Chili Cheese Dip (Beefy Queso)

4.85 from 20 votes

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My chili cheese dip is all you can ask for in an appetizer! Made with seasoned beef and salsa, it’s bulky enough to keep you satisfied without being too heavy. The gooey combination of spicy Pepper Jack and sharp Cheddar is creamy, silky, and incredibly delicious.

side view: dipping a tortilla chip into a bowl of chili cheese dip


Queso will vary tremendously from household to household. It could be a simple cheese dip, a queso blanco sprinkled with green chiles, or a hefty beef queso dip recipe that’s almost a meal all on its own.

This queso dip recipe falls more into that third category. Besides the cheese, it contains a whole pound of ground beef and is thickened with milk, flour, and butter. But salsa, chili, and cumin keep the flavor bright and vibrant — keeping you coming back for more!

closeup: bowl of queso dip recipe with cotija and fresh herbs on top

When I know I’ll have to feed dozens of hungry hands during a game day, party, potluck, or family gathering, you can be sure this chili cheese dip will be on the table — I’ll never serve a store-bought queso! Along with my jalapeño poppers, spinach artichoke dip, and classic guacamole, it’s one of my go-to game-day recipes.

Tip From Kevin

Ground Beef or Chorizo?

Ground beef is finely minced meat, often from different beef cuts, versatile for various cuisines. It’s my go to and always on hand for this. Chorizo is anothe roption though. A spiced pork sausage, boasting bold flavors with garlic, paprika, and chili. Beef offers a neutral base, while chorizo adds depth and spice, perfect for savory dishes craving a punchy kick. The choice is yours.

bowl of homemade beef queso dip recipe with cotija cheese and fresh herbs on top

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Ground Beef I recommend a 90/10 fat ratio – or a relatively lean ground meat. Because we’re working with lean meat, ground turkey or chicken both work really well as substitutes.
  • Chili Powder – This is one blend I always make at home to balance the chili, garlic, and oregano flavors to my own preference. I highly recommend it! 
  • Ground Cumin – The warmth and subtle, citrus flavor do a world of good, brightening this otherwise heavy beef queso dip recipe.  
  • Flour – This ingredient is important for building a roux to ensure a silky smooth consistency. If you’re catering to a gluten intolerance, there are gluten free flour alternatives out there that will work just as well!
  • Pepper Jack – A peppery, herbal option that pairs well with cheddar in any queso dip recipe. In case you’re not familiar with it, note that it has a bit of a kick!
  • Cheddar – The sharper the cheese, the more potent its taste – I always use Tillamook sharp cheddar. Use block cheese and grate it fresh!
  • Salsa – I made this chili cheese dip with Pace medium salsa. But you should use your favorite!
overhead: bowl of chili cheese dip topped with fresh herbs and cheese

How to Make Chili Cheese Dip

  1. Brown & Season the Beef. Begin heating a saucepan or skillet on medium heat. Season the beef with the cumin, salt, chili powder, and garlic. Add it to the pan and cook until browned. Once it browns, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Start With the Roux. Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add the flour and begin whisking. Whisk for two minutes before pouring the milk into the pan. Lower the heat and whisk for another 3 or 4 minutes until the mixture thickens.  
  3. Stir in the Cheese. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the roux. Whisk it all together until the cheeses melt and the mixture is totally smooth. 
  4. Add Other Ingredients. Spoon in the salsa and browned beef, along with all of its juices. Stir together and let simmer for another 5 minutes. 
  5. Dress & Serve. Serve your dip with tortilla chips, freshly chopped cilantro, and authentic Mexican cotija cheese.
  • Cheese Grater – It’s always better to avoid bagged shredded cheese. It contains preservatives that not only dull flavor but also prevent it from melting properly. Instead, use a good grater to get it fresh, right off the block!
  • Skillet – A good skillet will double as a cooking implement and stylish serving dish that holds onto heat well and just has an attractive, classic look. When I make chili cheese dip, I transfer the skillet right to the table. 

Storing and Reheating

Leftovers from this beef queso dip recipe can be refrigerated for up to 4 days before the beef becomes unsafe for consumption.

Reheating is best on the stovetop where you can slowly bring it to temperature while stirring. Microwave if necessary, but do so in short sessions and stir well between each round.

dipping chip into a bowl of queso dip recipe

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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of cheese is best for queso?


Use a smooth melting cheese, such as Pepper Jack, to get the right creaminess and smoothness.

You’ll almost always find cheddar in chili cheese dip because of its sharp, rich flavor. Other popular options include Velveeta, Monterey Jack, and even American — which is actually an ingredient in my vegetarian-friendly queso blanco!

How can you jazz up cheese dip?


Protein introduces new dimensions of both flavor and texture. Seasoned beef will carry and deliver those spices in chunks of juicy, mouthwatering flavor that you just won’t get from a plain cheese dip. 

You could also spice it up with chiles, or even hot sauce or barbecue sauce. Additionally, onions, bell peppers, or beans add body, texture, and taste.

How do you thicken queso?


In general, you can thicken queso with more flour, but it isn’t too effective on its own and can make the flavor bland.

In this queso dip recipe, the milk works as a thickener instead! The protein and fat thicken as soon as they’re heated, and once combined with the equally important butter and flour roux, it’s an extremely effective thickener. This is basically a bechamel sauce with cheese and the other fixings.

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Chili Cheese Dip (Beefy Queso)

4.85 from 20 votes
Creamy chili cheese dip is a hot, peppery shareable you can make in 30 minutes, and it’s way better than anything you’ll buy at the store!
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 28 minutes

Ingredients 

Serve

Instructions 

  • In a large skillet over medium heat brown the ground beef seasoned with salt, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Remove meat from skillet and set aside.
  • Make the roux to thicken your sauce by melting butter in skillet over medium heat and add the flour. Stir with whisk and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and continue to cook on low for 3-4 minutes until thickened.
  • Whisk in the cheeses until smooth. Add the salsa and seasoned, browned beef (with accumulated juices). Simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm with tortilla chips and garnish with chopped cilantro and crumbled Cotija cheese.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 641mg | Potassium: 324mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 669IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 266mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Southwest, Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): beef queso dip recipe from scratch

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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69 Comments

    1. The suggested serving number is always listed on the recipe card. For this one it’s 8, but it also depends on how much each person has!

  1. 5 stars
    Kevin,
    I needed a new dip for a family gathering this evening, so tried your Beef Queso. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I doubled it. Everyone told me the dip was the biggest hit of the party. Ten people devoured the double batch. Thanks for another outstanding recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Do you think this would freeze well? Doing some meal prep before baby 3, and looking to add sauces and similar to the freezer in addition to full meals

    1. I have not tried it myself, but after reading online it seems it would. Be sure it’s cooled completely and maybe do it in several batches. Congrats on #3 and let me know how the freezing turns out.

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I love this recipe. I did put Velveeta instead of cheddar cheese though. I didn’t have chedder

  4. I was looking for a way to make a sort of taco mac and cheese. Im going to adjust a bit but its nice to have a starting point on measuring

    1. Thanks for your comment, Christopher. I’m actually developing a recipe for taco mac and cheese. Stay tuned, but please let me know about your results!

  5. 4 stars
    I made this and it had a ‘grainy taste/texture. I followed the recipe exactly as written. Any thoughts on what I might have done wrong?

    1. Also, if you bought pre-shredded cheese instead of shredding it yourself, that will make it grainy. Cellulose is added to keep the cheese from sticking together but it makes cheese sauces grainy

  6. 5 stars
    I say all the time, life is too short for dieting! lol This recipe is what life is about! Thank you!