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How do you thicken Mexican queso?

Queso, also known as chile con queso, is a popular Tex-Mex cheese dip made with melted cheese, milk, and spices. It’s a staple at Mexican restaurants and taco bars, served alongside chips, tacos, enchiladas, and more. While traditional queso has a smooth, creamy texture, sometimes you may want to thicken it up to make it more scoopable and dippable. Here are some easy ways to give your queso a thicker, richer consistency.

Add a Roux

One of the simplest ways to thicken up queso is to make a roux. A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat (usually butter) and flour that is cooked into a paste. Making a blonde roux is perfect for thickening up cheese dips and sauces. To do this:

  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour until well combined.
  • Cook, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
  • Whisk in 1 cup of milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add shredded cheese like cheddar, Monterey jack, or queso quesadilla cheese. Stir until fully melted and thickened to your desired consistency.
  • Season with spices like cumin, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, etc.

The roux helps bind the milk and cheese together for a thicker, richer dip. You can play around with the butter and flour ratios to make it as thick as you want.

Puree Some Veggies

Another way to add thickness to queso is to puree veggies into it. Good options include:

  • Poblanos or Anaheim chiles – Roasting green chiles first adds sweetness.
  • Tomatoes – Adds acidity and richness.
  • Onion and garlic – Builds flavor.
  • Butternut squash or pumpkin – Adds creaminess.

Puree the cooked veggies with a splash of milk or cream, then stir into melted cheese. The purees act as a natural thickener. For best results, make sure the veggies are cooked through and pureed smooth.

Use a Bechamel Sauce

Making a creamy bechamel sauce is an easy cooking technique to thicken up queso. To make a simple bechamel:

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan.
  2. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually pour in 2 cups milk while whisking. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Cook 5 minutes until thickened to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Stir in shredded cheese until melted and combined.

The bechamel acts as the base for your queso, allowing you to add as much cheese as you want. The starch from the roux gives it a thicker consistency compared to just cheese and milk alone.

Use a Can of Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is milk that has been cooked down to remove about 60% of the water content. This makes it thicker and creamier than regular milk. When making queso, try using evaporated milk instead of regular milk or cream. The thickness helps stabilize and bind all the cheese together. Simply add shredded cheese to heated evaporated milk and stir until fully melted and creamy.

Blend in Soft Tortillas

Here’s an unconventional hack for thickening queso – blend in some tortillas! The starch released from the tortillas acts as a natural thickener. To try this:

  1. Tear up 4 small corn or flour tortillas into bite-size pieces.
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse to break down the tortillas into smaller bits.
  3. Add the tortilla bits to melted cheese and milk. Puree until smooth.
  4. The texture will be thicker than just cheese and milk alone.
  5. Season with spices as desired.

This easy trick doesn’t change the flavor, just the consistency. Play around with how many tortillas you add depending on how thick you want the queso to be.

Add Some Cornstarch

A quick cornstarch slurry can be used to thicken queso in just minutes. To do this:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water until smooth.
  2. Pour the melted cheese dip into a saucepan and gently heat over medium until warm.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the queso. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened to your desired consistency.

The cornstarch thickens the queso nicely without dulling the cheese flavor. Keep in mind a little slurry goes a long way, so start with a tablespoon and add more as needed.

Stir in Sour Cream

Stirring in some sour cream is an easy way to thicken queso and add a tangy flavor. The cool richness of the sour cream balances nicely with the spices. Try adding around 1/2 to 1 cup of sour cream. Stir it into warm cheese dip just until fully incorporated and smooth. The thickness of the sour cream helps stabilize the melted cheese so it’s not as thin and runny.

Add Some Cream Cheese

Along the same lines, blending in cream cheese can make queso thicker and creamier. Softened cream cheese easily stirs right into the warm cheese dip. For a 1-2 cups of queso, try adding 2 to 4 ounces of brick style cream cheese. Mix just until the cream cheese melts into the cheese sauce. It adds great body and a subtle tang.


When basic queso just isn’t cutting it texture-wise, any of these tricks can help you achieve a thicker, richer dipping consistency. Whether you prefer using a classic roux, pureed veggies, or an unconventional tortilla blend-in, adjusting the thickness is easy. Just be careful not to over-thicken the queso or it can become pasty or gluey. With the right ratios, you’ll have a scoopable, dippable queso for chips in no time.

