Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (2024)

· FoodHussy · 33 Comments





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So I’ve been OBSESSED with Carlos O’Kellys Queso FOREVER! It’s literally the perfect food – it’s a cheesy sauce with chunks of tomato and onion and you get to eat it on chips! I mean – what more is there in life? Plus – it’s super easy to make!!!

How did you get the recipe?

For 15 years – I’ve made my friends go to Carlos every single time I went back home to Iowa. I mean – I went to IOWA just for this food! But no more!

Why? A magical friend that is an ex-employee of Carlos told me the secrets – and now I have the recipe!!!!! Let me tell you – it’s easy and it DOESN’T use Ro-tel tomatoes! What????? I know! The flavor is so much better. I will never ever ever make another queso again – and you won’t either!

Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (2)

Copycat Carlos O’Kelly’s Chile Con Queso Dip Ingredients

This is a simple recipe and I love that it uses fresh vegetables. It has a much better bite on your chips! So get a bowl and scoop some chips in this amazing queso!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Butter – use real butter – please!
  • Garlic Powder
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Jalapeno – you could also use the canned green chiles but fresh jalapenos are the best!
  • 1-pound box Velveeta (yes it uses process cheese food – because it’s amazing)
  • Sour Cream
  • And a big bag of tortilla chips!
Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (3)

How to make the Food Hussy recipe for Copycat Carlos O’Kelly’s Queso

What makes this queso so good? It’s creamy and chunky – and it’s because you actually saute the veggies in butter BEFORE you add in the cheese! The other key is low and slow – with the veggies and the cheese. So don’t fire that stove on high for pete’s sake! Take your time – it’s all of five minutes and it’s worth it!

  • Heat butter in saute pan on medium heat
  • Add garlic powder, onion, tomato and Jalapeno
  • Cook until soft on a low temperature (the longer and slower the better)
  • Cut cheese into cubes and put Velveeta cheese chunks in a mini crock pot
  • Add sauteed veggies
  • Cook on low until Velveeta melts for about an hour.
  • Add sour cream, stir and serve. Keep on warm.

Can you put this queso on the smoker?

Yes!!! This recipe was the base for my famous Traeger Smoked Queso! Putting it on the Traeger adds another layer of flavor that is delicious!

Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (4)

More Carlos O’Kelly’s Copycat Recipes

Carlos O’Kelly’s has the most delightful tex-mex flavor and all my favorite recipes!

  • Carlos O’Kelly’s Restaurant Salsa
  • Enchilada De Monterrey with Chicken

More Dip Recipes

Grab your favorite chips and get to dippin!

  • Chuy’s Jalapeno Ranch Dip
  • Aldi Street Corn Dip
  • Jarlsberg Cheese Dip

Recipes that go great with Queso!

  • Air Fryer Steak Fajitas
  • Trash Can Nachos
  • Cheeseburger Fries

Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (5)

Carlos O’Kellys Queso Recipe – the Best Queso Ever!

So I've been OBSESSED with Carlos O'Kellys Chili Con Queso FOREVER! It's literally the perfect food – it's a cheesy sauce with chunks of tomato and onion and you get to eat it on chips! I mean – what more is there in life? Plus – it's super easy to make!!!

4.70 from 23 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 1 hour hr

Total Time 1 hour hr 10 minutes mins


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup diced onion 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato 1 small
  • 2 tbsp diced Jalapeno canned or fresh
  • 1 lb Velveeta diced
  • 2/3 cup sour cream


  • Melt butter in saute pan

    2 tbsp butter

  • Add garlic powder, onion, tomato and Jalapeno

    1 tsp garlic powder, 3/4 cup diced onion, 1/2 cup diced tomato, 2 tbsp diced Jalapeno

  • Cook until soft on a low temperature (the longer and slower the better)

  • Cut Velveeta into cubes and put in a mini crock pot

    1 lb Velveeta

  • Add sauteed veggies

  • Cook on low until Velveeta melts for about an hour.

  • Add sour cream, stir and serve. Keep on warm.

    2/3 cup sour cream


**We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**


Calories: 189kcalCarbohydrates: 6.9gProtein: 8.9gFat: 15.3gSaturated Fat: 9.1gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 673mgPotassium: 62mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 4gCalcium: 265mg

Keyword copycat, queso

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!





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  1. Plain Chicken says

    I can not wait to make this!!! I have a serious weakness for queso!


  2. FoodHussy says

    Sure! I would say fresh are probably stronger – I would suggest sauteing them with the tomatoes and onions – and you'll have to play it by ear on how many you want to add – depending on how spicy you like it!


  3. Lucy says

    Thank you so so so much! This is the real thing! I moved to AZ and have been craving this for years but could never find the right recipe!


  4. FoodHussy says

    i know!!! my buddy worked there – so it's spot on!


  5. Jared says

    I cannot wait to try this! I LOVED Carlos O’Kelly’s in Springfield, MO, and it’s been sadly gone for years now! Thank you so much for these Carlos recipes I can’t wait to try. I loved the Enchilada De Monterrey, I’m hoping you add that recipe one day! We use On The Border “Cantina Thins” with our homemade salsa and they taste very much like Carlos’ chips! Thank You again!


