Caramelize Onions With Jalapeños For An Elevated Queso Experience

It is no surprise that queso is such a popular dip; the mouthwatering combination of cheese, chilis, and milk, along with some other herbs and spices, results in a savory and spicy yet creamy sauce you can't help but keep going back to. At its most simple, a typical queso recipe is inoffensively plain. This is actually a perk, as it allows each individual cook to customize their mix-ins to suit their unique palate and preferences. While there are many different ways to make your queso one of a kind, we can't help but recommend a lesser-chosen addition. For a truly memorable queso experience, try adding spicy, jalapeño-infused caramelized onions.

Onions themselves are not an unusual ingredient to include in queso; however, the onions used are typically raw white onions, which add a bit of a bite and a pop of fresh crunchy texture. In this trick, we suggest instead to caramelize the onions in order to transform them into a softer, jammier ingredient that is bursting with umami and sweetness. Hot peppers are traditionally added into queso already, like in this smoky white queso recipe, so this is also a great opportunity to toss a few jalapeños into the pot. The peppers will make the onions slightly spicy, and the onions will make the peppers slightly sweet, creating a complex, balanced flavor.

Spicing things up right from the start

Successfully combining spicy jalapeños with sweet, sticky caramelized onions begins with choosing the right produce. Since the flavor of the onions will be competing with that of the peppers, it is important to select a type of onion that has a high sugar content and low sulfur content, such as a sweet onion or a Spanish onion. This will allow the onions to be as flavorful as possible. Additionally, you may want to select a jalapeño that will have the best spice level for your palate. You can tell how hot a jalapeño is based on its appearance. Green, smooth peppers will be less spicy, while peppers with white specks or striping will pack more heat. Once you've selected your veggies, simply prepare and caramelize them together as you usually would the onions on their own.

It is easy to adjust this pairing to taste by changing the proportions — that is, using more or fewer peppers — or by making substitutions or additions. Extreme spice hounds may wish to swap out jalapeño peppers in favor of habanero or serrano peppers. Meanwhile, those who want little to no spice may prefer poblano peppers. Try tossing in spices like cumin or chili powder to add extra earthiness or smokiness respectively, or drizzle in some fresh lime juice to amp up the acidity. Don't be afraid to be adventurous; after all, customizing your queso is what this hack is all about.