Healthier Queso Dip

The cheesy, spicy flavor of creamy queso dip is practically addictive. Until recently, the only queso dip I was familiar with was made with Rotel® and Velveeta®. As my husband and I have moved in the direction of healthier eating, we’ve eliminated processed cheese products (including Velveeta®) from our diets.

Healthier Queso Dip | Ditch the fake cheese, but keep the queso dip! Try this cheesy, spicy queso dip that’s made from scratch.

We weren’t about to go without queso dip, though, so I experimented until I found a way to make a healthier—but still tasty—version of it!


  • ½ pound ground meat
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2-3 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla chips


Brown the ground meat in a medium skillet with the taco seasoning. Once cooked thoroughly, stir in the salsa. Cover and simmer over low heat.

Ground Turkey with Salsa for Queso

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream cheese and a splash of the cream over low heat, stirring frequently with a whisk until it takes on the texture of a thick paste.

Cream Cheese Base for Queso

Add the remaining cream and the milk. Slowly increase the heat to medium, stirring constantly. Once the cream mixture is warm, whisk in the shredded cheese a little at a time until it has all been added and the cheese sauce is smooth.

Making Queso | Ditch the fake cheese, but keep the queso dip! Try this cheesy, spicy queso dip that’s made from scratch.

Stir the meat mixture into the cheese sauce. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 4 snack-sized servings.

Ground Turkey and Salsa in Queso | Ditch the fake cheese, but keep the queso dip! Try this cheesy, spicy queso dip that’s made from scratch.


We absolutely love this dip! In fact, my husband often requests that I double the recipe so we’ll have some to eat the next day. I suggest using hot salsa (once diluted in the queso dip, medium salsa leaves very little spice). It doesn’t really matter if you use 2 or 3 ounces of cream cheese (I usually cut an 8 ounce package of cream cheese into thirds for use in different recipes, hence the range).

If we’re lounging around the house, we’ll serve this with a vegetable on the side and eat it as a meal. Served in this way, it only provides 2-3 servings. Served as a snack, it provides 4-6 servings. The ingredients for the recipe (including the tortilla chips) cost $7.31, which is $1.83 per serving (if consumed in 4 servings).

Do you have a favorite dip? What is it?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Weekend Potluck, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Share Your Creativity, Frugal Crafty Home, Saturday Show & Tell, Thrive @ Home, Thriving Thursday, Works for Me Wednesday, Wise Woman & Welcome Home Wednesday.


  1. We love queso!
    I never would have come up with the idea to make it without Velveeta. Why do you use salsa instead of Rotel tomatoes?

    • I prefer salsa because I can use homemade salsa or premade salsa from a jar. As you likely know, we try to avoid canned foods due to the BPA in the cans. Salsa makes a suitable substitute. If you prefer Rotel, this recipe can definitely be made with it.

  2. Norma VanMatre says:

    I am definitely going to try this! I am a believer that any cheese that is not in the fridge is not cheese. I make queso out of Velveeta only because I know no other way. The only other thing for which I use Velveeta is fish bait! Thanks again for another wonderful recipe.

    • You’ll definitely want to give this a try! It takes a bit more work than “traditional” queso made with Velveeta, but it’s worth it. The flavor is great and can be modified by using whatever salsa you prefer, adding green chiles or onion, etc.

  3. This looks good! I love mexican food! Visiting from the Live Called link up.

  4. I dropped in from the Someday Crafts links up and I just wanted to say I love this recipe! Queso is one of my favorite dips and I’ll definitely be giving this a try. I bet the cream cheese makes things ultra creamy!

  5. Made this as a base and it was awesome! Instead of the hot salsa I made a homemade pico salsa to top the queso (onion, jalapeno, and tomato)

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It sounds delicious. Next time I have pico ingredients on hand and we’re craving queso, I’ll give it a try.

  6. This looks yummy! If it’s healthier, too, then that’s even better. Thanks for sharing! I’m a new food blogger and found you on a link party. I’ve followed your social sites and hope we can connect on those. Can’t wait to read more of your blog. Becky

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Becky,
      My husband always asks me to make this when we need a snack for a get together. I always get tons of positive feedback because it really is delicious! I hope you’ll give it a try.

  7. Omg this is so good. I’m making it now for the SB I’m so tempted to eat this whole dip right now.. This is a winner .

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying it, Kourtney! My husband wants it every time there is a big game…or a party…or any other reason he can find! Like you’ve said, though, it doesn’t last long. 🙂

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