Healthy Queso Dip

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This healthy queso dip tastes amazing with chips or smothered on your favorite burrito. It has all the flavor and none of the guilt! Make this dip with sharp cheddar and jalapenos, you won't regret it.

75 CAL 4.2g CARBS 2.7g FAT 4.5g PROTEIN 3

The ultimate lightened-up Skinny Queso Dip that's made with real ingredients (no Velveeta here) and tons of flavor. This healthier cheese dip is the perfect addition to any football or party spread. 

Few things are as satisfying as a spicy, cheesy queso dip. I enjoy all kinds of snacks like carrots dipped in skinny ranch, raw vegetables with hummus, and baked chips dipped in green salsa. However, as much as I love those things, I just can’t resist queso.

Are you the same way? Every weekend inevitably brings queso, and I have to eat it whether it is delicious and homemade or out of a jar.

My favorite kind of queso is homemade, has no beans or meat, and has lots of spice. So naturally, this recipe mirrors that. However, you could easily saute some ground beef or ground turkey (seasoned with taco seasoning) to start the recipe or throw in some canned black beans or pinto beans. Make it however you like it.

I adapted this recipe from one that was passed around between friends, adding lots more spice. If you don’t want it quite as spicy, eliminate the jalapeno.

Looking for even more protein? Don't miss this Cottage Cheese Queso or Healthy Chili Con Queso.

Queso dip with melted cheddar, cheese, diced tomatoes, green chilies, and cilantro on a plate with tortilla chips and cilantro.

Key Ingredients For Healthy Queso Dip

Don't be intimidated by this long list of ingredients. Each thing on it is essential and plays an important part in making this a rich, creamy queso that is good for you too.

  • Cheddar Cheese: For the strongest flavor, use reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese. You could also swap it for pepper jack for even more spice.
  • Diced Tomatoes With Green Chiles: Use a can of your favorite tomatoes with green chiles. They come in hot and mild spice levels. Normally I like to use Rotel tomatoes but any brand will work.
  • Garlic and onion: Don't try to replace fresh garlic with garlic powder. It won't have nearly the same flavor as sauteed minced garlic cloves. Any type of onion will taste delicious - red onion has the most pungent flavor of all the varieties.
  • Peppers: I used both jalapeno and poblano peppers. If you want it extra spicy, add a little bit of habanero!
  • Chicken Broth: Use low-sodium chicken broth to help maintain a healthy amount of salt since this recipe tends to be quite salty.
  • Milk: I used skim milk, but you can replace it with unsweetened, non-flavored almond milk or coconut milk. Reduced-fat milk and whole milk will also work and create even creamier queso.
  • Cornstarch: You only need a little bit - this thickens the queso.
  • Cilantro: Do you think cilantro tastes like soap? Replace it with fresh parsley or leave it out entirely.
  • Lime Juice: You only need a little bit in this queso, so I just squirt some from fresh lime. This is optional but adds a nice brightness to the dip.
  • Spices: The best spices for the queso are salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. You could also use homemade taco seasoning.

What To Serve With Queso

The first thing that comes to mind when you think queso is chips! Make these baked tortilla chips or baked tostadas to serve alongside this yummy queso for an appetizer everyone loves. Usually, I throw some raw carrots, bell peppers, and cauliflower florets on the side as well.

Queso is pretty much a straightforward party food or snack. So, if you are going to be serving it at your next party, I suggest making some baked crispy chicken tacos to go with it. They are easy for guests to pick up and perfect for a Mexican-inspired fiesta. 

To go along with the Tex-Mex theme, you can also set out some corn salsa and some sweet and tangy mango salsa too! Dips and salsas are always popular at parties. We also love serving this queso with these fun Taco Cups.

Love chipotle queso? Then consider serving this with some Chicken Burrito Bowls or Easy Chicken Soft Tacos.

Recipe Tips And Ideas For Healthy Queso

Follow these tips to make sure that this dip turns out creamy every single time!

  • Extra creamy, thick queso: Whisk a bit of the milk and cornstarch together before adding them to the saucepan. This way, the cornstarch will thicken the milk - which makes this a very creamy cheese dip.
  • Add cream cheese or sour cream: Another easy way to thicken up this dip is to add light cream cheese to the mixture. Sour cream, Greek yogurt, and blended cottage cheese also work!
  • Whisk constantly: When you add the milk to the pan, be very careful and cook it at a low temperature, stirring constantly. Do not let the milk scald/burn, or else it will ruin the flavor of the dip.
  • Make it spicy: Make it as spicy or as mild as you like it! Add fresh jalapenos, canned green chilies, red pepper flakes, canned chipotle peppers, or chili powder. This dip can be fully customized.
  • Rotel tomatoes: If you can’t find diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel tomatoes), then consider adding some canned diced green chilies to the dip. Just drain them first.
  • Taco flavor: For more Tex Mex flavor, swap in some taco seasoning for the cumin, ancho chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Add beans or ground meat: For a heartier dip, add in some canned black beans or pinto beans. You could also cook some ground turkey or beef to add. 

Lightened up cheddar queso dip in a bowl with two hands holding it and tortilla chips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions I frequently get asked about by some readers…

How do you make a mild queso?

