Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Velveeta-free Queso

I've eaten "queso" for as long as I remember. Growing up, we often ate at a Mexican restaurant near our church and I would gorge myself on the chips and queso. It also made an appearance at many family gatherings, and still does. In my family, it's Velveeta and Rotel. In my husband's family, they spice up the same base with browned sausage. I love it all. But I'm not a huge fan of Velveeta, truth be told. Surely there has to be a way to make more authentic queso without defaulting to the scary rectangular pasteurized processed cheese product, no?

Most recipe searches left me coming up empty. But over Thanksgiving, while I was trying out a cheese sauce to replace the Cheese-Whiz called for in mom's broccoli-rice casserole, it hit me: this could be my queso base. I added some salsa to the leftover cheese sauce and instantly had my husband put away the bag of chips, lest I eat every last one, smothered in my new-found queso. Let me know how you think it compares.

Velveeta-free Queso
adapted from Rachael Ray

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces cubed cream cheese
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
Your favorite salsa (or Rotel)

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stir 3 tablespoons flour into 3 tablespoons melted butter and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1 cup heavy cream until smooth, then whisk in 2 cups milk. Simmer gently until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, 4 ounces cubed cream cheese until melted and smooth. Season with salt and a pinch ground cayenne pepper. Add in your favorite salsa, about 1 1/2 cups, or to taste.


  1. I obviously haven't made it yet, but it SOUNDS good. Cheese Whiz in a casserole? Eep!

  2. Awesome. Can't wait to give that a try!

  3. That sounds like a good one. I, too, have searched for a different way to make queso. Here's what I have come up with:

    Mix cream of chicken soup with a can of chicken broth in a saucepan until smooth. Add one can of mild green chile enchilada sauce and 8 ozs. softened cream cheese. Once the cream cheese has blended completely add 1 tsp cumin and 1 cup (or more) of grated pepper jack cheese. Stir and heat until melted and blended.