Are you ready for some…spicy chili cheese dip?! This may just be the best spicy, cheesy dip recipe ever.
It makes a ton, goes beautifully with tortilla chips, and is perfect for sharing! And if you’re feeling fancy, you can stir it into pasta for an easy spicy chili mac and cheese. So delicious!
If you’re looking for spicy appetizers, you might also really enjoy my spicy smoked pimento cheese recipe.
For ease of browsing, you can find all my appetizer recipes here. Thanks so much for visiting!
Watch my spicy chili cheese dip web story here.
Why You Need to Make This Recipe
In short, it’s addictive.
Smooth, creamy, cheesy, just spicy enough.
It is truly so good.
And the recipe makes a ton, so it’s great for sharing with a crowd.
It’s versatile, too.
- Serve it with chips and/or cut vegetables
- Serve it as an excellent nacho sauce for a plate of nachos
- Pour it over a big old burrito
- Bake it on top of enchiladas for an unconventional but delicious cheesy, chili-y enchilada bake.
- Mix it into pasta with some pasta cooking water and make a spicy, Mexican-inspired cheesy, meaty mac and cheese
This recipe makes a ton–at least a quart–so invite a crowd.
Or enjoy it over a few days. It keeps and reheats like a dream.
How to Make Chili Cheese Dip
This dip is super easy to make.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Evaporated milk: 1 large can I don’t recommend using whole milk because it has too much water in it so the milk solids could get grainy when you boil them. Evaporated milk already contains way less water, and the milk solids are already cooked
- Cornstarch: This helps to thicken the dip as it cools, and it also keeps the cheese from curdling when boiled
- Chili: I use canned, no beans. You could also substitute 2 cups of homemade chili. Note that canned chili already contains thickeners like starch, so using homemade may result in a thinner texture
- Ro-Tel: 1 can, any flavor. Or to keep it less spicy, substitute 10 oz diced tomatoes
- Cumin: More or less to your taste, and if you don’t like cumin, feel free to leave it out
- Ground Chipotle: I like this for a bit of smoky heat. You could also use some canned chipotles in adobo, minced.
- Chili powder: For a little extra flavor. It’s not strictly necessary, but I like to pack in as much additional flavor as I can
- Cheese: I use a combination of jack cheese and pepper jack. You could use all of 1 or all of the other if you’d like. It melts smoothly and adds a really silky body to the dip
- Salt: Even though the chili is seasoned, I add a touch of salt because the evaporated milk doesn’t have salt in it. I find if I don’t add extra salt, the overall flavors are not as pronounced, and I want a ton of flavor from my chili cheese dip!
The process for making this dip is pretty simple and straightforward. Here’s the rundown:
- Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Seriously. I’m not kidding about “dump and stir.” Just put everything in the pool and stir well.
- Heat to a boil. Turn the heat to medium, and heat until the dip comes to a boil. Stir frequently, and then constantly as it gets hotter so it doesn’t stick.
- Keep it at a boil for a minute or two. Turn down the heat if you need to to keep the dip at a low boil. Stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon. (Long-handled because this stuff is thick, and the bubbles and throw molten dip into the air.)
- Serve warm. The dip will be pretty thin when it finishes boiling, but it will thicken as it cools. You can either serve it once it cools down to just warm, or you can chill it and then reheat it when it’s time for snacking.
Chili Cheese Dip Q&A
There’s nothing worse than trying to follow a recipe and then having questions in the middle of making it. So I’ve tried to answer your questions before you ask them.
Then you’ll just be making spicy cheese dip instead of chili cheese dip. So yes, you can absolutely leave the chili out if you’d like. The procedure is exactly the same: everyone goes into the pot. Stir. Boil. Serve warm. Done.
Just substitute either one for the chili. Seriously, you really can’t mess this recipe up unless you don’t stir.
Yes. As long as your crock pot gets hot enough to bring the dip to a boil, you’ll be fine. Just put everything in the slow cooker, stir, turn on high and allow it to boil. I do not know how long it will take for it to come to a boil, and it will depend on the size of your slow cooker too. But the short answer is: yes, you can make this in a slow cooker.
If you still think it is too thin once it has cooled down to warm, heat it back up–don’t let it boil this time–and add some more shredded cheese. Stir until melted.
If your dip seems too thick once it has cooled to warm, you can stir in a bit more evaporated milk to thin it out some. Depending on how thick it is and how thin you want it, you may only need 2 Tablespoons of milk, or you might need half a cup or more. Just add it a little at a time and stir well. Check the texture, and stop adding milk when you’re happy with the thickness.
Use a generous cup of your favorite jarred salsa if you don’t have any RoTel in the house. It will work just fine, and you will have invented your own unique version of chili cheese dip.
Absolutely you can. You can either use a can of chili with beans or you can add some canned black or pinto beans to the pot. Depending on how beany you want your dip, you could add half or a whole can of rinsed, drained beans to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients. Or stir some refried beans into it for beany flavor without whole beans.
Not unless the chili you are using is gluten-free. I usually use Hormel Chili-no-beans, and that has wheat starch in it for body. Check your labels carefully if using canned chili. As written, the rest of the ingredients are gluten-free.
The Secret to Making Creamy Cheese Sauce That Stays Smooth
There really is no secret, because I’m telling you, right? Here are the two magical ingredients that keep this dip smooth:
- Evaporated Milk
What makes these ingredients so special?
- The evaporated milk already has a lot of the water-part of milk boiled out of it, so it gives you a nice, creamy base.
- And the starch helps to keep the cheese from “breaking” and getting grainy.
For more on the science of how this dynamic duo of ingredients works to keep cheese sauce smooth, check out this article from Serious Eats: For Smooth , Stable Cheese Sauces, Evaporated Milk and Cornstarch Are Your Friends.
What Other Appetizers Can I Make for a Watch Party?
I hesitate to call it a “Super Bowl Party,” because not everyone is into that. But for any party where you need casual appetizers for a crowd you can’t go wrong with the any of these, you guys:
- Spicy Queso Dip
- Ham & Cheese Sliders
- Smoked Pimento Cheese
- Pepperoni Pinwheels
- Pizza Bread
- Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese
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Now that we have all the FAQ and how-to information out of the way, let’s get right to it, shall we?
I really hope you love this recipe, you guys! If you make it, please share a photo with me, either in the PCO Facebook Group or on instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef and using hashtag #pcorecipe. Thanks, and enjoy!
- 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 15 oz can chili, (no beans is my preference)
- 1 10 oz can RoTel, (any flavor. I have used the lime juice and cilantro kind and the chili-fixin's kind. Both work great)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1-3 teaspoons chipotle powder, (depending on how spicy you like things)
- 1 teaspoon mild, (or hot) chili powder (optional, for a little added oomph)
- 1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (use pepper jack if you'd like)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot in the order given.
- Stir well and turn on heat to medium.
- Heat, stirring frequently at first and then constantly as it heats up, until mixture comes to a boil.
- Allow to boil for about a minute.
- The dip will be fairly thin but will thicken as it cools to serving temperature.
- Serve warm.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in microwave on medium power or over medium heat on the stove top, stirring frequently.
To make in a slow cooker, just put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and set it on high. Stir every 30 minutes or so. Allow to come to a boil. Serve warm.
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Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 2 oz
Amount Per Serving Calories 125Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 23mgSodium 257mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 0gSugar 2gProtein 7g
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Enjoy the spicy chili cheese dip, and have a lovely day.
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Watch my easy New Year’s Eve appetizers web story here.