Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (2023)

Published: · Modified: by Pam

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Restaurant style smoked queso dip comes together easily on your grill or smoker and no Velveeta cheese is used. One special ingredient gives it the same smooth texture you’ll find at your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Smoked Queso Dip is the ultimate tailgate recipe, but is perfect anytime you’ve got your grill or smoker cranked up. Many people prefer not to cook with processed cheeses so we’ve specifically developed this recipe without. A special ingredient is the key to silky smooth dip every time.

If you’re not grilling out, you can even make it on the stove top – you’ll just be missing out on that extra bit of flavor from the smoke, but it’s still yummy!

The special ingredient

After exhaustive research and lots of recipe testing we finally figured out how to make creamy queso dip just like at your corner Tex-Mex taqueria. This simple ingredient is not widely known in home cooking circles, but is used in commercial cooking to make all kinds of smooth sauces.

We try to make it a policy to not recommend unusual ingredients to you guys, but this is one case we’re willing to make an exception. When you see what a difference it makes in your queso dip we think you’ll be glad. You will not be asking the question “How do you keep smoked queso dip creamy?”

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Sodium citrate may sound like some evil chemical, but it’s actually just salt made from citric acid. In the case of our queso dip it acts as an emulsifier to keep the fats and proteins from separating.

You only need a tiny bit and you’ll have the silkiest, smoothest white cheese dip you’ve ever tasted. Don’t even think about trying this recipe without the sodium citrate.

(Video) Smoked Queso

We order ours from Amazon and we’ve linked to it here, for your convenience. We haven’t found it on the shelves in our neighborhood grocery, but it may possibly be available at a larger store like Whole Foods.

Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (2)

How to make it:

First, you’ll heat the evaporated milk up just enough to see it start steaming. You can do this at medium-low to medium heat, but reduce it to indirect heat if you need to keep it just at a simmer before adding the cheese.

Next, stir in the sodium citrate and stir until it dissolves.

The shredded cheese gets added a little at the time, stirring to incorporate after each addition.

At the end add the diced jalapenos or green chili peppers. If you want to add anything else like cooked chorizo, now is the time.

That’s it! Your smoked queso dip will thicken as it cools, but with the special ingredient you’ve added it should not separate and get greasy. If a skin forms on the surface just stir it in with a spoon or a chip.

Ingredients/Substitutions

  • Monterey Jack cheese will give you the traditional flavor you find in a Mexican restaurant’s queso dip. You can certainly mix it up by using part cheddar, or another favorite cheese.
  • Evaporated milk really makes a creamy dip. We have not tested it with whole milk.
  • Sodium Citrate is what makes this queso silky smooth. There is no substitute.
  • Diced pickled jalapeno slices are traditional, but they do add a kick. Leave them out or substitute with diced green chile peppers for less heat.

Tips & Tricks

  1. ALWAYS use freshly grated cheese. If you buy it already grated it has something added to keep the shreds separate. Even if it’s a natural ingredient like flour it can make your queso dip grainy and you don’t want that.
  2. Keep the temperature low when melting the cheese. If you have good temperature control on your smoker or grill keep it at 225 degrees or below. You may need to work at the edge of the grill on indirect heat.
  3. The ratio of cheese to milk can be varied according to your preference for a thinner or thicker queso dip.
  4. Smoked Queso Dip will thicken as it cools and form a skin on top, but can be stirred and the skin reincorporated. Using a cast iron skillet will keep it warm longer. Alternatively, it can be kept warm in a small slow cooker for longer serving times.
Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (3)

Items you may need for your queso dip

If you are making smoked queso on the grill or smoker we recommend using a cast iron skillet. The 9-10 inch size is about perfect, and if you don’t have one you can order here.

Cast iron holds up best for cooking outside and we use it for our , Smoked Baked Beans and more. Did you know we have an entire category of Grilled and Smoked Recipes? Be sure to check out all of them!

If you use a gas grill but still want to get that smoky flavor you can use one of these wood chip boxes. We use them whenever we don’t have time to crank up the smoker for a simple dish like Smoked Vegetables.