Here is a helpful table summarizing the different methods for thickening queso:

Method How it Works
Roux Butter and flour mixture thickens milk and binds cheese
Pureed vegetables Natural thickness from pureed veggies
Bechamel sauce Flour-thickened white sauce creates a creamy base
Evaporated milk Naturally thicker than regular milk
Blended tortillas Tortilla starch releases thickness
Cornstarch slurry Quick-thickening power of cornstarch
Sour cream Tangy sour cream adds thickness
Cream cheese Richness and body from cream cheese

Tips for Getting the Right Queso Consistency

Here are some top tips to keep in mind when thickening queso:

Use Good Melting Cheeses

Be sure to use cheeses that melt smoothly like Monterey jack, cheddar, pepper jack, etc. Avoid mozzarella or queso fresco which can become rubbery when melted.

Heat it Slowly and Stir Often

Heat the cheese gently and stir frequently for even melting. High heat or boiling can make cheese sauces grainy.

Get the Right Ratio of Thickener

Start with small amounts of thickeners like roux or cornstarch and add more gradually if needed. It’s easier to add than take away.

Keep it Saucy, Not Gluey

Thicken just until you have a scoopable dip, not a solid paste. Queso should coat chips, not adhere thickly.

Add Milk to Thin Out

If it gets too thick, stir in a splash of milk to loosen it up.

Serving Ideas for Thick and Creamy Queso

Once you’ve achieved the perfect queso consistency, here are some fun ways to serve it up:

Queso Bar

Set up a build-your-own queso bar with chips, salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, etc. Thick queso makes the perfect dippable topping.

Botanas Platter

Alongside ceviche, guacamole, and taquitos, a bowl of creamy queso makes a great addition to a botanas appetizer spread.

Smothered Burritos or Enchiladas

Use extra thick queso to smother burritos, enchiladas, tamales or taco shells for an easy baked dish.

Queso Fundido

For a fun twist, pour thick queso into a cast iron skillet and top with chorizo, ground beef, poblano strips, etc. and bake until bubbly.


Stir some queso into cooked chips and salsa and top with egg, cilantro, onion for easy chilaquiles.

Breakfast Tacos

Thick queso makes the ultimate dippable sauce for breakfast tacos with eggs, bacon, potato, etc.

Burgers or Hot Dogs

Drizzle some queso over your burger or use it as a hot dog topping in place of cheese sauce.


Thick queso is great for dipping tater tots, fries, baked potatoes, etc.


Use as a dip for fresh vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, etc.

Queso Inspired Recipes to Try

Once you’ve perfected your queso, try using it in these delicious recipes:

Queso Chicken Tacos

Shredded Mexican chicken, queso, cabbage, cilantro, and lime stuffed into soft tortillas.

Queso Stuffed Poblanos

Poblano peppers roasted and filled with cheese, corn, zucchini, and queso dip.

Queso Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeños halved and filled with creamy queso, then breaded and fried crispy.

Queso Mac and Cheese

Elbow macaroni baked in a creamy, cheesy queso sauce topped with breadcrumbs.

Queso Cauliflower Bites

Cauliflower florets fried and tossed in thick queso cheese sauce.

Queso Bacon Bombs

Bacon-wrapped stuffed cheese balls fried and served with queso dipping sauce.

Queso Enchilada Skillet

Chicken enchiladas baked right in the skillet with extra creamy queso and hatch chiles.

Queso Fries

Crispy fries smothered with queso, chili, bacon, sour cream, green onion, etc.

Queso Dog Casserole

Hot dogs, beans, peppers, onion, tortillas and queso baked into a tasty casserole.

FAQs About Thickening Queso

What ingredients do you need for queso?

The basic ingredients for queso are melted cheese like Monterey jack, cheddar, or queso quesadilla cheese, milk or cream, and seasonings like cumin and chili powder. Thickeners can include a roux, cornstarch slurry, pureed veggies, etc.

Does using different cheeses change the thickness?

Yes, the type of cheese can impact thickness. Good melting cheeses like cheddar and Monterey jack make a smooth, creamy base. Cheeses like queso fresco don’t fully melt and can make it grainy.

Can I use cornstarch and flour together to thicken?

It’s best not to use both cornstarch and flour together as thickeners. They can compete with each other and cause clumping. Pick one or the other for the best consistency.

Why did my queso turn out grainy?

Graininess is often caused by heating too quickly or using non-melting cheeses. Make sure to melt cheese gently, stir often, and use good melting cheeses.

Can I freeze leftover thickened queso?

Thick queso freezes well for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating gently over low heat. The consistency may be slightly thinner after thawing but still tasty!

The Secret to Perfectly Thick Queso

When it comes to achieving the ultimate queso consistency, low and slow is key. Melt the cheese gently, gradually incorporate thickeners, and stir, stir, stir. With the right ratios and techniques, you’ll have a smooth, creamy queso ready for dipping and drizzling in no time. So grab some chips and get ready to enjoy thick and delicious queso!