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Queso Dip is a simple dip that is made on the stovetop with shredded cheese, milk, salsa, dried seasonings, and cream cheese. Ready to serve in just about 20 minutes! This queso goes perfectly with tortilla chips as an appetizer or a side dish to any Mexican food dinner.
Easy Stovetop Queso Dip Recipe
Queso dip is a classic dip recipe that is perfect served with tortilla chips, used as a dip for taquitos, or as a drizzle over taco bowls or burrito bowls. We also love it drizzled over nachos! So many ways to use this queso dip that is so simple to make in one pan on the stovetop.
Made with freshly grated cheese, cream cheese, dried seasonings, salsa verde & pico de Gallo for tons of flavor, and milk for creaminess.
Here are the ingredients that you will need to make this queso dip. I also share some helpful tips so that you can replicate this recipe with great results in your own kitchen!
- Cream Cheese – Use full-fat cream cheese. It has a richer, better flavor to it and provides a thicker texture to the queso. Of course, if you prefer you can used reduced-fat cream cheese but the dip may be slightly different.
- Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese – We want a really smooth melted queso which is why I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself on a cheese grater. It will melt perfectly smooth and I think it tastes better. The pre shredded cheeses have a powder coating on it, which helps prevent clumping, but it also does not yield a smooth texture when melted.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Half and Half – This is basically a lightened version of heavy cream. You will easily find it by the heavy cream and other milks at the store.
- Salsa Verde – This is a jarred salsa that is all green and labeled as ‘salsa verde’.
- Pico de Gallo – Feel free to buy this or you can make your own at home. There are some substitutions for this, if wanted, which I have explained below in the post.
- Cumin, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika
How To Make Queso Dip (with No Velveeta Cheese)
Learn how to make homemade queso with the easy steps below. Be sure and read to the bottom of the post for the full recipe card with detailed instructions and all my tips.
Step One : Shred the cheese and cube the cream cheese so it’s ready to go.
Step Two : Add the cubed cream cheese, shredded cheeses, and half and half into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir everything together and let it cook until it’s starting to melt, about 5 minutes. Be sure and stir it frequently to ensure that it’s not burning.
Step Three : Once the cheese is mostly melted, add the salsa verde, pico de gallo, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Continue cooking it, while stirring frequently, until everything is melted smoothly together. This will take about 5 minutes.
Step Four : Remove the queso from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl or you can transfer it to a slow cooker (on WARM) which will keep the queso hot and melted throughout the event or gathering.
Tips For Success
Here are a few of my helpful tips that will make this recipe a success in your kitchen.
- Low & Slow : Don’t try to turn up the heat to melt the queso faster. This will result in the dairy products scalding which will ruin the queso. Keep the heat on medium-low, and slowly let the queso ingredients warm up and melt together.
- Don’t Use Pre-Shredded Cheese : For best results, and a smoother queso, shred the cheese yourself from a block of cheese.
- Full Fat Dairy Products : For best results, use full-fat cream cheese and half & half. If you wanted to use low-fat on at least one of them, I would recommend only using fat-free half & half. The full-fat cream cheese works the best and has the best flavor and texture. But again, for the best texture and taste, stick with the full-fat dairy products in this recipe.
- Make It Ahead of Time : If you are preparing this for an event or gathering, prepare as directed, and then move the queso to a slow cooker on the ‘warm’ setting. The queso will stay melted and hot throughout the event.
- Make It Extra Spicy! : You can make this queso as hot & spicy as you want! Add additional chili powder. Try adding some red cayenne pepper. Add a can of diced green chilies and/or jalapeños. Queso naturally is more of a spicy dip, the recipe below as written, has a slight kick to it but nothing crazy.
- Pico de Gallo : You can make this yourself or make it really easy and buy some from the grocery store. You will find it in the produce area by the guacamole and other cold, freshly made salsas.
Queso Dip FAQ’s
- Can I Make Queso Ahead of Time?
- Yes you can. Because this queso recipe is made with real shredded cheese, it will not harden and solidify as fast as the queso with velveeta.
