This smoked queso dip is just like the white cheese dip from your favorite Mexican restaurant but with the flavors dialed up a few notches! The perfect cheese dip to make on your smoker or grill for an easy party appetizer!
When the weather turns cooler and the football season starts, you can bet that I’ve got a pantry full of tortilla chips and at least a few friends and family members gathered around the TV. And since we often host football parties and other random get-togethers, we’re always trying to come up with easy party dips and appetizers to serve a crowd.
We’ve made this smoked street corn dip which was an absolute HIT with our family, so we decided to whip up another Mexican-inspired party dip for guests to munch on… smoked white queso!
This is the exact recipe that we used to make some epic steak fajita nachos – No joke, those were probably the best nachos that I’ve ever had in my life! But white queso dip would also be great on these griddle steak fajitas or just as a dip for some fresh-fried tortilla chips. (Yes, I often fry my own corn tortillas to make fresh chips, and they are a game changer!)
Here’s how to make this easy “dump it all together” queso dip on the smoker or charcoal grill:
Ingredients for Smoked Queso
There are so many different variations of queso dip that you can make on the smoker or charcoal grill… Some people swear by Velveeta cheese, some add canned Rotel, and others add in cream cheese or chorizo sausage.
But for this smoked queso dip, we wanted to mimic the flavors of classic Mexican restaurant-style white cheese dip, so we kept the ingredient list pretty simple. Here’s what we used:
- White American Cheese. Get the kind that they slice fresh from the deli counter at the grocery store NOT the Kraft singles or other pre-packaged variety. The large block of cheese tends to melt better because it doesn’t have as many additives.
- Monterrey Jack Cheese. For a spicier dip, you can substitute pepper jack cheese or use all American cheese and add in more green chiles or pickled jalapeños.
- Jalapeños. Fresh jalapeños work best for this recipe, because we smoked them whole on the grill for extra flavor. If you want more spice you can add more jalapeños or keep the seeds in the peppers when you add them to the dip.
- Spices. Garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cumin add the perfect flavor to this dip.
- Evaporated milk. Even after melting, the cheeses are very thick (too thick to dip a chip in without it breaking), so you will need something to thin the dip. Evaporated milk works well in this recipe.
You may also want to use an aluminum steam pan to make clean up easier. We used a half size steam pan and it was the perfect size for smoking about 5 cups of cheese dip. If you don’t have a disposable pan, you will need an oven-safe pan like a large cast iron skillet.
How to Make Smoked Queso Dip on the Grill or Smoker
This smoked queso dip recipe is probably one of the easiest things you’ll ever make on the smoker. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Set the smoker to 250 degrees F.
Start by getting your smoker or grill dialed in to the correct temperature. For most smoking recipes, I set the grill to 250 degrees F. If you need the dip to cook more quickly, you can also dial up the temp to about 275-300 degrees F.
If you don’t have a vertical electric smoker or a pellet smoker, then you can definitely make this smoked cheese dip on your regular charcoal kettle grill. In fact, I smoked meats and other recipes on my Weber kettle grill for over a decade before I got my first legit smoker.
*You can check out my full tutorial for how to use a charcoal grill as a smoker here, plus get my easy hack for using a Sharpie marker to mark the perfect vent locations.
Once the charcoal is in the correct formation, add in your favorite wood chunks or chips for the smoke flavor. I used a small bit of hickory, but pretty much any flavor of wood will work.
Step 2: Cube the cheeses and add all of the queso dip ingredients to an aluminum pan.
The beauty of this easy smoked queso dip is that it’s a “dump method”… You just dump all of the ingredients in an aluminum steam pan and smoke or bake the dip until it’s done! Homemade appetizer dips really don’t get any easier than that!
To start, simply cut the cheeses into cubes that are about 1″ square. Your knife work doesn’t have to be precise, because the cheese will just melt together, but I’ve found that this size chunk is great for making smoked cheese dip.
Add the cubed cheeses to the pan, and dump in the can of green chiles, the evaporated milk, and the seasonings. Your steam pan should look something like this:
Step 3: Smoke the queso dip and whole jalapeños on the grill or smoker.
When the smoker temp reaches 250 degrees F, set the pan of queso dip and the whole jalapeños on the grill grates like this:
I chose to smoke my jalapeños whole because I like the extra flavor and the soft texture that you get from doing it that way… and I’m no stranger to smoking jalapeños like these Smoked Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers (with a Mexican Twist!). The heat from the grill softens the peppers to a texture that’s similar to the diced green chiles. Perfect for adding in to soups, quesadillas, or appetizer dips!
Close the lid and smoke the dip until the cheese is fully melted, stirring every 15-20 minutes. After about 1 hour, your smoked queso dip should look something like this:
After the cheese is all melted, if you decide that the dip is too thick for your liking, then add more evaporated milk to thin it out a bit. Or you can add some half & half or milk instead.
Step 4: Dice the smoked jalapeños and mix in to the queso dip.
When the cheese is fully melted, take the dip and the smoked jalapeños off the grill. If you want a less spicy dip, then remove the seeds from the jalapeños before dicing them up. If you can stand more heat, keep the seeds in the peppers.
Then, mix the diced jalapeños into the smoked cheese dip.
I sliced one of the jalapeños into rings to use for garnish for the top of my queso. I like being able to dip a chip in and get a full slice of the smoked pepper, but that’s optional. You can also garnish your dip with a sprinkle of cilantro, some diced tomato, or sliced green onion for a bit of color.
And your finished smoked queso dip should look something like this:
Grilled Queso vs. Smoked Queso
If you’re not a fan of smoke flavor, but you still want to try cooking this queso dip outside, then you can make a grilled queso instead of a smoked queso.
