A make-at-home version of Bandera Queso Dip – the highly addictive dip made famous by the restaurant chain.
This is the stuff legends are made of.
If you’ve frequented a restaurant called Bandera and ordered their famous Queso Dip you know what I mean. It’s unforgettable. A delightful mixture of smokey, spicy cheese that you cannot stop eating. Unlike the hot, melted variety of queso, Bandera’s version is a cold dip that is similar to pimento cheese but with a Southwestern kick. I’ve been bound and determined to figure this recipe out since the first time I tried it and good gosh almighty, I’ve nailed it!
But I had a little help.
Quite some time ago, I got an email from a very nice woman who told me that she and her girlfriends share my love for this dip. So much, in fact, that one of her girlfriends, who she described as “ridiculously good looking”, flirted outrageously with the poor manager one night until he handed over the recipe. Maybe it’s wrong? Maybe.
If you try the dip you’ll understand.
I was beside myself, jumping for joy, over the moon, happy when I read that email, but something wasn’t quite right with the recipe she sent along. I knew just from looking at the list of ingredients that while some of the main flavor components were there, the texture would be off if I followed the manager’s directions. I suspect he was holding out as any faithful Bandera employee would. So, I’ve tweaked and played with it and I’m incredibly happy with the result. It is perfection.
Let’s make some Queso!
Here are the ingredients that add the smoke, spice, and unique look to this dip. Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pimentos, and a fresh jalapeno. These canned peppers are very spicy so we’ll use them sparingly but they a very necessary element. If you are afraid of the heat level, you can use less, but don’t leave them out altogether.
Shred 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup of Monterey jack. Use the cheese grater to grate a couple of tablespoons of yellow onion. Adding grated onion to a recipe like this eliminates the crunchy texture that comes from adding diced onion. It’s all about adding flavor.
Finely dice a couple of chipotle peppers and 2 tablespoons pimentos.
Grab a mixing bowl and combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, fresh ground pepper, and grated onion. Toss in the diced peppers and pimentos.
A quick note – I use both light mayonnaise and reduced fat cream cheese because it is what I always have on hand in my kitchen. Use what you have; use what you like.
I strongly recommend removing both the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno before dicing it and adding it to the mixture. You are going to get plenty of heat from the chipotle peppers.
In goes the shredded cheese.
To get more of that wonderful smokey flavor, I added 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the canned peppers. I recommend starting with 1/2 teaspoon and then give it a taste and add more if you think it needs it.
Cover and refrigerate the dip for a couple of hours before serving to allow the flavors to intensify. So intense!
I want to thank the wonderful woman for her email and a special thanks to her super hot girlfriend who finagled the basis for this recipe out of the manager at Bandera that fateful night.
Words cannot express my gratitude. My entire family thanks you.
Bandera Queso Dip
- 4 ounces.cream cheese reduced fat or regular, room temperature
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise light or regular
- 1/2 teasoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons yellow onion grated
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce finely diced
- 2 tablespoons pimentos finely diced
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese grated
- 1 jalapeno seeded and very finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers or to taste
- Use a wooden spoon to combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, Lawry's Seasoning Salt, fresh ground pepper and grated onion in a large mixing bowl till smooth. Add diced chipotle peppers and pimentos. Stir till well combined. Add cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, diced jalapeno, and 1/2 teaspooon adobo sauce from the canned chipotle peppers. Stir till combined. Taste and add additional adobo sauce for more smoke and heat, if desired.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or more prior to serving.