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This Spicy Queso Dip For Two is a simple and crowd-pleasing snack! Whip it up in less than 20 minutes and serve with crunchy tortilla chips.
A restaurant-style snack
Move that salsa aside and bring on the queso! Honestly, can you think of a better snack than dipping chips in warm, melted cheese? I can’t!
I love queso dip, but sometimes I don’t want a huge batch of leftovers. All that melty, cheesy goodness - why waste it? This recipe is the perfect amount for just 2 or 3 people. You’ll be lucky if you end up with leftovers!
What is queso?
The word queso translates to “cheese” in Spanish. So basically it’s a cheese dip!
There are a couple of ways to make queso. This small-batch recipe is made with a simple roux (a mixture of butter and flour), milk, and cheese. You’ll find many different versions in jars at the grocery store or in restaurants, but I feel that the best queso is homemade.
A Texas staple
You might be surprised to learn that queso is not a traditional food from Mexico! While it does use flavors popular in Mexican dishes, like jalapenos and chipotle chili, queso happens to be the unofficial food of Texas.
It’s rumored that queso was invented in 1900 by Otis Farnsworth, who opened a restaurant featuring the dish in San Antonio, Texas. Not surprisingly, it quickly became one of the most popular options on his menu! The original recipe uses American cheese but has since been adapted to include a wide variety of cheeses.
Making queso dip for two is so easy and you only need simple ingredients! Check out my specifics on which ingredients to use below.
Let’s forget about what kind of cheese is best for queso for a second. I HIGHLY recommend using a fresh block of cheese rather than the pre-shredded stuff. The pre-shredded stuff has an anti-caking agent and will keep the queso dip from being smooth.
Grate either Monterey jack, Colby jack, mild cheddar cheese for this dip. My favorite is pepper jack because it melts well and adds a touch of extra heat.
No Velveeta here! While I definitely think there is a time and place for most foods (yes, even Velveeta), it’s not for this recipe. We want to use real cheese so the dip can have the best flavor.
Here’s where we achieve some real depth! Warm spices like chipotle chili powder, shallots, and garlic will add smokiness and spice to the dip. If you don’t have chipotle chili powder on hand, regular chili powder will work just as well!
We want to add just the right amount of heat so the queso dip leaves a small tingle on your tongue and doesn’t overwhelm us with spice. Jalapenos are perfect for this recipe because they’re delicious, and only a little spicy (with the seeds removed). If you love spicy food, use 1 or 2 jalapenos with the seeds intact or add a serrano pepper.
Does this queso recipe sound a little too spicy for you? Try my Avocado Cilantro Greek Yogurt Dip instead!
Super silky queso dip recipes require a dairy component. This will make the dip irresistibly creamy and smooth. Use a combination of whole milk and cream cheese, or half and half for an even richer dip.
How to make this recipe
I chose to make my queso on the stovetop because it offers more control and takes almost no time at all. Here’s how to make my Spicy Queso Dip for Two:
Step 1: Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat and melt the butter. Add the shallot, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
Step 2: Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute.
Step 3: Pour in ¼ cup of the milk, then the cream cheese. Whisk constantly and cook until thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes.
Step 4: Slowly whisk in the remaining ¼ cup of milk and cook until combined and starting to steam. Remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese. Whisk constantly until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.
Step 5: Stir in tomatoes and cilantro and serve immediately with chips!
If your dip isn’t hot enough, place over low heat, whisking constantly until the desired temperature. Add a little more milk to thin the dip if needed.
Helpful recipe tips
These tips will help make this queso recipe a breeze!
Have ingredients prepped early
My queso recipe moves very fast. Make sure your ingredients are chopped and laid out before making this recipe, otherwise, ingredients could burn.
Making queso ahead of time
Queso dip is a great recipe to make ahead and serve up to your friends when they arrive! You can reheat a batch in a saucepan over low heat with a splash of milk to smooth out the dip. Alternatively, use a mini slow cooker to keep the queso dip warm all evening long.
No fancy tools needed in this queso recipe! All you need is a small skillet (this small cast iron skillet works great!) and a whisk. A whisk will help ensure that the cheese dip stays smooth while cooking.
If you end up with leftovers, queso dip can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Make sure the dip is completely cooled before packing it away to maintain freshness! I wouldn’t recommend freezing queso, as this may change the texture of the cheese.
Serving the dip
A tasty and simple way to serve queso is in a small dish with nacho chips on the side. You can also layer the spicy cheese sauce on top of nachos, chipotle quesadillas, or tacos. Whatever you do, don’t forget the cocktails on the side!
Time to make a batch!
Alright, friend! Make a batch, snap a pic before (or after!) you devour this awesome dip, and tag me @cupofzest so I can see how much you like it!
Spicy Queso Dip for Two
- 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot about ½ shallot
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno about ½ jalapeno, seeded if you want it less spicy
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder regular chili powder works too!
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole milk, divided
- 1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature & cut into small pieces
- 3 ounces block pepper jack cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons seeded and finely chopped tomato
- 1 tablespoon cilantro
- chips to serve
- Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add shallot, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add flour and stir constantly for 1 minute.
- Add ¼ cup of milk and cream cheese. Whisking constantly, cook until thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in remaining ¼ cup milk and cook until combined and starting to steam.
- Remove from heat, and add in shredded cheese. Whisk constantly until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes and cilantro and serve immediately with chips!
- *If your dip isn’t hot enough, place over low heat, whisk constantly until desired temperature, adding a little more milk as needed.
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Hi this looks delicious! I'd like to ask if I don't have cream cheese or half and half could I make this by making more roux and add extra cheese?
Michelle Weiner says
Hi Veda! So glad you think it looks delish!
You can skip the cream cheese, it acts as a stabilizer, so you'll just need to be extra careful when adding the cheese at the end so the queso doesn't break (become grainy).
As for the half and half, you do need some kind of milk to replace it. So any kind of cow's milk is a good replacement or even heavy cream.
I would not add extra cheese though. The queso will become too thick.
I hope this helps, and just as an FYI, I haven't tested this recipe with the changes I suggested so I cannot guarantee that it will work (but I think it should!).
Let me know how it goes and thanks for the question!