Y’all, if you love spicy queso dip, or you think the queso you get at your favorite Mexican restaurant isn’t as spicy as you’d like it to be, I’m here to help teach you how to make spicy nacho cheese.

We’re going to make some spicy easy queso dip, and you will be so very happy! Let’s get to it.

If you like your dips a little more meaty, try my spicy chili cheese dip. It’s super good.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my appetizer recipes. Thanks for stopping by!

Spicy cheese dip in a green ramekin topped with salsa, diced jalapenos and chipotle powder along with chips ready for serving.

Why This Recipe?

Give me some truly flavorful cheese dip with bits of green chile and diced, fire-roasted tomato in it, and that’s a dip I will pay attention to.

This queso is more nuanced in flavor than the mass-produced kinds that are often flavored with oleoresins and whatnot.

This dip is

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  • flavorful
  • rich
  • thick

It uses two kinds of cheese, both for flavor and for mouthfeel. No graininess here, friends. Just smooth, spicy, molten cheese.

You can also adjust the heat to your liking by adding more of the spicy ingredients. Or less.

How to Make It

This cheese dip is not at all hard to make. I’ll walk you through it before we get down to the recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Ingredients

Collage ingredients for making spicy queso dip.
  • butter: salted or unsalted is fine. You’ll need less additional salt if starting with salted butter
  • flour: use all-purpose here. To make it gluten-free, you can sub in cornstarch for the flour.
  • onion powder: or dehydrated onion
  • garlic powder: or granulated garlic
  • Ro-Tel: use any flavor you like here. They have a spicy version that is quite good. If you don’t have Ro-Tel, substitute a small can of diced tomatoes (undrained) and a small can (drained) of diced green chiles
  • half and half: You can substitute whole milk or 2% milk here, but you want to keep the fat content fairly high so the sauce doesn’t break when you reheat it. Don’t sub anything less than 2%, and stay away from heavy cream because your sauce will just be too rich. Yes, that is a thing!
  • pepper jack cheese: for body, “meltability,” and flavor
  • American cheese: for body. American cheese melts really smoothly. It also adds to the orange color, but you can sub in white American if you’d like. Feel free to use Velveeta as well. If there’s one thing Velveeta is great at, it’s melting into smooth deliciousness
  • chipotle powder: adds smoke and spice. You can also sub in your favorite chili powder blend if you prefer. Or even cayenne if you’re not concerned about smokiness. Smoked hot paprika would be great here too
  • ground cumin: I love the flavor of cumin, so I use it a lot. It’s not strictly necessary here, but I find it brings a lovely earthiness to the sauce
  • salt: add at the end. I normally advocate for salting as you go, but some of the individual ingredients already contain salt, so taste and adjust at the end as necessary

Procedure

If you have never made a roux, trust me that it’s the hardest part of the whole process, and making a roux is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Melt fat in a pan (butter, oil, bacon grease, etc)
  2. Add an equal amount of flour
  3. Cook the two together, stirring the whole time, until it turns a pale golden color

Even if you don’t recognize that procedure as “making a roux,” you may recognize it as the first step to making a creamy mac and cheese on the stove top.

Once you understand the basics of making a roux, this queso really does come together quickly.

  • Melt butter together with some of the spices.
  • Add flour and cook until bubbly and golden.
  • Heat half and half until hot but not boiling.
  • Whisk hot half and half into the cooked roux a bit at a time.
  • Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer 3-4 minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes and green chiles (I use RoTel) and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and add the cheese, a bit at a time, stirring until smooth between each addition.
  • Season with additional spices and serve.

PRO TIP: At this point, you can stir in any cooked pasta you like and make a spicy stove top mac and cheese.

Watch Me Make This Cheese Sauce on Facebook Live

If you’re a fan of watching people cook in real time so you know what to expect, I made this on Facebook live. Here’s the video. It’s about 35 minutes long, but know you can make this queso in about 15 minutes or so.

NOTE: This video is not for the exact recipe in this post, but the procedure is exactly the same. Feel free to make your own variation with your favorite cheeses and spices.

https://www.facebook.com/PastryChefOnline/videos/1732581613433945/

Why Start with a Roux?

This queso is based on a roux, a cooked combination of equal parts fat and flour that serves two purposes in the recipe:

  1. it adds body,
  2. it prevents the cheese from getting grainy and sad from the heat during cooking. (Reheating is another story.)

Since this queso is roux based, it is not a gluten free queso.

PRO TIP: To make this gluten-free, substitute cornstarch for the flour in the roux.

If you aren’t gluten-free, you’re going to love this queso as is, friends.

If you’re looking for a cheese dip that is not roux-based, try my spicy chili cheese dip. If you can find a can of gluten-free chili (or use homemade) you can absolutely make that gluten free as well.

How to Reheat Queso

A small green cast iron pan with homemade nacho cheese in it and chips on the side.
You can make this spicy queso thicker by upping the amount of roux and/or by adding additional cheese. Have it your way!

This spicy queso turns into a block of solid cheese in the fridge.

To reheat:

  • spoon out a portion into a microwave safe dish or to a small saucepan
  • Add a splash of whole milk or half and half and heat gently
  • Use power level 3-4 in the microwave in 30 second bursts or heat over medium-low heat on the stove, stirring constantly just until hot.
  • Don’t let it boil.

