Food & Drink

Erik Niel’s Classic Queso Dip

A melty bowl of this big-game-worthy favorite just might steal the show

Bowl of queso with round chips on the side.

Photo: Courtesy of Little Coyote

You don’t need a Super Bowl party to justify making queso, but you do need queso to justify your Super Bowl party. And while Ro-Tel is never wrong, you can elevate your queso game with the still-easy version made with Mexican melting cheese served at Little Coyote, a new Latin-leaning barbecue spot at the foot of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“This queso works so well because it’s incredibly versatile,” says chef Erik Niel, also of Chattanooga’s Easy Bistro and Main Street Meats and a two-time James Beard Award nominee for best chef in the Southeast. “The base can be made a little or a lot spicy by incorporating more jalapeños or other hot peppers. It’s also great with chili to make it queso con carne, and can be made savory by adding fresh herbs right before serving. There’s something about it that works for everyone—it’s quickly become a staple at Little Coyote. I recommend trying it with fresh corn tortillas because sweet corn and rich queso work together beautifully.”



    • 2 tbsp. butter

    • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced small

    • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small

    • ½ small onion, diced small

    • 1 roma tomato, diced small

    • 2 cups half and half

    • 8 oz. American cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta)

    • 8 oz. Mexican melting cheese, cubed (such as Chihuahua)

    • Corn tortillas or tortilla chips (for serving)


  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the half and half, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Slowly add the American cheese in batches, followed by the Chihuahua cheese in batches. Whisk continually until all the cheese is combined and gooey. Serve warm with corn tortillas or chips.