    • FoodHussy says

      I reached out to my former Carlos chef and got the Monterrey and Sancho Especial recipes! Coming soon! be sure to subscribe to my email!

    • Jared says

      OH MY GOODNESSSSSSSS, I can’t convey my excitement through this message!! Hahahaha I’m seriously sooo excited thank you, thank you, thank you so much. My mouth is watering! And it wasn’t until I seen the word “Sancho” that I remembered our favorite was the “Sancho de Monterrey” special! I’m beyond excited thank you so much.

    • Jennifer says

      Trade you the recipe for the salsa and the pablano cream sauce for the fajita cheese crisp and the diablo sauce lol!! Send me an email. My friend worked there too! I traded a photo session for the recipes myself haha!

    • Jared says

      Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (6)
      @FoodHussy Please, Please, Please post the Sancho recipe!!! We make the Monterrey all the time since you posted it!:)

    • FoodHussy says

      Hahaha – love it!

  6. Jared says

    Another EXQUISITE recipe Heather!! I love love love this website, I made this for a game night and it was sooooo good, creamy, cheesy, flavorful!! Everyone LOVED it! Thank you again! -Jared


  7. Brenda says

    I worked at Carlos O’Kelly’s for many years. This recipe is spot-on! Thank you for sharing it.


    • FoodHussy says

      Love it!!! My friend that used to work there clued me in!!!

    • Shane says

      Hi Brenda,
      This is for you or anyone else who reads this who worked at Carlos. I’d love to see The Food Hussy post the recipes for the:
      -Poblano Cream Sauce
      -Diablo Sauce
      -Chipotle Butter Garlic

  8. Jeni says

    You need to get a hold of that fajita cheese crisp recipe! Yum!! Growing up Carlos O Kelly’s literally was my favorite! So many memories with my family there. Can’t wait to try this one. Thank you!!


    • FoodHussy says

      I’ll be sure to ask my connection for that one! 😉

  9. Wilma Geraci says

    I am making this today. I have been trying to make this for years. Trying to copy a restraint called Pancho’s in Okla. city which does not exist anymore. I’m sure this recipe is spot on. Thank you.


    • FoodHussy says

      you will LOVE it!!!! i got this from a former employee and it was perfect!

  10. Jared says

    Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (7)
    Once again I am just eternally grateful for your Carlos recipes! Hahaha! THEY’RE SO GOOD!!!!!! Thank you, thank you,thank you!


    • FoodHussy says

      Hahaha – it’s great to have connections – glad you liked!

  11. Lora says

    Came out way to thick, tastee but not quite what I wanted


    • FoodHussy says

      You could always add some milk to thin it out if you’d like – I like the consistency

  12. Riana says

    Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (8)
    This is amazing!! Can you ask your friend for the pasta diablo recipe??? It’s just as amazing as the queso!


    • FoodHussy says

      will do!

  13. Martin says

    Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (9)
    Hi. This recipe is fairly accurate with one exception. Substitute white pepper for the garlic powder. You can use whatever flavor suits you but white pepper was used in the restaurant. I worked as a prep cook there for about 6 years and know how to make most of their dishes.


    • FoodHussy says

      Thanks for the notes – a former employee shared with me as well. 🙂

  14. Martin says

    Hi Jeni. The secret to the fajita crisp is the base. It is made simply from a 10″ flour tortilla fried. The trick to frying it flat is to use a screen of some kind to hold it flat. If you don’t it will blow up and be unusable. Fry to a light golden brown and allow to drip dry. That is the crust for the fajita crisp. The sauce is simply a creamy butter garlic sauce (the recipe is floating around out there). The fajita chicken is marinated in a mixture of season salt, chipolte pepper, a bit of flour and orange juice. allow the chicken breast to marinate a day or so. The mixture should be an orange colored thickish sauce. Grill the marinated chicken breast until done then cut into small cubes. Spread the butter garlic sauce on the fried tortilla, sprinkle the cubed chicken, and top with monterey jack cheese. Broil until cheese is well melted. Garnish with fresh diced tomatoes and chopped green onion and serve.


    • Tracy says

      Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (10)
      SOLD! Wow, thanks for sharing! I’ve been following this thread for comments just like yours, so Thank You!!
      By the way, this Carlos O’Kelly’s Queso recipe is spot on ❤️❤️❤️

    • FoodHussy says

      AWWWWW thanks for the compliment – it is my fav recipe!

  15. Ruth says

    I have the recipe from right off the kitchen wall of our local Carlos (now closed of course). Can’t say how I got it. 🙂 It calls for 1 tbsp red chile powder for a 5lb block of Velveeta so I use a rounded 1/2 tsp for 1lb of Velveeta. Otherwise your recipe is spot on. Thanks!


