Chile con queso (Spanish for “chilli with cheese”), sometimes described simply as queso, is an appetiser or side dish of melted cheese and chilli pepper typically served in Tex-Mex restaurants as a dip for tortilla chips.
Chile con queso (also spelled chili con queso or chilli con queso) is a part of Tex-Mex and Southwestern cuisine, originating in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua as a version of Queso chihuahua and Queso flameado. Chile con queso is predominantly found on the menus of Tex-Mex restaurants in Texas and other U.S. states.
Chile con queso is a smooth, creamy sauce, used for dipping, that is made from a blend of melted cheeses (often Velveeta or another processed cheese, Monterey Jack or cream cheese), cream, and chilli peppers; the latter sometimes in the form of the canned tomato and chilli pepper mix sold by Ro-Tel. Many restaurants serve chile con queso with such added ingredients as pico de gallo, black beans, guacamole, and picadillo.
Chile con queso is a warm dish, heated to a desired temperature. Chile con queso can be eaten with tortillas, tortilla chips, or special queso chips which are thicker than regular tortilla chips. It can also be used as a condiment on fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, migas, quesadillas or any other Tex-Mex dish.
While Tex-Mex restaurants offer chips and salsa free of charge, queso is usually offered for an additional charge. It can be made with various cheeses. Usually it is white or yellow in colour.
Although chilli con queso is commonly called “queso”, it should not be confused with “cheese dip,” which is specifically cheese without the peppers.
For the picadillo
- ¾ tablespoon vegetable oil
- 450 g lean beef mince (ground beef)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ½ green capsicum (bell pepper), chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 cup 250ml chicken stock
For the queso and assembly
- 2¼ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 large poblano chilli, chopped
- 3 fresh jalapeño chillies, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1½ tablespoons plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1½ cups or more milk
- 225 g Colby or Gouda cheese, grated
- 225 g Tasty cheese, grated
- pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, chopped chives, chopped fresh coriander, and corn chips (for serving)
To make the picadillo
- Heat oil in a large skillet over high. Cook minced beef, breaking up with a spoon, until browned on all sides but not completely cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, leaving as much fat in pan as possible.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, capsicum, and garlic, stirring, until tender but not browned, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add cumin and chilli powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add chicken stock and reserved beef along with any accumulated juices to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the skillet, until liquid is evaporated, 8–10 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, let sit until ready to use.
For the queso and assembly
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, chilli, jalapeños, and garlic, stirring, until tender but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt, and continue to cook until juices have evaporated, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until incorporated, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and continue to cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low, gradually add both cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted and the queso is smooth. If it seems too thick, stir in a little more milk.
- Sprinkle with chives and coriander. Serve hot dip with chips.