If you follow my recipe as-is, your queso will have a bit of a kick to it! I like things on the spicier side. To make it milder, leave out the jalapeno peppers and use mild canned diced tomatoes.

If you want it extra-mild (with almost no heat at all), leave out both jalapeno and poblano peppers and only use canned tomatoes without green chiles. This version is popular with kids.

Can you make this in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make this in a slow cooker - but don't let it cook for very long. If you cook this queso too long, it will cook down, resulting in an extra-thick texture.

To make it in the slow cooker, mix all the ingredients and set it on low for 1-3 hours. Do not use the high-temperature setting.

How do you store leftover queso?

Store leftover queso in a mason jar with a lid that screws on nice and tight. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

The texture might change - it could begin to harden. If it does, just scoop it into a saucepan and heat it up. It will melt back down very quickly.

What are some healthy things to dip into queso?

I like to make baked tortilla chips. My recipe for oven-baked chips is in the printable recipe card below - all you need is some corn tortillas and an oven.

Tex mex healthy queso dip made with tomatoes, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, and spices in a bowl with cilantro.

Storage and Leftovers

Store this dip in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat it slowly in a saucepan, stirring often, until warm and heated through. You may need to add a little extra milk as it warms.

This dip does not freeze well. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions when making this healthy queso.

The most common reason that queso turns out gritty is that it was cooked at too high a temperature and not stirred enough. If the cheese doesn't slowly melt into the roux (milk mixture), then it turns out gritty. 

Any cheese that melts well works well in queso including cheddar, pepper jack, Monterey jack, Mexican blend, gouda, queso Oaxaca, chihuahua cheese, or mozzarella. 

The Recipe
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Healthy Queso Dip

75 CAL 4.2g CARBS 2.7g FAT 4.5g PROTEIN 3
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  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
  • 1 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder

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In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup milk with 3 tsbp of cornstarch. Set aside, this will serve as the thickener.

Milk and cornstarch being stirred together in a bowl.

Bring a medium to large sauce pan up to medium heat and spray non fat coking spray. Add the onions, garlic, poblano, and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften.

Onions, jalapeños, garlic, and poblano peppers sautéed in a pan.

Add the chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 3 minutes to reduce slightly.

Chicken broth and milk being added to a pot.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir quickly. It will immediately thicken up and begin to bubble. Once you see it thicken up, turn the heat to low. Add the cheese and stir until it melts completely.

Cheddar cheese being melted into queso dip.

Add the cheese and stir until it melts completely. Then add the tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Diced tomatoes being added to cheddar queso dip.

Serve with homemade baked tortilla chips. To cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut corn tortillas in 1/4′s and place onto a sheet of parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes until crispy.

Tortilla chip picking up healthy queso in a bowl.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 75
Calories from Fat 24
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2.7g
Saturated Fat 1.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat g
Cholesterol 29mg
Sodium 157mg
Total Carbohydrate 4.2g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 4.5g

* 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.


If you aren't looking for a low-fat queso, then I recommend using full fat cheese in this recipe since it melts better.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Healthy Queso Dip
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March 2, 2024 - 15:35
Add a Rating:
Thank you for posting this. I was looking for a low sodium queso dip. This tasted really good. Do you think it would work with Swiss cheese (lower sodium than sharp cheddar/cheddar. Used no salt added blue corn tortilla chips.
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March 4, 2024 - 07:54
Although I haven't tried it with Swiss cheese, it should work great since Swiss cheese melts well. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing the lower sodium tricks :)
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Debbie Henley
February 9, 2024 - 08:37
Add a Rating:
I've been wanting something other than Velveeta that my family likes. Real food is better for us!
Question - Can I use regular sharp cheddar instead of a lite cheese? If yes, can I skip using cornstarch or just use less? Or do I still need to use cornstarch?
Extra side note... I am enjoying your recipes. And my family is enjoying healthier dinners because of many of your recipes. You are a blessing!
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melinda douthitt
February 21, 2022 - 18:27
What are your thoughts on a "dairy" free milk substitute here? Heard any great suggestions?
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February 22, 2022 - 12:01
I think it would work with unsweetened almond milk or oat milk. Just make sure to choose something that doesn't have any added sugar or spices that would interfere wot the flavor of the cheese.
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Sarah G.
October 26, 2021 - 13:41
Add a Rating:
Loved this!! Tastes just like restaurant queso. Made it with home made baked tortilla chips (also from your site). Such a tasty snack, planning on serving it at our next party.
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October 25, 2021 - 17:26
Add a Rating:
WHO can eat just 1/4 cup of soup??? I’d think a decent serving would be 1.5 cups of soup!! That’s 450 calories, so I’d have to think a long time before making this my meal. I think I’d be starving in about an hour.
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melinda douthitt
February 21, 2022 - 18:26
Thanks Kay, you just had me bust out laughing. TOo cute...You must be a SPEEED reader just like me. Bless your heart.
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October 26, 2021 - 13:42
This is actually meant to be served as a dip with chips or veggies, not as a soup. That's why the serving size is smaller. Thanks!
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Carolyn Perez
February 4, 2022 - 09:48
I got it when you said used as a dip. Really good for family game night♥️
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