- If you want to keep it warmed and melted for a period of time, transfer the queso to a slow cooker on the ‘warm’ setting and it will stay hot and melted for several hours.
- You can also make it ahead of time, bring it to room temperature, and then refrigerate it in an air-tight container with a lid (for up to 5 days). Heat it up on the stovetop or inside the slow cooker before you need it.
- I personally prefer to eat fresh queso, so I think it’s best eaten the same day you make it.
- How To Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Store leftover queso inside an air-tight container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.
- When ready to reheat, microwave or warm it up in a saucepan, on the stove top, until warmed and melted throughout.
- Substitution Ideas
- Salsa Verde : You can use any salsa or picante sauce instead of the salsa verde. You could even use additional pico de gallo as well.
- Pico de Gallo : If you don’t want to make this or buy it, just add additional salsa verde or salsa in it’s place.
- Spicy! : Add additional chili powder, red cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeños, or diced green chilies (mild, medium, or hot spice level) to spice things up.
- Half & Half : If you don’t have this you can combine 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup whole milk instead as a substitution for half and half milk.
- Is Queso Spicy?
- Yes, queso is naturally a spicy dip. The recipe below is a mild spice level. Luckily, the recipe can be easily adapted if you want it extra spicy or more mild in flavor.
- How Can I Make Mild Queso?
- If you want a mild queso you can try not using salsa verde or pico de gallo, and instead use a mild salsa. Pico de Gallo normally has spicier ingredients in it like white onion and jalapeños, so just use regular mild salsa if you want a more mild spice level.
- Do not add the chili powder or add less of it.
- Leave out the smoked paprika.
- Serving Suggestions for Queso
- It’s best to serve queso warm. Either serve it right away or keep it in a slow cooker on the warm setting, which will keep it hot and melted for several hours.
- Here are some ways that I love to serve this queso
- As a dip for taquitos
- Nacho topping
- With tortilla chips as a dip
- Taco toppings
- Use in any recipe that calls for queso
- A dip for quesadillas
More Mexican Food Inspired Recipes
- Easy Mexican Rice
- Salsa Verde Guacamole
- Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice
- Easy Taco Soup
- Quick & Easy Chicken Flautas
- Best Cafe Rio Dressing (Copycat Recipe)
- Turkey Taco Burrito Bowls
- Instant Pot Sante Fe Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Cheesy Ground Beef & Rice Enchiladas
- 7 Layer Dip
- Homemade Salsa
- 8 ounces cream cheese cubed small
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup pico de gallo (can substitute with salsa)
- 2 tablespoons salsa verde
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, add the cubed cream cheese, shredded cheeses, and half and half. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until cheese is almost melted.
- Once the cheese is almost melted, add the pico de gallo, salsa verde, cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Stir together.
- Continue cooking, stirring frequently to avoid the cheese from scorching to the pan, until the cheese and cream cheese is completely smooth and melted, and everything is melted together. * About 5-10 minutes. Don't turn up the heat to help it melt faster. Low & slow is the best way.
- Remove the queso from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. If wanting to keep it hot and melted for several hours, move the queso to a slow cooker on the 'warm' setting.
- If you don't want to use two different salsas (pico de gallo + salsa verde) you can instead just use a mild, medium, or hot salsa/picante sauce in it's place. I like the two different flavors of the salsa verde and pico, but you can use regular jarred salsa or picante sauce if wanted.
- If you don't have half and half you can make your own by mixing together 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup whole milk.
- For best results and smooth texture, shred the cheese from the block, do not use the bagged shredded cheese in this recipe.
- Spicy! The recipe as is, has a mild spice level to it. If you want it extra spicy add additional chili powder, add cayenne red pepper, add a can of diced green chiles (mild, medium, or hot spice level), or add a can of chopped jalapeños or fresh jalapeños work great too.
- If you want to make it even milder, try omitting the smoked paprika and reducing the chili powder to 1/4 teaspoon. You can also use a mild salsa or mild picante sauce in place of the pico de gallo and salsa verde.