I Tried Every Store-Bought Queso Dip I Could Find — These Are the 3 I’ll Buy Again

published Apr 7, 2023
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nacho chips and quest cheese on surface
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling; Anne Eastman

As a Chicana from southern California, I thought queso dip (aka queso) was the melted form of Mexican cheese. It wasn’t until a trip to Austin, Texas, with some friends that I discovered what queso dip was — a rich and unbelievably creamy blend of warm spices, fiery peppers, and salty cheese. The combination is totally irresistible and, since then, it’s become one of my go-to restaurant appetizers to order. 

I’ve noticed the popular Tex-Mex dip has been gaining popularity in more restaurants and retailers throughout the country. I was curious to see if any of these store-brand dips could stand up to the ones from my favorite local taco shops and hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants, or even my own kitchen. So I did some research, grabbed a reusable shopping bag, and headed out to pick up as many dips as I could find. 

Credit: Daniela Alvarez

How I Tested the Queso Dips

I visited several grocery stores in my area, including regional and national chains. I decided to limit my selection to dips with a medium-level heat, for consistency, and ended up with eight different dips across two categories: salsa con queso and queso blanco

I heated each one in the microwave for 30 seconds, according to packaging instructions (although one required a couple of 30-second intervals). While still warm, the dips were tasted with my favorite, unsalted white corn tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s. (I wanted a blank canvas to better judge the flavors in each queso.) After a day of dipping and snacking, a clear winner emerged in each category, plus a noteworthy runner-up. These are my top dip picks.

Credit: Daniela Alvarez

Best Salsa con Queso: Private Selection Chile con Queso

Most quesos are smooth or have small chunks of whatever pepper gives them their heat; salsa con queso, however, includes the chunks of a salsa (tomatoes, onion, peppers, etc.) that can make for a more robust flavor profile. Kroger’s Private Selection Chile con Queso was the most unique salsa con queso I tried; it was made with chipotle peppers (aka smoked and dried jalapeños) instead of the more common jalapeño, serrano, or bell peppers. 

The consistency was thin enough to not break a tortilla chip when dipping, yet still had a pleasant thickness. It would work great as a creamy sauce on top of chicken tacos or a tostada. While it wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped, the deep flavor and smokiness made this salsa con queso the clear standout.

Buy: Private Selection Medium Chile Con Queso, $3.99 for 12 ounces at Kroger

Credit: Daniela Alvarez

Best Queso Blanco: Cacique Mexican-Style Jalapeño Queso Dip

The first queso I ever tried was a queso blanco, so I was excited to dive (or rather dip!) into these selections. Cacique’s queso caught my attention from the moment I popped the top. It was thicker and lumpier than any other contender in this category, like that of rice pudding. (A quick spin in the microwave smoothed it out a bit.)  

I found small chunks of jalapeño studded throughout the dip; the flavor and heat from the peppers combined perfectly with the saltiness and creaminess of the cheese. It was the freshest tasting, and most balanced and nostalgic of all the dips I tried, and the one dip that kept me coming back for seconds and thirds.

Buy: Cacique Mexican-Style Jalapeño Queso Dip, $8.09 for 16 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Daniela Alvarez

Honorable Mention: Good Foods Plant Based Spicy Queso Blanco Style Dip

Although there were no chickpeas to be found (cauliflower is the main ingredient), this dip had a texture and even flavor that reminded me of hummus. I first tried it warmed with a tortilla chip, and then cold with a baby carrot. While I wouldn’t consider this spicy, the dip was zesty, creamy, and truly shines when paired with raw vegetables or mixed into a pasta or chicken salad. If you’re trying to eat dairy-free or just want to limit your dairy intake, this queso-style dip is a satisfying alternative. But, it’s a dip best served cold!

Buy: Good Foods Plant Based Spicy Queso Blanco Style Dip, $7.39 for 12 ounces at Target

Did your favorite make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.