This Spicy Jalapeño Corn Queso Dip is a silky smooth cheese sauce dip loaded with spicy jalapeños, fire roasted corn, spices, and two kinds of cheeses. It is made with fresh grated sharp cheddar and monterey jack for the perfect creamy texture and bold cheesy flavor (without cream cheese!). A great appetizer to share for any kind of gathering.
This spicy queso dip has some truly delicious ingredients that each bring something special. Below are the main ones:
- Cheese: Two delicious creamy cheeses - sharp cheddar and monterey jack.
- Jalapeño: This brings the spiciness to the dish. You can keep or remove the seeds depending on how spicy you like it (the seeds will add more spice).
- Corn: Fire roasted frozen corn is my go-to for this because the fire roasted adds great flavor. You can use regular frozen corn or even canned corn (make sure you drain and rinse it if that's the case).
- Onion & Garlic: Flavor!! These bring so much to the table.
- Spices: Cumin and cayenne pepper for sooo much flavor.
- Whole milk: This is the base of the cheese sauce. Whole milk is important because it thickens up well. I would not recommend subbing for a different kind of milk.
- Corn starch: This helps thicken up the queso just the right amount.
- Cheese: If you don't have or don't like one of the cheeses called for in this recipe, consider regular cheddar, pepper jack, or even gruyere.
- Jalapeño: If you want to completely omit the spice but still want the pepper flavor you can swap a poblano pepper instead of the jalapeño.
- Onion & Garlic: You can use onion/garlic powder instead.
- 1 clove of garlic = ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 small onion = 1 teaspoon onion powder
Step by step instructions
Spicy Jalapeño Corn Queso Dip is surprisingly easy to make and will definitely impress whoever you serve it to!
- Melt the butter and sauté the onion, jalapeño, and corn until softened.
- Add the garlic and spices.
- Make a corn starch slurry (equal parts corn starch + water)
- Add the milk and corn starch slurry. Bring to a light simmer on medium-low heat.
- Cook a few minutes until slightly thickened.
- Take off the heat and mix in the cheese in 3 parts.
1. Sauté the vegetables. In a heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is great!) melt the butter over medium heat. Once it's melted, add the chopped onion, jalapeño, and frozen corn. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until it's all softened up.
2. Add the garlic and spices. To the same pot, add the garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Sauté for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
3. Make a corn starch slurry. In a small bowl, add the corn starch and equal parts water. Mix until combined.
4. Add the milk and slurry. Turn the pot down to medium and add the milk and corn starch slurry. Mix well to combine and bring to a very light simmer.
5. Cook until thickened. Bring up to a very lightly simmer until the milk mixture thickens slightly - should take only a few minutes once it's at a light simmer. It's done when you can streak your finger through it on a spoon and it doesn't immediately run back together.
6. Add the cheese. Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the cheese in 3 increments until fully combined. Serve immediately.
What to serve with queso
Queso is a great Mexican appetizer and is even better when paired with the below:
- Tortilla chips
- Raw veggies
- Pico de gallo
- Salsa (like this Mango Habanero Salsa)
Tips and tricks
Below are some tips and tricks to help make sure your cheesy queso turns out just right.
- Use a heavy bottomed pot: I used an enameled cast iron 2QT pot.
- Shred your own cheese: Pre-shredded cheese has additives and often corn starch which will thicken the queso too much.
- Make it spicier: If you want it to be spicer, you can add some dashes of your favorite hot sauce.
- Make it less spicy: Make sure you remove the seeds from the jalapeños if you want it to be less spicy. You can even omit the cayenne pepper.
- Add meat: If you want to add meat some ground chorizo or beef would be great. Just cook it separately and drain the fat before adding to the queso. Mix in the meat once the cheese is all mixed in and melted.
- Once you add the milk keep the heat low: Make sure you keep the heat on low or medium/low once you add the milk otherwise your risk it scorching.
- Make your own tortilla chips: Making your own is so easy and rewarding. Heat neutral oil over medium heat, slice tortillas, add to the oil until crisp, transfer to a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle with salt.
- Keep it warm: the second this dip is off the heat it starts to thicken/harden, so it's best to keep it warm until right before you are about to serve. This is also why it helps to use cast iron because it retains the heat well.
- If it's too thick: add a splash of milk.
- If it's too thin: add some more cheese.
You need to make it on the stovetop through thickening the milk, and then can transfer to a crock pot to add the cheese.
It's best stored in the fridge in an air tight container.
In the fridge it will last up to 3 days.
It's easiest to reheat it in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each until warmed through. Add a splash of milk if it's too thick.
You can prep through sautéing the veggies + adding the garlic and spices. Stop before you make the slurry and add the milk.
Honestly, I wouldn't recommend it.
Queso translated means cheese. So queso dip is loosely cheese dip. More formally chile con queso and actually has Texan roots. Background on queso here.
The difference between this and queso fundito is that queso fundito is more straightforward just melted cheese often with other ingredients such as peppers or onions.
Spicy Jalapeño Corn Queso Dip
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 jalapeños seeded and diced (⅓ cup)
- 1 ½ cups frozen fire roasted corn
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron is great!) melt the butter over medium heat. Once it's melted, add the chopped onion, jalapeño, and frozen corn. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until it's all softened up.
- To the same pot, add the garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Sauté for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
- In a small bowl, add the corn starch and equal parts water. Mix until combined.
- Turn the pot down to medium and add the milk and corn starch slurry. Mix well to combine and bring to a very light simmer.
- Bring up to a very lightly simmer until the milk mixture thickens slightly - should take only a few minutes once it's at a light simmer. It's done when you can streak your finger through it on a spoon and it doesn't immediately run back together.
- Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the cheese in 3 increments until fully combined. Serve immediately.