Serves a Crowd

Austin Diner-Style Queso

October  4, 2017
8 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 6 to 8 servings
Author Notes

In Richard Linklater's film 'Boyhood,' the protagonist finds himself in an Austin Diner with his girlfriend late one night. They are being philosophical, and when she asks what they are doing there at three o'clock in the morning, he replies, "You know what we're doing here? Queso!" In Austin, In Austin, inviting places such as Kerbey Lane and Magnolia Cafe have long been popular spots for people to get their queso fix in the darker hours. This recipe is not specific to any particular place, but will remind you of late nights and good friends.

Note about chiles: Because of their thick skin, some fresh chiles need to be roasted and peeled before using. Here's how to do that: In a large, ovenproof skillet or on a baking sheet, place the chiles under the broiler 6 inches form the heating element. Cook until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tightly, and let it steam for 20 minute. To peel the chiles, remove them from the bag and gently rub off the skin.

Excerpted from Queso! by Lisa Fain (Ten Speed Press). Copyright © 2017. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Anaheim chiles, roasted (see above note), peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound white or yellow American cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Guacamole (for topping)
  • Pico de Gallo (for topping)
  • Tortilla chips (for serving)
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Ananheims (see above note) and cook for 30 seconds longer.
  2. Whisk together the cornstarch, milk, and water until well combined, then pour into the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cheese, turn down the heat to low, and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Stir in the cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and salt, then taste and adjust the seasonings, if you like.
  3. Transfer the queso to a serving bowl, a small slow cooker, or a chafing dish over a flame. Spoon guacamole and pico de gallo into the center of the queso. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Molly Stephens
    Molly Stephens
  • EmFraiche
  • Jennifer M
    Jennifer M
  • OnionThief

9 Reviews

Colby S. January 5, 2019
Yeah, this recipe sucks. I'm a decent cook and the whole time I was telling myself, "this can't be right..." This does no justice to Texas, or queso.
Molly S. July 1, 2018
Made this recipe for a party, but I'm not even serving it. It's just not good. Tastes nothing like Magnolio queso. The cumin is overwhelming. I should have known 1 tsp was way too much. A much better recipe is the Casa Ole queso recipe, although you need to reduce the water and add more jalapeno for spice:
alex October 12, 2017
Do as the locals do: On the stovetop or in the microwave melt 1 block of velveeta cheese and one can of rotel tomatoes. If you are feeling fancy you can mix in pickled jalapenos, guacamole, ground beef sauteed with onions, or black beans. Enjoy with college football.
petalpusher October 24, 2017
This recipe is good for those of us who are allergic to velveeta.
EmFraiche October 7, 2017
How much water do you add? I don’t see an amount.
Jennifer M. October 7, 2017
I put in equal parts milk and water and it seems to have worked well
Ceil_the_great October 6, 2017
Sounds tasty! Can you recommend a substitute for American cheese? Do you think Monterey Jack would work? Looking forward to trying it.
OnionThief October 10, 2017
Proper Texas queso is made with american cheese, but if you cant bring yoursef to try it, then i suggest Oaxaca or Asadero. If you sub Evaporated milk for the whole milk, it will help to prevent the sauce from breaking
Ceil_the_great October 10, 2017
Thanks for the advice! I might just have to go the authentic Texas route-I don't actually dislike american cheese, was just trying to clean out cheese ends in my fridge :)