This creamy and meaty recipe for Chili Con Queso is the definition of delicious party fare! Featuring REAL ingredients, such as spicy chorizo, flavorful Tex-Mex seasonings, and not one but TWO types of melty cheeses – and NO processed Velveeta cheese! Best of all, you’ll only need 7 simple ingredients (plus a few pantry staples) and 15 minutes of hands-on preparation to make this restaurant-style chorizo cheese dip.
Update: This post was originally published in October 2014. I made edits to the post below, including adding more information about making the creamiest restaurant-style queso with chorizo at home!
About this recipe for chili con queso
Football and snack food go together like FSU and the National Championship 2014 title. (Yes, I absolutely HAD to go there. Sorry, not sorry.)
THIS dip, this amazing chorizo chili con queso, is everything a game day snack should be. It is rich and cheesy, perfectly meaty, and packed with a ton of flavor. Plus, it can be made boozy (!!!) if you add in tequila. It most definitely belongs on the table at your next football watching, trash talkin’, food munchin’ gathering.
Oh, and did I mention this Mexican cheese sauce is perfectly golden, with a smidgen of garnet if you squint *just* right at the diced tomatoes? Is that a sign or what? I’m gonna go ahead and say yes. Go Noles!
Why you’ll love this chorizo cheese dip
No matter what team you cheer for, or which sport you choose to watch, one thing everyone will be able to agree on is that this crowd-pleasing chili con queso recipe is a surefire winner! It’s rich and creamy, nice and meaty, and tongue-tinglingly spicy.
In short, it’s everything you could possibly want from a chip dip. Aside from being lick-the-bowl delicious, this recipe for queso con chile is also:
- Quick & Easy. You only need 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time to get a bowl of this liquid gold on the table.
- Scalable. Feel free to double (or triple!) the recipe depending on the size and hunger of your crowd.
- Easily Adaptable. Made it spicier or milder, swap in different cheeses, make it pork-free or vegetarian… the options are endless!
Now, go put on your team colors, grab a cold brewski and a bag of your favorite chips from the kitchen, and share this dip with some friends. Cheers!
What is Chili con Queso?
Chili con queso, also known as queso con chile, Mexican cheese sauce, or simply “queso” is a hot appetizer or side dish featuring a blend of melted cheese with spicy chili peppers and sometimes ground chorizo sausage, beef, or pork. This smooth, creamy cheesy dip is typically served with tortilla chips for dipping; however, it can also be used as a condiment or sauce for various Tex-Mex dishes, such as fajitas, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and more. (Tex-Mex is slang for a mixture of both Mexican and Texan cuisines. This Southwestern approach to cooking is typically represented in the spicy-style of Mexican-American food found in Texas and other border states, such as Arizona and California.)
Ingredients in chili con queso recipe
- Neutral Oil – Optional. The chorizo should have enough fat that you don’t need to add oil to the pan for sautéing. However, if your sausage is lean, you may need to use a splash or two of oil.
- Mexican Pork Chorizo – I typically use ground chorizo sausage (versus links) because it saves time on prep and clean up. Plus, they cost the same, so why not? But, use what you love – just make sure you remove and discard the casing and chop the sausage up before starting the recipe.
- Substitution: Swap in hot breakfast sausage, hot Italian sausage, or turkey sausage instead.
- Yellow Onion – For sweetness.
- Substitution: Red or white onions will also work here.
- Jalapeno Peppers – If you prefer mild queso dip with very little spicy heat, make sure you remove and discard the seeds and ribs from the chile peppers.
- Substitution: You can also use serrano peppers or a habanero for a spicier dip. Or a poblano or canned diced green chiles for milder flavor. And, you can also use chipotles in adobo for a spicy-smoky combo.
- Garlic – For depth of flavor.
- Substitution: Fresh is best, but you can swap in about ½ teaspoon of garlic powder or a teaspoon of jarred minced garlic instead.
- Spices – A mix of ground cumin and smoked paprika lends an earthy, smoky taste.
- Substitution: Feel free to swap in chili powder or fajita seasoning (but reduce the amount of salt you add since this blend already has salt).
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper – For flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour – For thickening.
- Substitution: Swap in your favorite 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
- Half-n-Half – For rich and creamy mouthfeel.
- Substitution: Use heavy cream for a super rich and thick queso dip.
- Monterey Jack Cheese – For mild, melty goodness.
- Substitutions: Trade in whatever mild, melty cheese you love. Queso quesadilla, mozzarella (not fresh), or even mild cheddar will do the trick.
- Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese – For a bit of piquancy and even more melty deliciousness.