Variations

  • For a flavorful and meaty version try adding about ½ cup of cooked, crumbled chorizo sausage.
  • You can add ¼-1/3 cup of diced tomatoes, but we really like to drain about ¼ cup of salsa and stir it in. You don’t have to completely drain it – just get it out of the container with a slotted spoon so you don’t dilute your queso dip too much.
  • As mentioned above, diced jalapenos and green chile peppers can be used interchangably according to your preference for heat.
  • Topping with cilantro is always a good idea with any Mexican-inspired or Southwestern dish.
Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (4)

Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (5)

(Video) Easy Smoked White Queso Dip on the Traeger Ironwood 885 | Heath Riles BBQ

Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta

Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (6)Pam

Restaurant style smoked queso dip comes together easily on your grill or smoker and no velveeta cheese is used.

4.89 from 9 votes

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Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Course Appetizer

Cuisine Mexican

(Video) This is what I used to make SMOKED QUESO DIP

Servings 8 people

Calories 177 kcal

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces Monterey Jack cheese freshly grated
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon Sodium Citrate
  • 3 Tablespoons diced, pickled jalapeno peppers or green chile peppers optional

Instructions

  • Heat evaporated milk at medium low heat on smoker, grill or stovetop until it steams.

    (Video) How to Make the VIRAL TikTok Smoked Queso Dip!!

  • Reduce heat to a very low simmer (200-225 degrees) and stir in sodium citrate until dissolved.

  • Add shredded cheese gradually, stirring after each addition until cheese is melted and incorporated into milk.

  • Stir in peppers until heated thoroughly.

Notes

Optional additions are salsa, cilantro or crumbled and cooked chorizo.

PLEASE NOTE: The ratio of cheese to milk can be varied according to your preference for a thinner or thicker queso dip.

Smoked Queso Dip will thicken as it cools and form a skin on top, but can be stirred and the skin reincorporated. Using a cast iron skillet will keep it warm longer. Alternatively, it can be kept warm in a small slow cooker for longer serving times.

Nutrition

Calories: 177kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 11gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 299mgPotassium: 162mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 411IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 350mgIron: 1mg

Keyword queso, smoked

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

(Video) Smoked Queso (No Velveeta) - on a TRAEGER RANGER pellet grill.
Smoked Queso Dip without Velveeta (7)

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FAQs

How do you thin out smoked queso? ›

To thin out smoked queso, stir in liquid at any point during the smoking process. One of the most commonly used liquids is milk, which has a creamy consistency that melds well with the cheese. You could also use cream or (for extra flavor) condensed cream of mushroom soup.

How do you make smoked queso less thick? ›

If you like thinner smoked queso dip, add evaporated milk. Start with 1/2 cup and work your way up until your desired consistency is reached. You can add it at any time. For a lighter smoky flavor, only smoke the queso for 30 minutes or so vs the full 1-2 hours.

Can you add liquid smoke to queso? ›

To help get that delicious smoky flavor inside, add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke to your queso. Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

How do restaurants keep queso from hardening? ›

Add Acid. Adding acid to the cheese is going to prevent it from solidifying. When you're making cheese sauces or cheese fondue, this is going to be a critical part of the process.

What if my queso is too thick? ›

Thin as needed: The queso will thicken as it sits. If you find it's getting too thick, whisk in a couple of tablespoons of whole milk to thin it. Serve it straight from the pan kept over low heat on your stove or transfer the queso to a slow cooker set on warm.

Why is my smoked queso grainy? ›

Adding cheese to a bubbling mixture will cause the cheese to break down. The emulsifiers and coagulants break down when heated thus causing a gritty texture.

How do I make my cheese dip more liquidy? ›

For dips, you'll want to use a tablespoon of cornstarch per pound of cheese, then add at least five ounces of evaporated milk. After that, you can use more evaporated milk to thin out your dip as much as you need.

What makes cheese dip thinner? ›

If you wish for it to be thicker, bring the cheese sauce to a slight boil and then remove it from the heat. If you want to thin it out a bit, add more milk.

How do you mellow smoked cheese? ›

It's important to know that after the cheese smokes, it needs to be wrapped tightly to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 weeks before trying it. If you try to eat the cheese right away, the smoke flavor is too strong. Allowing it to rest will allow the flavors to meld and the smoke flavor to mellow.

