This Rotel Dip with Ground Beef is made with a twist and no Velveeta. This creamy and cheesy dip features real cheddar and pepperjack cheese along with homemade taco seasoning for a flavor-packed appetizer. Perfect for game day, parties, or any time you crave comfort.
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What is Rotel
Rotel tomatoes are typically made from diced or crushed tomatoes blended with green chilies, giving them a mildly spicy flavor and a bit of heat. They are commonly used as an ingredient in various dishes to add a zesty, slightly spicy kick.
Rotel tomatoes are available in various heat levels, including mild, original, and hot, allowing you to adjust the spiciness of your dishes according to your preference. I love to grab the can labeled, “chunky” for added texture.
I have eaten my fair share of hamburger dip with Rotel during my lifetime….especially in college and especially for game nights and on football game days. It’s definitely a cultural staple.
If you have followed my recipes for a while, you may already be aware of how I do not like to use Velveeta in my recipes. I have said this for years, especially in conjunction with my Southern Soul Food Baked Mac and Cheese. Here are some reasons why:
- Velveeta is a processed cheese product. It isn’t real cheese and you don’t purchase it in the refrigerated aisle at the grocery store.
- It has a distinctive flavor that may not be preferred by everyone. Using real cheese or other cheese alternatives allows for more flavor customization to match individual preferences.
- Experimenting with different cheeses can result in a variety of flavors and textures, allowing for creativity in the kitchen and the opportunity to discover new and unique flavor profiles.
This dip recipe skips the Velveeta and gives you a few more options on how to upgrade the standard dip you are used to. Guess what? It’s still easy! We are just going to add a few more flavor components. As always, feel free to do as you please and use Velveeta if that is your wish.
What Type of Cheese to Use
I like to use a combination of cheddar, cream cheese, and pepper jack cheese. You can use whatever you like, including only cheddar cheese. If you are looking for a dip with that nice cheese pull, mozzarella works best for that. Here are some options.
- Cheddar Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese adds a rich and savory flavor to the dip. You can use either mild or sharp cheddar, depending on your preference.
- Monterey Jack Cheese: Monterey Jack is a mild, creamy cheese that pairs well with the spicy kick of Rotel tomatoes and green chilies. It melts smoothly and adds a pleasant creaminess.
- Colby Cheese: Colby is similar to cheddar but slightly milder. It’s a good choice if you want a balanced flavor without too much sharpness.
- Pepper Jack Cheese: For a spicy twist, consider this, which includes bits of jalapeño peppers. It adds heat and a unique flavor to the dip.
- Cream Cheese: Adding cream cheese along with other cheeses can enhance the creaminess of the dip and add a slightly tangy flavor.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Mozzarella cheese can be used in combination with other cheeses to provide a stretchy, gooey texture.
- Gouda Cheese: This will add a great balance that pairs with the beef, especially smoked gouda.
Buy Blocks of Cheese and Grate Instead of Bags of Pre-Shredded Cheese
I always buy blocks of cheese and grate them myself. I do not recommend using pre-shredded, bagged cheese. I use the shred blade on my food processor to save time with this process, you can also use a standard cheese grater. Here’s why I don’t use pre-shredded:
- Superior melting: Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents, such as potato starch or cellulose, to prevent clumping and make it last longer in the store. These coatings interfere with the cheese’s ability to melt smoothly and affect the texture of your dishes. When you grate your cheese fresh, it doesn’t have these additives and preservatives, resulting in a more velvety and evenly melted cheese.
- Better flavor: Pre-shredded cheese is exposed to more surface area, which can cause it to dry out faster and lose some of its flavor. By grating your cheese just before using it, you retain the natural moisture and full flavor of the cheese.
How to Make Rotel Dip with Ground Beef
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- In a large skillet or pan, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it into small crumbles as it cooks. Season with spices.
- Add in onions and stir.
- Adjust the heat to medium and add in Rotel, cream cheese, and grated cheese. Stir and cook until the cheese has fully melted.
- Serve immediately.
How to Substitute Ground Beef
- Ground Turkey or Chicken: Ground poultry is a leaner alternative to ground beef. You can use ground turkey or chicken as a 1:1 substitute.
