Chili Con Queso

A small white bowl of chile con queso on a plate with some tortilla chips next to it.
Lisa Fain

In Texas, whipping up a bowl of the cheesy dip known as Chili Con Queso can be as simple as melting a block of everyone's favorite shelf stable "cheese food" (read: Velveeta) with a can of Ro*Tel diced tomatoes with green chiles. But things weren't quite so easy for Lisa Fain, AKA The Homesick Texan when she moved to Manhattan. Unable to locate the tomatoes that give this party favorite its distinct zing, she took it upon herself to make over this Texan dip.

Taking a cue from the cheese dips of Mexico, where real cheeses were used instead of "cheese food," Fain came up with this blend of cheddar and jack studded with fresh tomatoes and chiles. Melted with a buttery roux and a bit of sour cream for both tang and smoothness, Fain's Chili Con Queso is just as creamy as the original with the added brightness of fresh vegetables and cilantro and big, cheesy flavor.

From The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain. Text and photographs copyright © 2011 Lisa Fain. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese (12 ounces)
  • 3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (12 ounces)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, for serving


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the onions, serrano chiles, and jalapeño and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Whisk the flour into the pan and cook for about 30 seconds.

  2. Pour the milk into the pan and, while whisking, cook until the sauce is thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.

  3. Turn the heat down to low, and 1/4 cup at a time, slowly stir in the grated cheese until it’s completely melted. Repeat until all the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese has been added. Stir in the sour cream and add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.