- Substitution: You can also use medium or sharp cheddar instead.
What you’ll want for serving
- Pico de Gallo – While entirely optional, this Mexican cheese sauce is traditionally topped with a dollop of authentic pico de gallo.
- Substitutions: Sliced green onions, cilantro, or your favorite salsa will all work too!
- Guacamole – Optional, for garnish.
- Jalapeños – Both pickled and fresh jalapeños work great!
- Tortilla Chips – Optional, for serving and dipping.
- Substitutions: If you don’t mind getting messy, warm tortillas are also awesome with this queso chip dip.
Chili cheese dip variations
I absolutely love this chili con queso recipe just the way it is written, but there are always plenty of opportunities to customize it to your liking. There are no rules here people. You really can’t go wrong when we are talking about a chorizo cheese dip! Here are a few ideas to try:
- Not a fan of chorizo? Use ground breakfast sausage.
- Looking to cut back on some calories? Swap out the chorizo for ground turkey spiced up with taco seasoning, or 86 it altogether.
- Want more vegetables? Add some sautéed diced mushrooms or a variety of bell peppers.
- Need more spice? Use habaneros or serranos.
- Want less spice? Use poblanos or canned roasted green chiles.
- Love more of a smoky flavor? Use canned chipotles in adobo.
- Need gluten-free queso? Swap in your favorite cup-for-cup AP gluten-free flour blend.
- Make it boozy and LIGHT IT ON FIRE. Add a splash of tequila! If you are looking to put your party guests on their bums, feel free to amp up the amount. The tequila deglazes the pan and just gives the chorizo cheese dip an extra little zing of flavor, plus it allows you to flambé. (Maybe it’s the restaurant person in me, but fire is FUN!)
- Or, if you aren’t a tequila person, don’t get hung up on it. Just leave it out, or use a different liquor – preferably one that is still highly flammable, like 151 – because I know you totally want to light this on fire.
How to make queso con chile
This insanely delicious and meaty cheese dip is a cinch to throw together. Here’s how it’s done:
- Cook Chorizo. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and lightly season it with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into large crumbles, until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Cook Veggies. Return the skillet to medium heat. Then add the onion and jalapeno to the pan. Season with a ¼ teaspoon of each, cumin and smoked paprika. And season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add Flour. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add Half-and-Half. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly pour in 1 ½ cups of the cream into the pan while whisking. Bring to a gently simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the cream thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add Cheese. First, reduce the heat to low. Then add the cheeses to the skillet, one handful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the cheese to fully melt before adding the next handful. Repeat, adding cheese one handful at a time and stirring, until all the cheese is in the pan.
- Add Half of the Chorizo to the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or seasoning for flavor; half-and-half if the cheese dip is too thick, etc.
- Garnish & Serve. Finally, transfer chili con queso to a large serving bowl or serve directly from the skillet. Spoon the remaining chorizo into the center of the dip. Then, garnish with your favorite Mexican toppings, such as fresh cilantro and Pico de Gallo. Serve immediately with tortilla chips and enjoy!
Tips for the best Mexican cheese sauce
Making this beautifully cheesy dip is quite simple, but I do have a few things for you to keep in mind:
- Grate your own cheese. While it might be tempting to take the shortcut of buying packaged, pre-shredded cheese, RESIST THE URGE. Those little shreds are coated with a starchy substance to keep them from melting back into one big glob in the bag, which unfortunately means they won’t melt well when you actually want them to. For the BEST chorizo cheese dip you MUST use blocks of cheese and shred them yourself.
- Beware the seeds and white membranes of spicy chiles. Why? This is where most of the capsaicin – the compound that tastes “hot” – lives. Remove them if you want a milder flavor. ALSO, be sure that you wash your hands, knife, and cutting board very thoroughly after handling jalapeños, serranos, or any other spicy pepper. Just trust me, you don’t wanna accidentally touch your eye or use the restroom before you get the juices off your fingers. 🙅♀️😖🙅♀️
- Use a mini crockpot to keep it warm. As with most cheesy dips, queso is best served warm.
FAQs: queso cheese dip
Is chili con queso actually Mexican?
Generally speaking, the “queso” you get from most bars and restaurants is actually a Tex-Mex tradition that started in the 1900s. Since this Mexican cheese sauce recipe actually uses REAL cheese (and not Velveeta), it’s actually like a hybrid chili con queso meets queso fundido and/or queso flameado, which are both traditional Mexican dishes.
Is chili con queso spicy?