- Seafood: Be sure to cook it separate from the dip and add it when ready to serve.
- Sausage Rounds
- Cooked Chorizo: For a twist on the traditional recipe, you can substitute or add cooked chorizo for a different flavor profile.
- Beans: For a meatless alternative, consider using cooked and drained black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans.
How to Make a Creamy Dip/Keep it Creamy
As the dip cools down, the cheese begins to solidify, which can lead to a thicker and less fluid texture. This is a natural process that happens with any cheese-based dip as it cools. Cheese contains moisture, and prolonged exposure to air will cause moisture loss. This can result in a dip that becomes thicker and less creamy, as the cheese dries out.
Whenever you add hearty components to a cheese dip, like ground beef, vegetables, or beans, these ingredients absorb that moisture and thicken the dip, especially if the dip has been sitting for some time.
Milk, heavy cream, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt will help to make the dip creamy. If the dip doesn’t meet your expectation for creaminess, try adding a couple of tablespoons of one of these and continue to add more until you have met your goal.
Substitutions and Additional Add-in Ideas
- Black Beans: These can provide a heartier texture and extra protein to the dip. Drain canned black beans before adding them.
- Corn: Corn adds a touch of sweetness and crunch to the dip.
- Bell Peppers: Diced bell peppers (red, green, or yellow) can add color, crunch, and a mild sweetness to the dip.
- Chopped Jalapeños: For extra heat and flavor, consider adding finely chopped fresh jalapeños or pickled jalapeño slices.
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: Stir in some sour cream or Greek yogurt to create a creamier and slightly tangy dip.
- Sliced Scallions: These will add a fresh, green onion flavor and a pop of color.
- Fresh Cilantro: Can bring a burst of freshness to the dip.
- Hot Sauce: This is always great for providing an extra kick.
- Salsa: This will add more flavor, texture, and color.
How to Prepare it in Advance/How to Store
Store the dip in the fridge tightly covered and sealed. A secure seal prevents air from entering, helping to preserve the flavor. The dip can be kept in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
How to Reheat
It’s normal for the dip to thicken when chilled (and even as it sits out at room temperature) due to the cheese content. To restore the desired consistency, add a small amount of milk or cream when reheating, and stir until it reaches the desired thickness.
Keeping the dip warm will help prevent changes in the texture. Use a slow cooker to keep it warm if you plan to serve the dip immediately.
It is possible to freeze the dip, but it may not always yield the best results due to changes in texture. If you plan to freeze it, do so in a freezer-safe container, but be prepared for potential changes in consistency upon thawing.
Pair With These Recipes
More Dip Recipes
I like to use my Homemade Taco Seasoning in this dip. Feel free to use store-bought if you wish.
Rotel Dip with Ground Beef
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup diced onions I used white onions.
- 15.5 oz canned Rotel Drained
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese See notes.
- 4 oz cream cheese Softened.
- In a large skillet or pan, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it into small crumbles as it cooks. Season with the spices. Continue cooking until the beef is browned and fully cooked. If there's an excess amount of grease, drain it.1 pound ground beef, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin
- Add in the onions and stir. Cook until the onions are fragrant.1/2 cup diced onions
- Adjust the heat to medium and add in the Rotel, cream cheese, and grated cheese. Stir and cook until the cheese has fully melted.2 cups grated cheddar cheese, 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese, 4 oz cream cheese, 15.5 oz canned Rotel
- Serve immediately.
- You can use whatever type of cheese you like, including only cheddar cheese.
- I do not recommend pre-shredded, bagged cheese for this recipe. I buy blocks of cheese and grate them myself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents, such as potato starch or cellulose, to prevent clumping and make it last longer in the store. These coatings interfere with the cheese’s ability to melt smoothly and affect the texture of your dishes. When you grate your cheese fresh, it doesn’t have these additives and preservatives, resulting in a more velvety and evenly melted cheese.
- Ground beef can be substituted for any meat or omitted completely.
- Cream cheese will make the dip creamy. Omit it if you wish.
- It’s normal for the dip to thicken when chilled (and even as it sits out at room temperature) due to the cheese content. To restore the desired consistency, add a small amount of milk or cream when reheating, and stir until it reaches the desired thickness.