Smoky White Queso Dip Recipe

Who doesn't love melted cheese? Whether it's in a warm pot of fondue, sandwiched inside of a grilled cheese, or fried up in a breaded crust, this creamy creation is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. For today's cheesy delight, we're going to make a delicious smoky white queso dip, Tex-Mex style, and it will come together in about 10 minutes. This recipe is ideal for game-day celebrations, potlucks, and house parties — it can't be turned down! 

"Whenever I go to casual Mexican restaurants, I'm always ordering a bowl of queso dip for the table," says recipe developer Alexander Roberts. "It's essential, and part of the experience." When trying to replicate a batch of queso at home, Roberts strongly recommends using the white American cheese called for in this recipe. "It's nearly foolproof; it melts better than other cheeses and can stay melted for a while," he says. "Trying blends of mozzarella, Colby Jack, and other cheeses sometimes led to the mixture seizing if it needed to be melted again." White American cheese is most often available behind the deli counter and may have to be ordered by the pound.

Gather the ingredients for smoky white queso dip

The main ingredient in queso is ... you guessed it, cheese! We'll be using white American cheese for this queso recipe. For the smokiness in the dip, we're going to use a bit of mezcal, as well as smoked paprika. Half-and-half will be used to help break down the cheese into a melty dip, and a can of green chiles and a little chili powder will add heat. We'll also be using a little butter, a garlic clove, a small jalapeño, and sliced scallions for garnish. When ready to serve, tortilla chips, of course, are perfect for this dip.

Step 1: Melt the butter

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat.

Step 2: Add aromatics and seasonings

Add jalapeño, garlic, paprika, chili powder, and salt.

Step 3: Cook the mixture for 1 minute

Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Step 4: Pour in the mezcal

Add mezcal.

Step 5: Stir until the mezcal evaporates

Cook, stirring, until mezcal evaporates, about 2 minutes.

Step 6: Add the remaining ingredients

Add green chiles, half-and-half, and cheese.

Step 7: Cook until melted

Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until fully melted.

Step 8: Garnish and serve

Pour queso into a serving bowl, garnish with scallions, and serve with tortilla chips.

Can smoky white queso dip be made ahead of time?

When you're planning a large gathering or dinner party, it's always a good idea to think ahead and prepare anything you can in advance. Queso, however, is going to be best when prepared right before the event. Luckily, this recipe comes together in less than 10 minutes, so it won't be too much of an issue to make it right before you want serve it. 

If you want to be extra prepared and ensure things go smoothly, be sure to measure and chop everything out in advance (which is good practice for any recipe, even if you're not making it in advance). Just know that once the white American cheese has been melted, it will begin to firm up again. This smoky white queso dip can be made up to 15 minutes before serving time and kept on low heat, as long as it is stirred occasionally.

What other cheese besides white American cheese can I use for smoky white queso dip?

White American cheese can sometimes be tricky to find, so it's natural to think of an easier substitute. While it's been chosen for this recipe thanks to its superior melting ability and mild flavor, if you can't find it, there are some cheeses that will work in a pinch. ("But also, ask the person behind the cheese counter at the grocery store — they almost always have it!" Roberts encourages.) 

To prevent this queso dip from tasting too sharp or spicy, aim for a mild cheese like mozzarella or provolone. These cheeses are also pretty great at melting down. Try using ¼ pound cubed mozzarella and ¼ pound provolone. For a sharper version, swap ¼ pound white cheddar in place of the provolone or mozzarella. If it seems too thick once melted, stir in 1-2 tablespoons more half-and-half at a time, and whisk to fully incorporate it before adding more. 

Smoky White Queso Dip Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
Need a quick and crowd-pleasing appetizer for a party? This spicy, creamy, cheesy queso dip comes together fast in just one pot.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
7
minutes
Servings
2
cups
hand scooping tortilla chip into queso dip
Total time: 12 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small jalapeño, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mezcal
  • ¼ cup canned fire-roasted green chiles, drained
  • ⅓ cup half-and-half
  • ½ pound white American cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
Directions
  1. Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Add jalapeño, garlic, paprika, chili powder, and salt.
  3. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add mezcal.
  5. Cook, stirring, until mezcal evaporates, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the green chiles, half-and-half, and cheese.
  7. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until fully melted.
  8. Pour queso into a serving bowl, garnish with scallions, and serve with tortilla chips.
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