At least once a week, my kids beg me to pick up take-out from their favorite Mexican restaurant. I usually say no because the restaurant is clear across town and driving there is more trouble than actually making dinner. Plus, I never understand what’s so special about this place; they order the most ordinary cheese quesadillas. They claim it’s all about the queso, which comes on the side with tortilla chips. I’ve tried several times to recreate this extraordinary queso (which, by the way, I suspect is made by melting a giant block of Velveeta-like processed cheese) but the verdict is always the same: “too fancy.” Finally, I came up with this version that suits them and suits me. It’s rich, creamy, a little spicy — and dangerously addictive when served hot with tortilla chips. I might even drive out of my way for it 😉
Begin by melting the butter in a medium saucepan.
Sauté the onions and jalapeños until soft, then add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.
Add the flour.
Cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.
Then pour in the half & half.
Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, or until thickened. Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the shredded cheese, whisking as you go.
When all of the cheese is incorporated, stir in the cumin, salt and tomatoes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; if you’d like more heat, add the optional red pepper flakes.
Serve the queso hot with tortilla chips. If you want to make it ahead of time, it reheats well. And if the dip cools while you’re serving it, it’s fine to reheat it in the microwave; just stop and stir at short intervals so it heats evenly. Enjoy!
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Chile Con Queso
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 large jalapeño pepper, finely diced (see note)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups half & half
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Pepper Jack cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons finely diced tomatoes (use only the flesh, no seeds or juice)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional for more heat
- Fresh chopped cilantro, optional for garnish
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapeños and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
- Add the half & half to the pot and whisk until the flour dissolves. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, a few minutes. Turn the heat down to low and gradually add the grated cheese, whisking and letting it melt as you go, until all of the cheese is incorporated. Add the cumin, salt and tomatoes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; for more heat, add the optional red pepper flakes. (If the dip seems too thick, you can thin it out with a bit more half & half or some milk.) Transfer to bowl and serve hot with tortilla chips. If the dip cools while you're serving it, you can reheat it in the microwave; just stop and stir at short intervals so it reheats evenly.
- Note: The queso can be made ahead of time and reheated on the stovetop. If it's too thick, add a bit of half and half or milk to thin it out.
- Note: If you touch the seeds of the jalapeño pepper, just be sure to wash your hands well and avoid touching your eyes.
- Serving size: 1/4 cup
- Calories: 253
- Fat: 21g
- Saturated fat: 13g
- Carbohydrates: 8g
- Sugar: 1g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 10g
- Sodium: 276mg
- Cholesterol: 64mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.