Pepper Jack Queso

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Pepper Jack Queso combines a simple roux with Ro-tel, half and half, plenty of pepper jack cheese, and jalapeños. Perfect for parties and game day, and you can easily adapt the spice level to your personal preference!

For other Tex-Mex favorites, try my Chunky Guacamole, the best Cowboy Caviar with Avocado, or Crunchy Shrimp Tostadas!

A hand dipping a chip into a pan of pepper jack queso.

Queso Recipe without Velveeta

When we go out for Mexican food, I never turn down the chips. Mike and I recently took a big bike ride, and planned our stop for a little Mexican joint, where we inhaled tacos, one giant craft beer, and some chips, queso, and guacamole. I figured we burned what we ate…ahead of time. 😀

In the old days, I’d use processed cheese to make queso at home. But now? I choose to skip the processed block and use cheese from the deli. In fact, I don’t ever buy Velveeta anymore and am happier for it!

Sure, using Velveeta ensures a creamy dip every time. But if you follow my recipe for this easy queso, you’ll get a creamy dip PLUS it’s (slightly) better for you. Win/Win!

Closeup of a skillet of white queso with a spoon, topped with fresh sliced jalapeños.

Ingredients Used:

  • Butter – Two tablespoons of unsalted butter is needed.
  • Veggies – Diced onions and jalapeno. I include the seeds but you can omit them.
  • Flour – Just a tablespoon of flour is required.
  • Seasoning – Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground cumin.
  • Half and Half – The perfect dairy for this recipe.
  • Ro-Tel – I used a medium heat version, but also like to use the HOT version to spice things up! Beware, because the HOT Ro-Tel is indeed hot!
  • Cheese – A combo of Pepper Jack cheese and Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Cream Cheese – Just a little bit helps to achieve a creamy consistency.
All of the ingredients in bowls on a white background.

How to make Pepper Jack Queso

Step 1
In a cast iron skillet, melt butter, and add diced onions and jalapeños. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.

Step 2
Add spices (salt, pepper, and ground cumin) and flour, and stir until fully absorbed.

Step 3
Add half and half and Ro-tel, and simmer until slightly thickened.

Step 4
Stir in the cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, Monterey Jack cheese – and stir until creamy.

Overhead shot of a black plate of queso and chips.

What is a roux?

A roux is the magic sauce that holds everything together in many dishes. With a few extra ingredients, it becomes the base for Mac and cheese, queso, gravy, and so many other recipes.

The basic ratio for a classic béchamel is equal parts of fat to flour, and then milk, or other liquid (amount depends on desired consistency). For this recipe, I used 2 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon of flour (which was plenty), plus 1.5 cups of half and half.

A skillet of pepper jack queso with chips and some sliced jalapeños.

Possible Variations:

  1. Make the queso less spicy. You can leave out the seeds of the jalapeño and use a mild version of Ro-tel.
  2. Use other types of cheese. We love the pepper jack cheese, but any cheese is ok. (But I wouldn’t choose Velveeta!)
  3. Add other seasonings. Use some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for more heat.
  4. Use other dairy. Instead of half and half, you could use 2% milk or even heavy cream.
  5. Add a topping. Add some taco meat (using my homemade taco seasoning) to the top of the queso when serving. Or try some shredded brisket or shredded barbecue chicken.

How to enjoy Queso Dip

  • Enjoy it with chips, as photographed!
  • Add it to a baked potato.
  • Drizzle it over your favorite chili.
  • Eat it with any of your favorite Tex-Mex Dishes, including tacos, burritos, crunch wraps, and taco bowls!

Storing and Freezing

  • STORE. Keep the queso in an airtight container. Just reheat in your microwave as needed (or when you get a craving)!
  • FREEZE. You can also freeze the queso in an airtight container, for up to three months. Make it ahead and bring it out for game day or any last minute party.
Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet of white queso dip.

What to serve on Game Day

Besides this jalapeño queso, choice one (or two) of the following as well!

A hand dipping a chip into a small plate with queso and chips.

xoxo ~Sue

Closeup on a skillet of white queso, with chips.

Pepper Jack Queso

Pepper Jack Queso combines a simple roux with Ro-tel, half and half, plenty of pepper jack cheese, and jalapeños. Perfect for parties and game day, and you can easily adapt the spice level to your personal preference!
4.75 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 313kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup onion – diced
  • 1 large jalapeno – diced with seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • salt and pepper – to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 10 oz. Rotel – I use HOT, but you can use mild
  • 1 1/2 cup half and half
  • 6 oz. American cheese – shredded
  • 8 oz. pepper jack cheese – shredded
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • top with cilantro and jalapeño slices – to serve
  • Tostito scoops – to serve

Instructions

  • In a cast iron skillet (other other skillet), sauté the diced onion and jalapeño in olive oil, over medium high heat. After about 4-5 minutes, add the garlic and stir another 30 seconds.
  • Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and flour, and stir constantly for a minute or two, or until the flour is fully absorbed. 
  • Add the Rotel and milk, and reduce heat to medium. Let the mixture simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes or so.
  • Reduce heat to low, and add the cheese and cream cheese, stirring constantly until everything is melted and creamy.
  • Remove, and add extra jalapeño slices and chopped cilantro. Serve with Tostito scoops.

Notes

  1. If you don’t like spicy, you CAN 1) Omit the seeds of the jalapeño, or a portion of them. 2) Skip the Rotel and add regular diced tomatoes.
  2. Tostito Scoops work the best for this recipe, so you can SCOOP it all up.
  3. This queso is also great drizzled over chili, a baked potato, or any Mexican food (tacos, burritos, crunch wraps).
  4. You can also freeze the queso in an airtight container, for up to three months. Make it ahead and bring it out for game day or any last minute party.

Nutrition

Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 623mg | Potassium: 244mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 861IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 506mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!

8 Comments

  1. Wendy Jensen says:

    Looking at your comments, you talk about using equal amounts of fat to flour. So if you use 2 T of olive oil, do you use 2 T of flour or 1T of flour as your recipe indicates? I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks.

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Hi Wendy. After making this again, I decided one tablespoon of flour is enough! I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Made this for my Friday night happy hour as a treat and it really was!! Queso is one my favorite foods and this is a great one!!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      That’s awesome, Shari! So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. Easy, tasty, and the whole family love it! I made taco meat and used this queso for nachos. Yum!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Yay! I’m so glad ya’ll enjoyed it, Jessica! Thanks for your sweet comments. 🙂

  4. This is always a hit at parties! An awesome recipe!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thanks! 🙂

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