5 Ingredients or Fewer

Mom's 'Instant Party' Chile con Queso

March 25, 2019
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 12 to 15
Author Notes

Chile con queso, Texas' sixth food group, did a lot of the heavy-lifting for my mother. As far as crowd-pleasing party food goes, it is a sure thing: dead-easy, consistent, and good. A recipe for the dip in all its processed-cheese glory was first published by the Woman’s Club of San Antonio, writes Queso! author Lisa Fain. After that, the recipe frequently appeared in Texas Junior League cookbooks, and First Lady Lady Bird shared her recipe with The Washington Post in 1964. Julia Child, sampling her first queso in Dallas, reportedly asked for thirds.

If a humble, down-home dish was celebrated by the grande dame of French cooking, women’s social clubs and, even the White House, surely this party dip could cross cultural divides for my mother, too. She was a stranger in a strange land, attempting fluency in a language of laborious fried dishes and hot rollers, while she stumbled over subtleties about sororities and summer sleep away camps. So here was a revelation—one can of Ro-tel tomatoes and a brick of Velveeta—easy-to-understand shorthand that meant instant party success. —Sarah McColl

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Undeniable Fun of Chile con Queso, Before & After My Parents' Divorce —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced green chiles, such as Ro-Tel, undrained
  • 1 (16-ounce) package processed cheese, such as Velveeta, cubed
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • Cauliflower florets, for serving
  • Baby carrots, for serving
  1. In a double boiler or slow cooker, combine canned tomatoes, chiles, and cheese, stirring frequently until melted. Serve hot with tortilla chips, cauliflower florets, and baby carrots.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Pam Shropshire
    Pam Shropshire
  • TXExpatInBKK
Sarah McColl

Recipe by: Sarah McColl

Sarah McColl is the author of the memoir Joy Enough.

2 Reviews

Pam S. March 26, 2019
Oklahoma native here. This is probably the first thing most kids in our area learn to "cook". I remember my older son wanted to throw a Halloween party when he was about 14. In the middle of Ghost-Hand Punch and Gooey Spider Guts Cake, he insisted on "Ro-tel Dip," as its known in our house. I taught him to make it - although we melt the cheese in the microwave instead of breaking out the double boiler.
TXExpatInBKK November 30, 2021
Same! We microwave it, stirring periodically until the velveeta is melted and everything is combined. I've had people try to make it with "real cheese" and it just isn't the same. Definitely not gourmet, but oh so good.