Recipe: Chile Con Queso

velveeta free chile con queso | via vmac+cheese

You know that saying, “You can take the girl out of the place, but you can’t take the place out of the girl?” For me, “the place” is Texas. Like it or not, when you grow up in the Lone Star State, certain things just stay with you. This is true even after living in California for ten and a half years (oh my god, I can’t believe it’s been that long). There are a few things I still do that raise eyebrows here on the west coast and make people wonder just where I grew up. One is use of the word “y’all.” Sometimes I’m conscious of it, and won’t let it slip out; other times, it just flows right from my mouth. Another thing I simply can’t let go of is my undying love for Tex-Mex food, which you basically cannot find out here. When I moved from Austin to Los Angeles, it took me a long time to realize that the Mexican food I had grown up with was in fact not Mexican at all, but instead, a cheesy, saucy, completely unhealthy genre of awesome that really only existed in Tejas.

queso | via vmac+cheese

Chile con Queso, or “queso” as it’s usually called by Texans in the know (read: all of us) is about as Tex-Mex as you can get. It’s ubiquitous, in fact — on every single Mexican restaurant menu in Texas, it seems like. What is it exactly? The direct translation is “cheese with chiles” and that’s 50% true. Because in Texas, it’s typically made from melted Velveeta and a can of Rotel, which is a mixture of diced tomatoes and green chiles. It’s kind of gross to think how much of this stuff I ate growing up. Somewhere in the last few years, as the farmers market-loving, go-organic, eat-local San Francisco influence took hold, it became a lot harder for me to stomach that orange-y processed cheese that can sit on grocery store shelves for an untold number of years. But sometimes, a Texas gal just gets a craving for queso, so this past weekend, for playoff game snacks, I decided to do a little research and see if I could make a version with only real cheese and no Velveeta.

The result? Mostly successful. I think it might be hard to replicate the exact flavor of classic chile con queso, but this dip came pretty darn close. And, I love that while it’s indulgent and totally not healthy, at least it’s not made from plasticky cheese. I adapted the recipe from Homesick Texan, and modified it so that I could keep it warm in a slow cooker. You could totally bust this out for the Super Bowl two weekends from now! Here’s what to do:

velveeta free chile con queso

{Recipe adapted from Homesick Texan; photography by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese}


  1. 1.24.13
    christin said:

    I won’t lie, I also ate a lot of this…a lot but I’m so glad you posted this recipe. I’ll definitely use it the next time we’re wanting some queso!

  2. 1.24.13

    Your food photography is so great! I love queso every now and then..I may try this recipe out! Thanks for posting!

  3. 1.24.13

    Um, yes…. this is going to have to happen for the Superbowl.

    X Kenzie

  4. 1.24.13

    Great recipe for the upcoming Super Bowl. Will definetly be trying this!

  5. 1.24.13
    Tara said:

    I love Homesick Texan! Have you tried any other recipes?
    Peace, love, and mucho queso from Austin, TX.

  6. 1.24.13
    Alyssa said:

    This looks so yummy. I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of silly when it comes to Mexican food. I LOVE it all, but ONLY if it’s not spicy (which doesn’t really make sense I realize). However, this I’m totally into.

  7. 1.24.13
    Taylor said:

    HOLY Yumm!!!! This is one of my Husbands fav dips, I am going to have to try and make this for him – perhaps for the superbowl!

  8. 1.24.13
    Emily said:

    I can’t swallow (literally) cheese that comes in a cardboard box….on a shelf….it’s just not right. Thanks for a real-deal recipe! x

  9. 1.24.13
    rita said:

    oh man. i used to live for this. ate it almost every day after work. last time i got a craving i looked at a box of velveeta and just could not do it.

    i will be making this this weekend or next for sure!

  10. 1.24.13

    Mmmm. It’s freezing in DC and now all I want is a big bowl of melted cheese! haha. Looks great!

  11. 1.24.13


  12. 1.24.13
    Lolly said:

    A girl after my own heart. Cannot wait to make this!

  13. 1.24.13

    LOVE chile con queso, thanks for the recipe! I wish I had a slow cooker though. haha

  14. 1.24.13
    Stephanie said:

    Are you from Austin? I grew up in San Antonio! I know exactly what you mean about the food though. It’s really not Mexican, it’s more of its own brand of awesome Tex-Mex. I searched for years for food like that outside of Texas (used to live in Chicago, now I’m in SF) but never found it. I finally had to accept that I could only truly have those flavors I loved when I go back to visit my family. So funny you posted this recipe today though. I was just craving some chile con queso last night and added some ingredients to our grocery list so I can make it this weekend!

  15. 1.24.13

    Today, you’re my favorite. I still say y’all, and I’ll never stop missing cheese dip….though I’ll be using gluten free flour in mine. Just in time for the Super Bowl, too!

  16. 1.24.13

    phenomenal! going in my weekly link roundup! YUM!

  17. 1.24.13
    amanda said:

    OMG YUM! That chili con queso is kicking my turkey chili posts butt!

    check us out? follow us back?

  18. 1.24.13
    Steph said:

    Definitely going to make this for the Super Bowl!! Just out of curiosity, why do you say not to buy pre-shredded cheese? Is it because of the cellulose? Or mold inhibitors?

    • 1.24.13
      vmacandcheese said:

      Yes, the cellulose and sometimes cornstarch and alter
      how pre-shredded cheese thickens sauces like this. Plus,
      freshly grated just tastes better and has a better melting
      quality, IMO!

  19. 1.24.13
    Elisa said:

    I’m a queso addict! This is getting pinned!

  20. 1.24.13
    Natalie said:

    My husband is from Austin and I’m from Houston and we bring chile con queso to EVERY potluck or sports party that we go to. People from California don’t know what they’re missing until they get a taste! We’re now famous for it. We always make it with Velveeta, though, because real cheese just doesn’t melt as beautifully as plastic cheese…which is sad. My husband and I also always put ground beef, taco seasoning (he swears by it), avocado, and finely-chopped cilantro in ours, in addiiton to the add-ins in your recipe, to add just a bit more flavor. Per the usual, we will be making this for our Super Bowl party – thanks for showing me how to get away from plastic cheese!

    Name’s Not Ashley

  21. 1.24.13

    Note to self: Don’t read this post when hungry late at night! So tasty looking!

  22. 1.25.13
    Kayla said:

    That looks SO yummy! I bet my Hubby would love it! Will try this! Thanks for the post! : )


  23. 2.5.13
    Lauren said:

    oh my god. trying not to indulge this week but this sounds so.freaking.good! going to save it for later this month. thanks!

  24. 4.30.15
    Liz said:

    this looks delicious! I’ve been looking for a good queso that doesn’t use processed cheese. Quick question: does it reheat well? Thanks! :)

    • 5.1.15

      Hi Liz — I can’t remember reheating this, but I’m sure I must’ve, as there’s no way we ate the whole batch at once. I think from re-reading my recipe that if you were to reheat it very slowly in the slowcooker, it’d probably be ok!

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