5 Ingredients or Fewer

Mom's 'Instant Party' Chile con Queso

March 25, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Chile con queso, Texas' sixth food group, did 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 sleepaway 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

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves a crowd
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Ro-Tel, undrained
  • 1 (16-ounce) package processed cheese, such as Velveeta, cubed
  • Tortilla chips, cauliflower florets, and baby carrots, for serving
In This Recipe
  1. In a double boiler or slow cooker, combine canned tomatoes and cheese, stirring frequently until melted. Serve with tortilla chips, cauliflower florets, and baby carrots.

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Sarah McColl

Recipe by: Sarah McColl

Sarah McColl is the author of the memoir Joy Enough.