaporated milk along with freshly grated full-fat American or cheddar cheese. Full-fat cheese produces queso that is creamy and smooth so avoid using low-fat or no-fat cheese. Low-fat and no-fat cheese takes longer to melt and can be stringy and tough. You will get the creamiest queso using cheese that you hand grate on a box grater or food processor. Pre-shredded cheese contains additives such as potato starch to keep the cheese from clumping which can prevent the cheese from completely melting.

How to Make Tex-Mex Queso


Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.

Pro-tip: Skip the store-bought shredded cheese. It can contain additives to help prevent it from clumping but will produce grainy queso.

1. Cook the Onions and Garlic: Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add garlic and onions, cooking slowly for about 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

2. Cook the Tomatoes: Add diced tomatoes and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until tomatoes begin to break down/soften.

3. Whisk in the Cornstarch and Evaporated Milk: In a medium bowl, combine evaporated milk and cornstarch. Whisk until cornstarch is dissolved. Add milk and cornstarch mixture to the saucepan with vegetables.

tex-mex queso process shots for steps 1-3

4. Melt the Cheese: Stir until the mixture begins to thicken and then add shredded cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese has completely melted.

5. Add Chiles and Spices: Add cumin, salt, black pepper, green chiles, and cilantro and stir.

6. Simmer: Bring queso to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.

tex-mex queso process shots for steps 4-

7. Serve: Serve warm topped with pico de gallo and accompanied by tortilla chips.

tex-mex queso in serving bowl topped with pico de gallo with chips and avocado

Make-Ahead and Storage


Make-Ahead: Queso is best when made fresh since it will begin to thicken and get grainy as it cools due to the cornstarch. It is easy and quick to make so we recommend not making it ahead. It can be kept warm in a slow cooker or crock pot.

How to Store: Leftover queso will never be as good as fresh but if you have leftovers you can refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 4 days. And believe it or not, we have actually frozen leftover queso. Use a freezer-safe bag once it has cooled. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

How to Reheat: The queso will begin to thicken as it cools. To reheat it place it in a pot on the stovetop on low heat and add a splash of milk if it is too thick. It can also be reheated quickly in the microwave. Using a microwave-safe bowl add queso and a splash of milk and heat in 15-30 seconds increments, stirring between increments to make sure it’s heated thoroughly.

What to Serve with Queso


Queso is perfect with tortilla chips and we love topping ours with pico de gallo and guacamole. Served with a frozen margarita or two and it makes for the perfect happy-hour appetizer. Add some cooked ground beef, chorizo, or chili, and turn it into a heartier meal.

It can be used as a topping for baked potatoes, drizzled on top of nachos or tacos, as a dip for taquitos, as the cheese on your favorite burger, on top of chili, as a dip for French fries or soft pretzels, or even with your morning scrambled eggs.

Recipe Tips and Notes


  • Add some protein. Pork sausage, ground beef, or chicken are great additions to this queso.
  • Keep it warm in a slow cooker. Tex-Mex queso can also be prepared in a slow cooker. After it has been simmered for 2-3 minutes transfer it to a slow cooker and set it to warm.  Serve it directly from the slow cooker to keep it smooth, creamy, and warm.
  • Use freshly grated cheese. Store-bought shredded cheese contains additives such as potato starch to keep the cheese from clumping. This can prevent the cheese from completely melting.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is queso?

Queso translates as cheese but usually when someone mentions queso they are referring to the liquidy, melty cheese dip which is an American invention. It is a common appetizer in many American-Mexican restaurants.

What is chili con queso?

Chili con queso is a queso that has been made with chile peppers. Queso and chili con queso are used interchangeably since most queso is made with chile peppers.

What’s the difference between queso and queso fundido?

Queso is an American-invented dish that was first created in Texas in the early 1900s (although with any popular dish, this is often debated). Queso fundido translates as molten cheese and is an authentic Mexican dish that uses real Mexican cheese and is made in a clay pot or metal/cast iron skillet.

How do I make Queso Blanco?

To make Queso Blanco use white American cheese instead of yellow American or cheddar cheese.

How do I keep the queso smooth as it cools?

The queso will thicken as it cools because it is made using cornstarch and real cheese but will remain creamy. Stir it to prevent the film that will form on top. You can use a splash of milk or evaporated milk to thin out the queso.

tex-mex queso in serving bowl topped with pico de gallo with chips and avocado

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Other Recipes to Try


If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:

tex-mex queso in serving bowl topped with pico de gallo with chips and avocado.

Tex-Mex Queso

Want your favorite restaurant queso at home?  This ridiculously delicious Tex-Mex Queso is made with real cheese and is perfect for your next party, tailgate, or potluck.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Dips and Sauces
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Servings 8 people
Calories 187 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Saucepan (4 Quarts)
  • Cheese Grater
  • Medium-Sized Bowl

Ingredients  

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup tomato diced
  • 13 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 ½ cups cheddar cheese freshly shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly grated
  • 4 ½ ounce can green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped
  • Pico de Gallo for garnish
  • Tortilla Chips for dipping

Instructions 

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.
  • Add garlic and onions, cooking slowly for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  • Add diced tomatoes and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until tomatoes begin to break down/soften.
  • In a medium bowl, combine evaporated milk and cornstarch. Whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.
  • Add milk and cornstarch mixture to the saucepan.
  • Stir until the mixture begins to thicken and then add shredded cheese. Continue to stir until cheese has completely melted.
  • Add cumin, salt, black pepper, green chiles, and cilantro and stir.
  • Bring queso to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve warm topped with pico de gallo and tortilla chips.

Notes

1. Keeping Queso Warm:  After the queso has been simmered for 2-3 minutes transfer it to a slow cooker and set to warm.  Serve queso directly from the slow cooker to keep it smooth, creamy, and warm.
2. Shredded Cheese: Store-bought shredded cheese contains additives such as potato starch to keep the cheese from clumping.  This can hinder the cheese from completely melting and produce queso that tastes a bit grainy.
3. Nutritional information: The nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. The nutritional value is only for the queso and does not include the nutritional information of any chips served with the queso.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 187 kcalCarbohydrates: 12 gProtein: 9 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 7 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3 gCholesterol: 40 mgSodium: 255 mgPotassium: 173 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 4 gVitamin A: 17 IUVitamin C: 11 mgCalcium: 30 mg
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