Healthy Chili Con Queso

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Easy chili con queso that is lightened up but still delicious and cheesy. This queso dip made with real cheese is a hit at any party or gathering.

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If you're looking for the ideal party dip, then Chili Con Queso, made with real cheese, is just the ticket. This easy to make dip is packed with cheesy flavor and the perfect amount of spice. Serve it with tortilla chips, baked chips, pretzels, vegetables, or drizzled over a burrito bowl or tacos

Have you ever had queso made of real cheese? Who am I kidding – chances are great you haven’t. Anything but homemade is usually made from processed “cheese.”

But this one? This queso is made with 100% real cheese, with a nice little bite that even the kiddos will enjoy. Chili Con Queso with real cheese is a great all around occasion dip!

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How to Make Chili Con Queso

I'm going to start right off by saying that you won't be finding processed cheese products in this recipe – like Velveeta. It’s healthier to use authentic cheddar cheese – and to be perfectly honest, it tastes better too. I promise you, once you’ve had it this way you are unlikely to ever go back.

How do you make this deliciously easy chili con queso?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Start off by sautéing your onion and garlic until it is tender. This will help it release all of its amazing flavor. Once that’s done deglaze the pan with your beer, cooking the resulting sauce for about a minute to reduce it just a bit. While this is going on, scrape the bottom of your pan to get up any of the stuck on bits of onion and garlic that might be there.

That’s all flavor!

Add a cup of milk and then heat the mixture until it is almost boiling. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining milk together before you add it to the pan. Once bubbling, turn the heat down low and add the rest of your ingredients, being sure to stir well.

You want to make sure that the cheese is fully incorporated!

Types of Cheese to Use

Cheddar cheese is without a doubt the basis of a good queso, but it is by no means the only cheese you can use! Here are just a few ideas:

  • American Cheese
  • Gouda
  • Gruyere
  • Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese (50/50 with Cheddar)
  • Muenster
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Smoked Cheddar Cheese
  • Velveeta

As you can see, there are a lot of different cheeses that work with queso – the key is getting a cheese that melts well. This is why you shouldn’t buy pre-grated cheeses, as they are coated on the outside and are more difficult to melt smoothly.

Yes, you’ll have a little bit of extra work grating the cheese at home, but the ease of melting is well worth the extra effort!

Can You Make it Vegan?

Vegan queso is absolutely possible, but it is also so complex that I feel like it deserves an entire recipe of its own. That isn’t something I’ve done yet, but I’m putting it on the list to work on in the future. Just so you know, vegan queso is made from cashews and nutritional yeast with garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salsa. It only takes a few minutes to put together, but I don’t feel like I could do it justice here.

If you already have vegan queso made then you can easily add the chilis, onion, and cumin from this recipe to give yours that chili bite.

Can You Make This in Advance?

Your chili con queso will stay good in your fridge for 3 or 4 days if it is stored in an airtight container. So if you’re planning on preparing it before a big party then there is absolutely no harm in making it the day before.

However, if you are making it in advance keep in mind that you will have to reheat it before you serve it, because this is a dish best served hot – it only takes a couple of minutes on the stove or in the microwave.

The entire thing only takes 20 minutes to make anyway, so you might just decide to make it right before the party is getting started instead. Also, keep in mind while you’re reheating your chili con queso that it will have thickened a bit. So be sure to give it a stir and have extra milk on hand if it needs a bit more liquid.

How to Keep it Warm During a Party

Your queso should be kept warm throughout your party, but I don’t recommend sticking it in the microwave every few minutes.

My go-to is a fondue pot, which does a fantastic job keeping the queso hot and easy to dip.

Other options you can use though include a catering dish or even a slow cooker set to keep warm.

What to Serve with Queso

  • For a light and healthy option, serve this alongside crudites including carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, or radishes. 
  • Make your own baked tortilla chips by cutting corn tortillas into wedges and baking them in the oven until crispy. 
  • Instead of chips, reach for some baked pretzels or crackers.
  • If you are lucky enough to have leftover chili con queso, serve it over tacos, burrito bowls, or taco salads.

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The Recipe
Chili con queso in a bowl with melted cheese, chilies, green onions, and tortilla chips.

Healthy Chili Con Queso

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  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup light beer
  • 1 1/4 cups skim milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz. canned diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

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Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender.


Add the light beer and cook until reduced slightly, about one minute. Then add one cup of milk and heat until mixture almost is boiling.


Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1/4 cup milk. Add this to the skillet and cook until it is thick and bubbling. Turn the heat heat down to low and stir in the remaining ingredients. Stir until cheese melts and is fully incorporated.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 64
Calories from Fat 12
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 215mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 2g
Protein 5g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

1 Comment
On Healthy Chili Con Queso
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Holly Clegg
January 31, 2017 - 10:09
Add a Rating:
I am so excited to share this delcious queso with everyone. You can always add lean ground beef or turkey and veggies. Either way, this is a winning dip!
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