Austin Diner-Style Queso


We have all done it. We stop in at our favorite Mexican restaurant for a meal and, while waiting for the entrée, we fill up on hot, salty tortilla chips and rich and creamy queso. It’s time to learn to make this dip at home, whether you serve it to football enthusiasts at a game day party or let the family dig in on Taco Tuesday. Cheese is, obviously, one of the keys to making a good queso. You can use many different types of cheeses (but please don’t ever use the American cheese sandwich slices), but American and brick processed cheese, such as Velveeta, are the most popular because they easily melt to a liquid state. You can add canned green chiles for flavor and heat but try roasted or raw fresh jalapeños to add brightness. Reheat leftover queso and drizzle over a pan of nachos or a bowl of chili.

Austin Diner-Style Queso. Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
8 serves


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 4 jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely diced (1/4 cup)

  • 1 (4 1/2-oz.) can chopped green chiles (undrained)

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp.)

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 pound white American cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for topping

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Tortilla chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo


  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low. Add onion and jalapeños. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add green chiles and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds.

  2. Whisk together milk, 1 cup water, and cornstarch in a bowl until well combined. Add to chile mixture in saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low, stirring constantly. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Add cheese; reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro, cumin, salt, and cayenne. (Add additional seasoning, if desired.)

  3. Transfer queso to a serving bowl, small slow cooker, or chafing dish set over a flame. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve queso warm with tortilla chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

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