Does liquid smoke make a difference? ›

Liquid smoke does have some of the same bactericidal properties as real smoke, yet it seems its inventor intended it at least as much as a flavor enhancer, and it's a safe bet that it's mostly used to that end today, now that much more effective food preservation methods are available.

Can you put liquid smoke directly on food? ›

Wright's® Liquid Smoke can be used in a variety of ways:

It can be diluted with water, oil or vinegar and brushed directly on foods before cooking. It can incorporated into dishes before or during cooking.

Does liquid smoke add flavor? ›

Liquid smoke is used to impart smoky flavor without the actual fire, so it can be used on any dish that you want to taste like it came from a smoker. Food manufacturers also use it as a flavor additive.

What queso is best for melting? ›

Mozzarella. You know the deal with mozzarella. It's pizza's best friend, the champion of the cheese pull scenario. Mozzarella, whether fresh or low-moisture, is extremely tame in flavor, so it makes a quick, clean, creamy hit to everything from meatball subs to roasted vegetables.

How does Gordon Ramsay make queso? ›

  1. 1 cup skim milk.
  2. 3 tbsp cornstarch.
  3. 1 tsp canola oil.
  4. 1 cup minced onion.
  5. 3 garlic cloves, minced.
  6. 1 poblano pepper, diced.
  7. 1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced.
  8. 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth.

Why is my queso dip watery? ›

Dips can turn watery if food, such as chips or vegetables like carrots and celery, is being dipped directly into the container and then refrigerated and re-opened for later use. Did this answer your question? thumb_up Yeah!

How do you upgrade queso? ›

10 Quick Queso Dip Upgrades
  1. Pepper It Up. Top your queso with jalapeños, serranos, cayennes or other hot peppers, like we did in this Chili con Queso recipe. ...
  2. Sprinkle on Pizza-zz. ...
  3. Take It to Buffalo. ...
  4. Stir in Beans. ...
  5. Start with Chili. ...
  6. Toss in Cooked Veggies. ...
  7. Go Sweet & Smoky. ...
  8. Beef It Up.
Jan 31, 2018

How do you thin out queso blanco? ›

Add milk to thin to desired consistency. Crockpot: transfer dip to crock pot and cook on low for 30-60 minutes, depending on how much White Queso Dip is left, stirring a couple of times throughout the reheating process. If your dip feels too thick, add additional milk to thin to desired consistency.

Why is my queso dip curdling? ›

Why do sauces curdle? Dairy has three main components: fat, proteins, and water. Curdling occurs when the proteins in a sauce denature and bind together, separating from the water and tightening up into curds.

What is the brown stuff on smoked cheese? ›

Smoked cheese is any cheese that has been specially treated by smoke-curing. It typically has a yellowish-brown outer pellicle which is a result of this curing process.

How do you make queso not curdle? ›

Lowering the heat before the cheese is added is the most important step you can take towards preventing your sauce from curdling. If your sauce is on high heat or medium high heat you should lower the heat to low or medium low and let the sauce cool down for a few minutes before adding the cheese.

Why isn't my queso creamy? ›

To fix grainy cheese sauce, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to detangle the protein molecules and whisk to achieve a creamy smooth texture. If you don't have lemon juice, you can use high-fat cream instead.

What can you add to queso to make it thicker? ›

Use cornstarch or all-purpose flour.

You can thicken cheese sauce further by adding more flour or even using a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch or flour with a cup of water.

How do you thicken queso dip? ›

Making a slurry with cornstarch and cold milk is how you will thicken your queso. A traditional slurry is a 1:1 liquid to cornstarch ratio, but for our queso purposes I used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of milk.

How do you thicken Mexican dip? ›

Try a thickener.

Add thickeners like cornstarch or arrowroot to your salsa as a last resort. To do this, mix one tablespoon of thickener per cup of salsa with an equal amount of water. Then bring your salsa to a simmer over low to medium heat and slowly incorporate the slurry until the salsa has thickened.

How do you make Velveeta cheese dip not so thick? ›

How Do I Thin Out Velveeta Cheese Dip? Velveeta cheese dip can be thinned out by adding milk or water, stirring until the desired consistency is reached. You can also add additional seasonings, such as garlic powder or onion powder, to taste.

