Ready for some cheese?
Classic Cheese Sauce
Our version of Homemade Cheese Sauce solves the problem of grainy bechamel-based sauces by using a combination of evaporated milk and corn starch as the base. And it couldn't be simpler: toss your cheese in the starch, cook it in the milk, and stir until it's thick. All the flavor of real cheese, and all the gooiness of a good cheese sauce. It's the perfect base for...
Chipotle and Pork Rind Dip
Smoky chipotles are great mixed into cheese dip on their own (simply adding some chopped chipotles from a can to Velveeta is a major step up from the pre-packaged chipotle flavored dips), and adding crunched up pork rinds to it is... it's a beautiful thing. Let's leave it at that. The crunched up rinds soften in the dip, turning into tender nuggets of pork fat, while serving fresh crunchy ones on the side for dipping all adds up to double trouble.
Classic Spinach and Artichoke Dip
For a near instant party, just combine a cup of thawed frozen spinach and a cup of roughly chopped marinated artichoke hearts with a couple cups of cheese sauce. If you want to go all fancy-pants (like we did), you can start with fresh spinach simply wilted in a pan with a little water. (Even the microwave will do.)
We went through a whole slew of potential names for this Muffaletta sandwich/queso dip mash-up (some names are dirtier sounding than others), but fact remains that it's delicious. Fry a quart pound of diced pancetta and salami in olive oil until crisp, add a half cup or so of mixed chopped olives, capers, and giardiniera with parsley, then stir the whole thing into your cheese dip, garnishing with some crispy pancetta bits.
The Breakfast Monster
So you like to dip your tater tots in cheese sauce? Well here we reverse the ratio and add some bacon and jalapeño for good measure. Fry off a quarter pound of thinly sliced bacon until crispy in a non-stick skillet, then add a few broken up tater tots or frozen hash-brown patties and cook, breaking them up until crispy. Stir it all into the cheese dip with some diced jalapeño. Dipping potato into potato never tasted so good.
Chicken Chili Verde Dip
Bottled store-bought salsa verde mixed in equal parts with cheese dip, along with some chopped cilantro and jalapeños. If you want to meat-en it up a bit, add shredded store-bought roast chicken (or if you've got your own leftover chicken, all the better). Serve hot with corn chips.
Chorizo and Black Bean Queso Dip
Start by frying nuggets of Mexican chorizo in a skillet until crisp and rendered, then mix it all together with some drained, canned black beans and some chopped pickled jalapeños. Garnish it all with chopped cilantro, lime, and jalapeño.
Black Olive and Roasted Tomato Dip
Good quality black olives (avoid the canned, underripe kind from California—hit the olive bar instead) add plenty of briny tang to this dip that's flavored with fruity, intense sun-dried tomatoes.
Chili Cheese Dip
The classics are often the best. A can of chili (or homemade if you prefer), coupled with cheese sauce can't really be beat. I like to garnish mine with sliced scallions.
Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Dip
It's remarkable how a little goat cheese can transform generic cheese dip into something that actually tastes a little fancied up. Caramelized onions (which you can make in under half an hour using this method) ratchet the whole deal up into something that, well, is so fancy it needs to be served in a martini glass. Think of it as hot onion dip. Or perhaps dippable French onion soup. Or just think of it as awesomely delicious.
Roasted Garlic and Roasted Red Peppers
Recipe for delicious: Toss a couple red peppers and a whole head of garlic with olive oil, then roast it in a 375°F oven until everything is tender. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, peel and chope the pepper, stir it into cheese dip, then dig in.
Leek and Mushroom Dip
Chopped mushrooms sauteed in butter until brown and flavorful are perfect partners in crime with sauteed leeks. Cheese sauce is simply the glue that binds the two together in everlasting happiness.
Meat Lovers Pizza Dip
All the flavors of a meat-lovers pie in dippable form. Start by sauteeing crumbled Italian sausage, sliced pepperoni, and ham in olive oil until cooked through, then dump in a drained can of diced tomatoes. Stir the whole mixture into your cheese sauce, garnish with basil, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and you've got everything but the crust.
Double-Spicy Bean and Cheese Dip
Combine some canned refried bean along with some chopped pickled jalapeños and sliced fresh jalapeños, then fill it out with a sh*t-ton of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Another classic, the simplest version of this one is just browned ground beef, a can of drained Ro*Tel tomatoes (fire roasted diced tomatoes will do fine), and some sliced scallions. For a more complex version with roatsed chilis and cumin, check out the recipe here.