    • FoodHussy says

      well i got mine from a similar source – the co*k are still open in iowa – and this was their recipe

  16. Ruth says

    Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (11)
    Possibly a regional difference? I’m in central Illinois. I’m so jealous that yours is still open! My kids and I are threatening a road trip just to eat there! Thanks again for your great recipes!


Carlos O'Kelly's Queso Recipe (aka THE BEST QUESO EVER!) - The Food Hussy (2024)


What kind of cheese is queso blanco made from? ›

Queso Blanco means “white cheese” in Spanish and it originated in Mexico. It's made by pressing the whey cottage cheese, resembling a mild feta.

What does Casablanca cheese taste like? ›

An “Around the World With Chevre” flavor from the African Continent! Contains dried figs, dates, cherries, raisins, pistachios, and Moroccan Ras Al Hanout seasoning with over 20 spices. This unique cheese is perfect to bake over yams, or melt over pan-seared thin beef strips.

Why is queso dip called queso? ›

Queso is a Spanish word that translates to “cheese” in English. However, when people refer to “queso” in the context of food, they are usually talking about a type of melted cheese dip that is commonly enjoyed as a snack or appetizer, particularly in Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines.

What is the history of queso in Texas? ›

There are tales of a San Antonio, Texas, restaurateur named Otis Farnsworth who developed the silken cheese dip when he supposedly created the first Tex-Mex restaurant in 1900. Others say queso was born from a 1908 Kentucky newspaper recipe for Mexican rarebit, a spicy take on another melted cheese dish, Welsh rarebit.

What is the difference between queso and cheese dip? ›

Scanning the internet and the supermarket shelf, we realized that the cheese sauces are divided into two basic categories: Queso Dips, which include some amount of heat, spices, and other flavorings, and Cheese Dips, which are cheese and little else.

What is the difference between queso and white queso? ›

Although they are often used interchangeably, queso blanco is typically seen in fried or grilled dishes because it doesn't completely melt when exposed to heat. On the other hand, queso fresco is often used to top off soups, tacos and salads due to its crumbly nature.

What cheese do most Mexican restaurants use? ›

Two of the most common Mexican cheeses you probably heard are cotija and queso fresco. These two popular Mexican kinds of cheese have distinctive characters that they add to various Mexican dishes. Queso fresco and cotija cheese are the most common and are often compared to each other for multiple reasons.

What kind of cheese do Mexican restaurants use on tacos? ›

Queso Cotija

One of the most popular Mexican cheeses around, Cotija is a winner no matter how you slice it. Or rather, how you crumble it. This crumbly, dry cheese is an incredible addition to beans, salads, corn and tacos. It has definite saltiness to it, packing a flavor punch no matter what you put it on.

What is the best Mexican cheese for melting? ›

Queso asadero is Mexican cheese that's great for melting. It is soft, white and creamy with a mild taste, and is often used to make pizzas, quesadillas and queso fundido.

What do Mexicans call queso? ›

Chile con queso ( lit. 'chile with cheese'), sometimes simply called queso, is an appetizer or side dish of melted cheese and chili peppers, typically served in Tex-Mex restaurants as a dip for tortilla chips.

What country invented queso? ›

Some claim that cheese dip was actually invented either at a Mexican restaurant in Hot Springs or in Texas, while others claim that cheese dip is native to Mexico. Mexicans have many cheese-based dishes in which cheese acts as a filling or topping for tortillas, such as Queso Chihuahua.

What's the difference between queso and con queso? ›

Queso, the Tex-Mex cheese dip that has blown up in menus and headlines around the country, is short for “chile con queso,” which translates to “chile with cheese” in English. In other words, there's a lot more to queso than just cheese. (On the other hand, queso fresco is just a type of cheese.)

What is the queso capital of the world? ›

Explore Plymouth, the Original Cheese Capital of the World!

Is queso an American thing? ›

Queso (The Food, Not The Word)

The Velveeta version that's popular in the US actually originated in, you guessed it, Texas.

What Mexican food was invented in Texas? ›

This practice became common in Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants throughout the U.S. in the 1950s. Now a Tex-Mex classic, fajitas were invented by Ninfa Rodriguéz Laurenzo in Houston, Texas in the 1970s. It wasn't until the 1960s that the first known mention of the term Tex-Mex occurred.

What kind of cheese is queso cheese? ›

To get that classic Mexican restaurant-style queso dip, use white American cheese (it melts really smoothly). You might also come across other varieties of “queso blanco” or “queso fresco” at your local grocery store. If you can't find any of that, try white cheddar, Muenster, or Swiss.

What kind of cheese is queso from Mexican restaurant? ›

To make the traditional Mexican restaurant style queso blanco, use white American cheese.

Is queso blanco like mozzarella? ›

Queso blanco is a general term for fresh white cheese, but is also the name given to a fresh white cheese often described as a cross between mozzarella and cottage cheese. This cheese is typically made from skim cow's milk. While it doesn't melt particularly well, it does soften nicely when heated.

What is the white cheese at Mexican restaurants made of? ›

What is the melty white cheese in cheese enchiladas at many Mexican restaurants? Highly likely it is Monterey Jack cheese, which is white.

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