If it boils, it has the potential to get grainy even with the roux, so low and slow is the name of the game.

It will regain its liquid texture as it warms up.

Q & A

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes. Substitute cornstarch for the flour in the roux, and check all your other ingredients to make sure they are gluten-free.

How can I make this spicier?

Spice this nacho cheese up even more by adding minced pickled jalapenos to the sauce. If you like things super spicy, go with a judicious amount of minced habanero. You can also increase the amount of ground chipotle for more smoky spiciness.

How can I make my queso thicker?

To thicken up your sauce, you can either add a touch more flour to your roux, reduce the amount of dairy a little, and/or add additional cheese.

How long will it keep in the fridge?

Since there are no preservatives and this dip is dairy based, refrigerate for up to a week but really no longer than that. It does make a lot, so plow through it or make a half recipe. Which brings me to:

Can I make a half recipe?

Absolutely. Cut all the ingredient amounts in half. And to make a ton of queso, you can even double amounts.

How do I reheat this?

Reheat very gently. Add a splash of half and half and heat on the stove over medium low heat, stirring frequently until hot. Don’t let it boil, or you run the risk of having the cheese get grainy. You can also reheat in the microwave. Add a splash of milk or half and half to your container and reheat in bursts on medium power, stirring every 45 seconds or so until melted and hot but not boiling.

More Delicious Dips

If you’re here for the spicy queso, you probably have all you need.

But in case you’re considering other cheesy dipping options, you may enjoy my beer cheese sauce that I serve with soft pretzels.

And if you like to go super old school, I suggest giving a classic Swiss Cheese fondue a spin.

A Note About Measurements

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07/22/2024 07:15 am GMT
5 golden stars for rating recipes
A bowl of spicy queso with tortilla chips.
Spicy queso dip is perfect either for dipping or for pouring over a huge platter of nachos.
spicy queso dip in a white bowl

Spicy Queso Dip

Jennifer Field
This spicy queso dip makes about 3 cups, so it’s plenty to share or to make for serious game day snacking. It will hold just fine in a small slow cooker set on low for up to 3 hours, especially if you stir it occasionally. Enjoy!
4.50 from 2 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Servings 24 servings
Calories 117 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 can Ro-Tel (I used fire-roasted, but any tomato-green chile mixture will do)
  • 12 oz pepper jack cheese shredded
  • 6 oz American cheese shredded or torn into pieces (if you have slices)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste (I probably used more than that)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder (use more or less depending on your love of spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (use more or less depending on your love of cumin)

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until bubbly.
  • Add the flour, onion powder and garlic powder and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the half and half a bit at a time, stirring well to incorporate.
  • Bring to a boil and then let simmer 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the can of Ro-Tel, juices and all, and bring just to a boil, stirring frequently.
  • Turn off the heat and make sure the sauce is not boiling before adding the cheese a handful at a time. Stir each addition in well until melted before adding more. You may occasionally have to turn the heat back on, but to no more than medium-low and for only enough time to heat the sauce enough to melt the remaining cheese. You don’t want this to boil once you’ve added cheese.
  • Season to taste with the kosher salt, chipotle powder and cumin.
  • Serve warm with tortilla chips or poured over your nachos.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

If you don’t want any tomato in your spicy queso dip, substitute a small can or two of diced green chiles for the Ro-Tel. If you like things really spicy, feel free to sub in (or add in addition to the chiles) chopped, pickled jalapenos.
You can easily cut this recipe in half–or double it.
Highly recommended: mix with cooked pasta for a Mexican-style mac and cheese.
Nutritionals are based on 24 servings of approximately an ounce each (2 Tablespoons)

Nutrition

Serving: 2TablespoonsCalories: 117kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 5gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 302mg
Keyword dip, nacho cheese, queso, spicy queso dip
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today.

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8 Comments

  1. This looks interesting, but I live in a rural area in SW Arizona, and its impossible to find American style cheese. All I a finding is the plasticy stuff individually wrapped that may or may not have al least whey from cheese in it, but is mostly whipped oils, food grade plasticizers and colorants. I have made my own American cheese, which I think of as a cheddar and milk based jello. I have some allergies to artificial additives in Velveeta, so do you have any substitutes other than driving 180 miles to the nearest metro area to buy American cheese at costco?

    Going to sign up for your newsletter after I post this.

    1. Hey, Ambre! You can 100% leave out the American cheese and just use all cheddar or a mixture of good melting cheese. I suggest American cheese because it melts particularly smoothly, but you can make this queso without. The roux helps to keep the queso smooth. Another idea is to make vegan queso. Stay with me! This one is based on cauliflower and soaked cashews, and it is incredibly creamy and delicious. It doesn’t have quite the same “stretch” as traditional queso, but it’s every bit as smooth, creamy, and flavorful. Give it a try and flavor it with as much spice as you like. I’m not vegan (obviously) but this stuff is really excellent! https://healthyslowcooking.com/vegan-queso-with-a-surprise-healthy-ingredient/

  2. Seriously, Jenni? You are EVIL! I thought I knew what I wanted for Super Bowl but now I have to rethink that one! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this dip.

    Sharing on Desserts Required’s FB page next week. March Madness is around the corner, too!

4.50 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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