The process is exactly the same, except you simply leave out the wood chips or chunks. The addition of the wood (like hickory, applewood, pecan, etc) is what creates the smoke in your cooks, so if you just set up your charcoal grill without those woods, you won’t get near the smoky flavor.
In fact, my wife prefers this white cheese dip grilled instead of smoked.
Alternate Ways to Make the Queso Dip
If you don’t have a charcoal grill, and you want to still make this fantastic white queso dip, here are some alternate cooking instructions:
On the Gas Grill
Cook the whole jalapeños and the queso dip on the gas grill at the same low temp of 250 degrees F. To add smoke flavor to your gas grilled foods, you can use a smoke tube. Simply fill the tube with pellets or wood chips, light the end, and allow the pellets or chips to burn for about 6 or 7 minutes. Then, place the smoke tube on the gas grill grates and close the lid.
Of course, you can omit the smoke altogether also.
On the Pellet Smoker (Traeger Queso Dip)
Want to make this awesome cheese dip on your pellet smoker? The process is exactly the same for a Traeger queso dip… Just set your Traeger or other pellet smoker to 250 degrees F and place the pan of dip on the grill grates.
In the Oven
Combine all of the ingredients in a large cast iron skillet, a half-size aluminum pan, or a glass baking dish and bake in the oven at about 250-300 degrees F, stirring every 15-20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted. I would caution against cooking at a higher temp than that, because the cheese may separate.
In the Slow Cooker
To make this white queso dip in a slow cooker, simply add the cubed cheeses, diced green chiles, spices, and about 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk to the slow cooker and turn it on low. Stir the dip every 15-20 minutes as the cheese is melting. Add more of the evaporated milk as needed to get the consistency that you like.
FAQ’s about Smoked Queso Dip
How do I keep the white queso dip from clumping up while serving?
As with most cheese dips, this smoked queso will thicken as it cools, so it’s important to keep it warm while serving to prevent it from turning into one gloopy cheese glob.
You have a few different options for keeping the dip warm while serving:
- Add the smoked cheese dip to a slow cooker set on “Keep Warm”.
- Use your rice cooker to keep the dip warm. We often do this with our rice cooker, because it’s smaller than a Crock Pot and perfect for holding foods at a warm temperature.
- Set the aluminum pan up as a chafing dish with a wire rack and gel fuel. Since you’re already cooking it in an aluminum pan, this is super convenient and no electricity needed.
No matter which method you choose, be sure to stir the dip every 20 minutes or so to keep it nice and creamy.
What about the leftover queso dip… Can I reheat it?
Yes! In fact, we made this smoked queso the day before we were going to serve it with our steak fajita nachos. You can store the dip in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Then, reheat in a rice cooker or slow cooker set on “Warm”, stirring every 10 minutes or so as it is re-melting.
Or, you can also reheat the leftover queso dip in a microwave-safe bowl. Just microwave in 15-20 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until it is fully melted.
When reheating the dip from the refrigerator, you may need to add more evaporated milk, half and half, or regular milk to thin out the consistency.
I don’t have evaporated milk… What else can I use for cheese dip?
If you don’t have evaporated milk, you can substitute regular milk, heavy cream, or half & half. Either of these will work to help thin out the queso dip. I don’t recommend omitting one of these altogether, because then the dip will be too thick and cause your chips to break.
You can add your choice of milk or cream products to the queso either 1/4 – 1/3 cup at a time, stirring the dip well, until you get to the consistency that you prefer.
What should I serve with smoked queso dip?
This queso is fantastic served by itself with tortilla chips, or even better, fry your own corn tortilla chips! You can also serve the Mexican white cheese dip as a topping for some of these griddle recipes:
- Blackstone Chicken Fajitas to Feed a Crowd – Easy Griddle Recipe
- Easy Low Carb Burrito Bowl with Steak and Shrimp
- Grilled Stuffed Steak Burrito on the Blackstone Griddle
Smoked Queso Dip Recipe
Use the recipe card down below to print this easy white queso dip for the next time you need a fantastic and easy party dip on the smoker:
Smoked Queso Dip (Better than Mexican Restaurant White Cheese Dip!)
- 1½ lb white American cheese, cubed *Get a block from the deli counter, not pre-packaged slices.
- ½ lb monterrey jack cheese, cubed
- 4.5 oz can diced green chiles
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1⅓ cup evaporated milk *adjust amount based on how thick you want your cheese dip
- 4 whole jalapenos
- *optional garnish – additional sliced or diced jalapenos, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro
- Preheat the smoker or grill to 250 degrees F. *If smoking, add 1-2 small wood chunks or a small handful of wood chips.
- Add the cubed cheeses, canned green chiles, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cumin to a half-size deep aluminum steam pan or large cast iron skillet in an even layer. Add about ½-¾ cup of evaporated milk to the pan or skillet, reserving some to adjust the thickness of the dip later.
- Place the pan on the smoker or grill. Lay the whole jalapeños on the grill grates as well. Close the grill lid and smoke the queso dip for 15-20 minutes. Then stir the dip. Continue cooking the queso for a total of 1 – 1½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until the cheeses are fully melted.
- If you want a thinner dip consistency, add the remaining evaporated milk. You can add the milk in ¼ cup intervals, stirring as you go, until you get your desired consistency.
- When the queso dip is finished cooking, seed and dice the smoked jalapeños. Stir into the smoked queso dip. For a spicier dip, you may leave the seeds in the peppers.
- Optional – Garnish the top of the dip with sliced green onions, additional diced jalapenos, or your favorite Mexican garnishes.
- For best results, serve the queso dip in a slow cooker set to warm. Stir the dip occasionally so that it remains smooth and creamy.