While there is definitely a bit of heat in this cheesy chip dip from the jalapeño and spicy Mexican sausage, the sheer amount of dairy prevents it from being burn-your-mouth spicy. Why? The milk protein known as casein actually helps to prevent the capsaicin from binding to your flavor receptors. THE MORE YOU KNOW, amirite? 🌈⭐️
Serving suggestions for queso con chili
Chili con queso pairs beautifully with football season, cold beers, and friendly ribbing about whose team reigns supreme. (BTW, that’s FSU, in case you were wondering. 😂)
This delightful bowl of ooey-gooey, meaty molten cheese dip is best served with tortilla chips, Fritos (I love that they’re shaped like spoons so you can get the right chip-to-dip ratio), crispy taquitos or flautas, and/or warm corn or flour tortillas to dip in it. However it also makes an excellent finishing sauce for traditional Mexican dishes, such as burritos, chimichangas, and quesadillas.
It’s also great (albeit not traditional) when served with fries, crispy potatoes, soft pretzels, or anything else that’s good for dipping into a vat of yumminess.
Storing Mexican cheese dip
This chorizo cheese dip should be fine at room temperature for up to 2 hours after setting it out.
Allow any leftover queso cheese dip to cool completely to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. Place in the fridge and store for up to 5 days.
To reheat, zap it in the microwave in 30-45 second intervals, stirring between each time, until hot and melty. Or you can also reheat it on the stovetop. Feel free to add a splash of milk as needed to thin it out.
Alright, my friends. Let me know if you think this Chili con Queso is gouda by commenting below. In queso you have any questions, you can drop them there, too! Until next time, just remember: I think you’re grate!
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How to make the best chorizo queso cheese dip at home👇
Chili con Queso Recipe
- 1 Large Skillet or Wide Saucepan
- 1 Paper Towel-Lined Plate
- 1 Wooden Kitchen Spoon
- 1 Whisk
- Neutral Oil canola or vegetable – as needed (SEE NOTES)
- 8-10 ounces Mexican Pork Chorizo – casing removed if applicable (sub: spicy sausage, ground beef or ground pork) (SEE NOTES)
- ½ large Yellow Onion – peeled & finely diced (about ¾ cup)
- 2 large Jalapeno Peppers – finely diced (sub: serrano or poblano) (SEE NOTES)
- 2-3 cloves Garlic – peeled & minced
- ½ tsp EACH: Ground Cumin + Smoked Paprika - DIVIDED
- Salt and Pepper – to taste
- 1 TBS All-Purpose Flour - leveled
- 1 ½ to 2 Cups Half-and-Half (sub: heavy cream)
- 6 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese - shredded
- 6 ounces Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese - shredded
- Optional Garnish: Pico de Gallo
- Optional Serving: Tortilla Chips
- Cook chorizo: Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and season with ¼ teaspoon of each – cumin and paprika. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into large crumbles, until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Cook veggies: Use a paper towel to blot all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan; or add oil if needed. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno to the pan. Season with a ¼ teaspoon of each, cumin and smoked paprika. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add flour: Sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add half-and-half: Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly add 1 ½ cups of the cream to the pan while whisking. Bring to a gently simmer, whisking continuously, reducing heat as necessary to prevent the mixture from boiling. Gently simmer, whisking constantly, until the cream thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add cheese one handful at a time: Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheeses to the skillet, one handful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the cheese to fully melt before adding the next handful. Repeat, adding cheese one handful at a time and stirring, until all the cheese is added and melted.
- Add half the chorizo: Add half of the cooked chorizo to the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or seasoning for flavor; half-and-half if the cheese dip is too thick, etc.
- Garnish and serve: Transfer chili con queso to a large serving bowl or serve directly from the skillet. Spoon the remaining chorizo into the center of the dip. Then, garnish with your favorite Mexican toppings, such as fresh cilantro and Pico de Gallo. Serve immediately with tortilla chips and enjoy!
- Sausage: I typically use ground chorizo sausage (versus links) because it saves on prep time and clean up. Plus, they cost the same at my store - so why not? However, you can absolutely use sausage links – just make sure you remove and discard the casing and break or chop the sausage up before starting the recipe.
- Oil: The chorizo should have enough fat that you don’t need to add oil to the pan for sautéing. However, if your sausage is on the lean side, you may need to add a splash or two of oil to the pan to prevent it from sticking. You'll need about 1 tablespoon of fat or oil - use your best judgement.
- Pepper: If you prefer mild queso dip with very little spicy heat, make sure you remove and discard the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno peppers. On the other hand, you can substitute the jalapenos with 2-3 serrano peppers for a spicier dip. Or, use a poblano for a smoky, spicy flavor.
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