In just 5-minutes with 5-ingredients, have restaurant-worthy homemade queso right in your kitchen! Made with real Pepper Jack cheese to add a little kick to this creamy, smooth, irresistible cheese dip!
Shout it from the rooftops: this is the best queso recipe around. It’s made with just 5 simple ingredients (while also being really customizable), it’s ready in just 5-minutes, it’s a vegetarian-friendly appetizer, and is made with real cheese (no Velveeta this time!).
It’s smooth and creamy and stays oh-so-dippable for a good amount of time. Once it does cool off, while it yes thickens, it doesn’t become hard and inedible. Rather, it turns into a thicker cheese dip that’s just as delicious. Heat it up or continue to enjoy it at any temperature…
It’s the party dip of party dips, and now you can have restaurant-style queso right in the comfort of your own kitchen…so turn on the TV, grab a bag of chips, and pour yourself a margarita, because the party is here!
What is Queso?
The word queso is Spanish for “cheese”, also known as chile con queso, or cheese with peppers is the melted cheese dip which, as the name states, often has a blend of chili peppers, too. It’s often found in Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants in the United States served as an appetizer with tortilla chips.
It’s smooth, creamy, and oh so cheesy. While it is served as a warm dip, it can also be drizzled on entrees such as tacos, enchiladas, or fajitas.
5 Simple Ingredients for Easy Queso Dip
Yep, 5 simple ingredients to queso perfection.
Now, you can get all fancy and add all sorts of ingredients to queso, but for this recipe, we are sticking with the basics for making a creamy cheese dip. Feel free to add in other flavorful additions (more on that in a minute) but these 5 ingredients are the perfect place to start.
- Evaporated Milk: using evaporated milk instead of half-and-half or cream ensures a smooth, creamy texture. Sometimes other dairy products can separate or become grainy in cheese dips. Using evaporated milk results in the perfect texture every time.
- Cornstarch: helps to thicken the dip and keep the consistency.
- Pepper Jack Cheese: we’re multitasking with this cheese; it’s a creamy white cheese AND has peppers, so the dip gets a little kick without needing to find extra ingredients. Be sure to buy a block and shred it yourself!
- To make it without the few chilis that come with pepper jack cheese, try Monterey Jack or white American cheese instead.
- Garlic and Onion Powder: instead of sauteing onion for the dip, adding a little of each powder delivers flavor without time or chopping. That’s a win when you’re just craving queso ASAP!
- Salt: definitely be sure to taste test and add salt as needed to bring out the flavors in the dip. Remember, your chips will (likely) be salty, too, so keep that in mind. Hey…why not just taste test with a chip? 😉
Do not use pre-shredded cheese; it has a potato starch coating that inhibits smooth melting. Buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself for the best results.
How to Make Pepper Jack Queso Recipe
The simple run-down of this queso dip recipe looks like this:
As always, be sure to see the full recipe card below!
- Whisk together the evaporated milk, corn starch, salt, garlic, and onion powder. Bring it to a simmer, stirring frequently, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for a minute or two to start to activate the corn starch.
- Add the shredded pepper jack cheese in batches, stirring between each addition until it’s melted. This helps ensure the cheese is fully incorporated and melts evenly.
- Taste test, adjusting salt levels as needed.
- Transfer to a serving dish (or not), dig in, and enjoy!
If you prefer queso in a skillet, you can absolutely make this in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, or transfer it into one, and then stick it under the broiler for a little golden brown action on top.
One of the most fun ways to mix up queso blanco is by adding garnishes! Yes, toppings to add additional texture, if that’s your thing, flavor, and even a little more spice.
Here are some yummy ideas and variations, mix-and-match and see what’s your favorite!
- Jalapeno – thinly sliced or finely chopped and stirred in for extra spice
- Cilantro – chopped or roughly torn
- Diced Green Chiles – these would also be excellent stirred into the queso
- Diced Tomatoes – fresh, or add a dollop of pico de Gallo, or even stir a can of Rotel into the queso
- Spicy Black Beans – if you’re looking for a more texture-filled dip, similar to when ground taco meat is sometimes added
Keeping Queso Warm
If you’re on my side of normal, when a bowl of queso and tortilla chips are placed in front of you, they are inhaled in approximately 7.82 seconds.
Now, if you’re more reasonable, do note that as the cheese cools, it does become thicker and less drippy. There’s nothing wrong with this, however, if you’d like to keep it warm you have a few options:
- Place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds once it’s cooled and give it a good stir to heat back up.
- Place the cooked dip in a small crockpot or slow cooker on warm.
- If you’re enjoying it straight out of the cooking vessel, place it back on a burner over low, while stirring, until warmed again.
Storage & Reheating
I’m honestly not sure what leftover queso is, but if you happen to have any extra, simply place it in an airtight container in the fridge. Queso will last in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat queso, place it in a microwave-safe container and microwave in intervals, stirring in between, until heated through. The intervals help to make sure the dip doesn’t bubble over or burn; if you have a little bit left, I recommend 15-second intervals. For a more substantial bowl, you can go up to 30 seconds.
Alternatively, place the queso in a small saucepan and heat over low until warmed through, stirring frequently.
If the leftover queso seems a bit dry, add a splash of milk or cream while reheating. I will say, I haven’t had this issue, it has reheated well for me without any additional liquid.
This recipe is naturally vegetarian, as long as the cheese you purchase is not made with animal rennet.
Queso is also gluten-free, however, always be sure to check the specific ingredients you purchase to be sure they are in fact gluten-free if needed. And be sure to use specific gluten-free corn tortilla chips for serving.
5-Ingredient Queso (so easy!)
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch, reduce to 3/4 TBSP for a thinner sauce
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼-½ teaspoon garlic powder, see note
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 8 ounces pepperjack cheese, freshly shredded
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together evaporated milk, corn starch, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt until combined. Start with half the salt amount if you'd like, adding the rest to taste.
- Bring just to a light simmer (no more – don’t boil!) for 1-2 minutes while frequently stirring.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in the shredded cheese in batches, allowing each addition to melt completely. Taste test, adding additional salt as needed. If adding diced chiles or tomatoes, you can stir them in now, or transfer the dip to a serving dish and garnish as desired. Enjoy with tortilla chips.
- Garlic Powder: if you prefer more of a straight-up cheese flavor, reduce the garlic powder to 1/4 teaspoon. We love garlic around here, so 1/2 teaspoon is perfect for us, but you can taste the garlic. If you’re not sure, start with 1/4 and increase as you prefer.
- Do not boil; once it reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low. When cheese-based dips or soups get too hot to the point of boiling, they can become grainy.
- Keep stirring to ensure the cheese melts smoothly and the dip remains a consistent temperature.
- Storage: place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop until warmed through, stirring as needed.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.