Direct to Table: Little Rock Cheese Dip [RECIPE + VIDEO]
Whether you’re setting out appetizers for friends or indulging in a night in front of the TV, this cheese dip recipe is easy to make and loaded with gooey goodness. Pair it with crispy tortilla chips for the perfect salty snack.
Cheese Dip’s Texan Roots
Cheese dip was invented in Arkansas, but you can’t ignore its Texan roots. According to one version of history, restauranteur Otis Farnsworth opened the Original Mexican Restaurant in 1900 in San Antonio, Texas, where chile con queso was one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
The original recipe is long gone, but a recipe written in the 1920s and published in a San Antonio women’s organization cookbook is said to be similar. Both recipes used processed American cheese, which became typical of Tex-Mex chile con queso after processed cheese was invented.
James L. Kraft invented a new food processing method in the 1910s that involved heating cheddar cheese while continuously whipping air into the mixture. The result was a more shelf-stable cheese that could be shipped across the country. In the 1930s, Kraft introduced American taste buds to Velveeta, which really changed the game. Soon, home cooks around the country were using processed cheese, regardless of economic status.
It’s Cheese Dip, Not Queso
Cheese dip and queso are made with similar ingredients, but they differ in consistency. Queso is a bit thicker and tends to clump as it cools, while cheese dip is thinner and doesn’t clump up as quickly, so you can keep on dipping.
The history of cheese dip is unconfirmed, but most Arkansans agree that restauranteur Blackie Donnelly was the first to serve cheese dip in 1935 at Mexico Chiquito, an Ark-Mex restaurant in North Little Rock, Ark. Donnelly was working as a pilot some eighty-plus years ago flying a small twin-engine plane between Texas and Mexico.
He eventually settled in Central Arkansas and opened the restaurant. The current owners of Mexico Chiquito say Donnelly’s wife came up with the cheese dip recipe after their many trips across the border, and it’s remained a secret to this day.
In fact, most cheese dip recipes are closely guarded secrets. But don’t worry – we’ll let you in on one with this riff on Arkansas cheese dip. Watch the video below and follow along, or download our free cheese dip recipe card.
Little Rock Cheese Dip Recipe
- 1 (8-ounce) package processed cheese, cubed
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
- 1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
- 1 jar of diced jalapenos, for garnish
- 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish
- Melt cheese in saucepan over medium heat, stirring cheese until smooth.
- Stir in sour cream, chiles, and taco seasoning.
- When well blended, transfer to a serving bowl and arrange jalapenos on top of dish. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.
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