This Smoked Queso Dip is made using cheddar, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, and a homemade spice blend. The result is the best creamy, smooth, and smoky cheese sauce that can be used as a dip for chips or as a sauce for nachos, tacos, and burritos.
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This recipe is adapted from my standard Queso Dip Recipe. Feel free to use if you don’t have a smoker.
Ingredients/What Gives it Flavor
I use chili powder, cumin, and fire-roasted tomatoes. You can add cayenne pepper and jalapenos to really kick it up. You can also use store-bought taco seasoning mixes if you wish.
You will need milk and half and half to get it creamy. You can use any milk you wish, but keep in mind the texture and taste of the milk will impact the recipe. The taste of your milk will carry into the dip, along with the texture. Thin milk (1%, skim, etc) will thin out the dip and you will need to thicken it up using more cornstarch. (Steps documented in the notes of the recipe in the recipe card.)
A lot of recipes use condensed milk, which is a combination of milk and sugar. I opted for milk and half and half, but feel free to use the same amount of condensed milk as the total amount of milk and half and half used in the recipe.
What Kind of Cheese to Use
You will need cheddar cheese (mild or sharp) and pepper jack cheese. Monterey Jack and white cheddar will also work. You can use whatever you wish. I recommend you purchase the cheese in block form and grate it yourself.
Pre-shredded cheese has potato starch and chemical preservatives. It doesn’t melt as well and won’t get the dip super creamy.
I don’t use Velveeta because I don’t cook with processed cheese. Feel free to use it if you wish.
How to Make Smoked Queso Dip
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Add shredded cheese to a bowl with the cornstarch and stir.
- Place a skillet on medium-high heat. Add butter, stir until melted.
- Add in onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add in the spices, cilantro, fire roasted tomatoes, the cheese, half and half, and milk. Stir continuously until the cheese has melted.
- Stir until the dip is thick.
- Place the dip on the smoker.
I recommend 225 degrees, a low temperature that will fill the dip with a smoky flavor.
Cook Time/How Long to Cook
The dip will need to smoke for 2-3 hours. Use your judgment and taste the dip. It’s ready when it has the perfect smoky flavor.
What Type of Wood/Pellets to Use
Hickory, mesquite, apple, and the Traeger Signature blend are my favorites to use.
- Apple: Mild, sweet and fruity flavor
- Cherry: Adds a subtle sweet and fruity flavor
- Mesquite: Strong, smoky flavor
- Hickory: Strong, bold, and smoky flavor
What Type of Pan to Use
I love to use a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet. You can also use a heavy-duty stainless steel pan. Any pan that will work inside your smoker is best, as long as it’s around 9×13 in size.
Is it Spicy?
The pepper jack cheese will give it a kick. Substitute cheddar or whatever you like, if you don’t want spicy. If you use a chili powder that has spicy elements, you may think the dip is spicy, in which case omit it. It’s only really spicy if you add cayenne pepper and/or jalapenos.
How to Melt the Cheese
It takes 5-7 minutes of constant stirring on medium heat to fully incorporate the ingredients and get the cheese to melt down. If you use quality cheese (that isn’t pre-shredded) it will met up easily and nicely.
How to Thicken the Dip
I add cornstarch to the cheese which will help thicken up the dip as the ingredients are incorporated and melt on the stove. It takes about 10 minutes to get the sauce to thicken and it will thicken even more as the cheese dip cools.
If you like it even thicker, create a slurry using 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Combine the two until it creates a white paste and add it to the dip and stir. After several minutes it will thicken more.
Can You Add Meat?
Absolutely! I would cook the meat separately using my Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe. Once cooked add it to the queso. You can use chorizo, sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breasts, or whatever you prefer.
How to Store the Dip
Store it in the fridge tightly covered and sealed for 3-4 days. For gatherings keep it warm in a Crockpot.
How to Reheat
The best ways are in a Crockpot, on the stove in a pan, or in the oven on 350 degrees until warm. You can use the microwave if you wish.
More Traeger and Smoker Recipes
Smoked Tomahawk Steak
Traeger Smoked Glazed Ham
Traeger Smoked Turkey Breast
Traeger Smoked Chicken Breast
Traeger Smoked Ribs (3-2-1 Method)
Traeger Smoked Chicken Wings
Traeger Smoked Whole Chicken
Traeger Smoked Brisket
More Dip Recipes
Million Dollar Dip
Crab Rangoon Dip
Hot Crab Dip
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip
Smoked Queso Dip
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese Omit and use additional cheddar if you don't desire spicy.
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion I use white or red onion.
- 2-3 garlic cloves Minced.
- 15.5 oz fire roasted tomatoes
- 4 oz green chilies
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Spices (You can also use your favorite store-bought taco seasoning).
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees.
- Add the shredded cheese to a bowl with the cornstarch and stir. Set aside.
- Place a skillet (I use a 10 or 12 inch cast iron) on medium-high heat. Add the butter, stir until melted.
- Add in the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir continuously until the cheese has melted.
- Taste repeatedly and add additional salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
- It will take about 10 minutes for the dip to thicken. Remove the dip from the stove and place it on the smoker.
- Smoke for 2-3 hours or however long it tastes to achieve the smoky flavor of your taste.
- If you like it even thicker, create a slurry using 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Combine the two until it creates a white paste and add it to the dip and stir. After several minutes it will thicken more.
- The pepper jack cheese will give it a spicy kick. Substitute cheddar or whatever you like, if you don’t want spicy. If you use a chili powder that has spicy elements, you may think the dip is spicy, in which case omit it. It’s only really spicy if you add cayenne pepper and/or jalapenos.
- You can use an immersion blender to smooth out the tomatoes if you wish.
- You can use any milk you wish, but keep in mind the texture and taste of the milk will impact the recipe. The taste of your milk will carry into the dip, along with the texture.
- You can substitute flour for the same amount of cornstarch used in the recipe.
- Pre-shredded cheese has potato starch and chemical preservatives. It doesn’t melt as well and won’t get the dip super creamy. I recommend block cheese that you grate yourself.
- Be sure to stir the dip as the cheese melts to prevent the cheese at the bottom of the pan from burning.