Does cream cheese make dip thicker? ›

Cream cheese can also help to thicken cream-based sauces. It can act as a thickener for salad dressings, dips, and be used as a replacement for mayonnaise. It can also help to thicken pancake batters and be used as a base for cake icing when mixed with butter. Sour cream.

Why is My cheese dip not smooth? ›

If your cheese sauce is too thick, there are 2 things that have happened here; you either added too much flour or not enough liquid. The fix is simple, gradually add more liquid (water, milk) and do not pour loads at once, as this will result in a lumpy cheese sauce.

Can you smoke cheese too long? ›

The longer you smoke, the smokier the taste will get. We recommend smoking cheese for about 45 minutes to 2 hours for a mild smoky flavor. If you're looking for a bold smoky flavor, try smoking the cheese for 2 hours or longer.

How do you know when smoked cheese is done? ›

After the smoking process is done take the cheese off the grill. The flame should be out and the pellets should be done smoking. Wrap the cheese up in some parchment paper or butcher paper and let the cheese rest in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. The longer the cheese rests in the fridge the better it gets.

What temperature should I smoke cheese at? ›

Set up your smoker to maintain a temperature of less than 90°F (32°C). It's imperative that the heat be no higher than 90°F (32°C) to prevent the cheese from melting. To create cold smoke, place the cheese on the grate of your smoker.

How much liquid smoke should I use? ›

Liquid smoke has a highly concentrated flavor so using a little bit will go a long way. Adding a tablespoon or two to your marinades or barbecue sauces will give them a smoky flavor without the hassle of smoking, slow cooking, or outdoor grilling.

How much liquid smoke is enough? ›

Liquid smoke is concentrated and often very potent. Aim to use 1/4 teaspoon (or less!) in your recipes. You can always add more to adjust to your taste preferences. Try diluting liquid smoke with water or vinegar for a subtle flavor.

Do professional chefs use liquid smoke? ›

Food coloring and liquid smoke have no place in the kitchen

Mark Estee, a renowned chef with multiple restaurants in Nevada, said he never uses artificial coloring and liquid smoke, a water-soluble fluid used for flavoring.

How do you use liquid smoke on cheese? ›

Some cheesemakers spray or dip their cheese with liquid smoke (or add it to their curds) before they smoke their cheese. As long as it is exposed to real smoke after that, it may still be called smoked cheese (and the liquid smoke does not have to be added to the list of ingredients.)

How much liquid smoke do I use per pound of meat? ›

Liquid smoke is a very concentrated product and only one teaspoon is required for each five pounds of meat. Liquid smoke should be used sparingly as too much of it will give the meat a burnt taste. It can be added directly to the meat when mixing.

How do you keep food moist when smoking? ›

  1. Water Pan – Use a water pan in your smoker to maintain a humid environment so the meat doesn't cook with hot, dry air. ...
  2. Spritzing – Many pit-masters keep a spray bottle filled with stock, apple juice or spray butter handy, spritzing the meat when the surface starts to dry.

How can I make my cheese dip thinner? ›

If you wish for it to be thicker, bring the cheese sauce to a slight boil and then remove it from the heat. If you want to thin it out a bit, add more milk.

How do you make queso blanco less thick? ›

Add milk to thin to desired consistency. Crockpot: transfer dip to crock pot and cook on low for 30-60 minutes, depending on how much White Queso Dip is left, stirring a couple of times throughout the reheating process. If your dip feels too thick, add additional milk to thin to desired consistency.

How can I thin out cheese dip? ›

Velveeta cheese dip can be thinned out by adding milk or water, stirring until the desired consistency is reached. You can also add additional seasonings, such as garlic powder or onion powder, to taste.

How do you liquify queso? ›

  1. Scoop one cup of queso into a microwaveable safe bowl and place in the microwave for one minute. ...
  2. As an alternative to microwave heating, heat queso on the stove. ...
  3. Once the queso is thoroughly hot, pour it into a dish and serve alongside tortilla chips.

Videos

1. Smoked Queso Dip
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2. Brisket Smoked Queso - NO VELVEETA - Ep. 11
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3. Game Changing Queso Dip Smoked on the Kettle Grill...Wow!
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4. Smoked Queso 5 Ways | Cheese Dip Recipes 5 Ways
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6. Easy Rotel Dip (from scratch - no velveeta!) | The Recipe Rebel
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