This smoked queso recipe with beef is made with two kinds of freshly grated real cheese and no Velveeta! Loads of ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and three kinds of peppers for heat are cooked low and slow in a flavor-infused smoker giving this ultimate queso dip tons of Mexican-inspired flavor. It’s perfect for any game day party, Cinco de Mayo celebration, or backyard cookout, especially when homemade tortilla chips are involved!
If you’re looking for an easy appetizer that will serve a crowd at your next game day party or backyard BBQ, is easy to make, and a notch or two above your traditional cheese dip then smoked queso is exactly what you’re looking for.
You’ll find recipes that use Velveeta cheese or even cream cheese in theirs, but this isn’t one of them. I saved that for my Rotel dip with ground beef, but in this smoked queso, we’re keeping it real with Oaxaca cheese and a shredded Mexican blend which melts just as nicely into a creamy cheesy dip.
It’s loaded with juicy ground beef, onions, tomatoes, spicy chipotle, chiles, and jalapenos for a kick. The wood chips infuse a delicious smoky flavor to the dip as it cooks low and slow until it’s melted.
Smoked queso is so easy to make, the hardest part is just waiting to eat it. There’s nothing for you to do except check on it and stir it once in a while. Even the cleanup is easy!
The next time you’ve got an urge to fire up the smoker, this Traeger queso is a recipe you won’t want to miss!
Why you’ll love this easy Smoked Queso Dip
Simple Ingredients – The ingredients in this cheesy smoked queso dip are pretty basic and easily accessible and even still you can adjust them to suit your preferences. It’s a budget-friendly way to serve a crowd.
Easy to Make – Shred the cheese, cut the onion, and break up the beef. Oh, and open some cans. That’s about all you’re required to do. The smoker does the rest.
So Much Flavor – Adding a smokey flavor to traditional queso is something truly mouthwatering.
Easy Cleanup – It’s all done in one skillet, from browning the beef to completing the dip. You can even make this in a disposable aluminum foil pan, which is great if you need to bring it somewhere.
Ultimate Party Dip – Cookouts, camping, game day parties, potlucks, backyard party, etc. Whatever you make it for, it’s a crowd pleaser.
Equipment you’ll need
Smoked Queso Ingredients
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.
- Lean Ground Beef – I use lean (80/20) and then drain any excess grease if necessary. The melted cheese will produce enough oil that we don’t need to add any more by using fattier meat.
- Onion – Chopped white onion adds texture and amazing flavor once smoked.
- Jalapeno Peppers & Green Chiles – Seeds removed, then diced. These will give the smoked queso some heat and awesome flavor. Keeping the seeds in will increase the spice by a lot, however, no one wants seeds in their dip.
- Chipotle in Adobo Sauce – These also add heat but also provide a sweet, savory, and slightly tangy flavor from the adobo. You can add 3 extra peppers for added heat if you’d like.
- Roma Tomatoes – Chopped and used in the dip itself and some are reserved for the topping. You can also buy a can of Rotel which are diced tomatoes and green chiles and use that instead of the two separate ingredients. Rotel tomatoes come in a range of spices from mild to hot. Pico de gallo would add tons of flavor, too!
- Two Kinds of Cheese – Oaxaca cheese, which is a mild white cheese with a similar consistency to Mozzarella, melts nicely until smooth and creamy. A shredded Mexican blend is also used but I highly recommend you grate your cheese. The pre-shredded packages use anti-clumping agents that do their best to prevent the cheese from melting. You could also use pepper jack cheese.
- Milk – A bit of milk will help to thin out the dip. Beer or broth are a couple of other options!
- Optional Garnish – Top your smoked queso with fresh cilantro, chopped onions, and jalapenos.
How to make Smoked Queso
This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Step One: Add ground beef to a large cast iron skillet, break it up, then place the skillet with beef into the preheated 300° F smoker. Let it cook for 25-30 minutes until no longer pink, breaking it up and stirring as needed.
- Step Two: Remove the skillet, reduce the heat to 225° F, and drain any of the excess grease produced from the cooked beef. An easy way to do this is to use a bunch of paper towels to absorb it. Move the meat to one side of the skillet.
- Step Three: Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet. The onion, jalapeno, chipotles, green chiles, 1 cup of tomatoes, and both types of cheese. Return the skillet to the smoker, close the lid, and let it cook for 1 hour.
- Step Four: Once the cheese has melted, stir in anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of milk to thin it out. This is when you can replace the milk with beer if you prefer. Stir, then close and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Step Five: Last, sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese overtop and let it finish cooking for 20-30 minutes until all the cheese has completely melted. Once your Traeger queso is ready, remove it from the smoker and top it with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, or cilantro. Serve smoked queso warm and enjoy!
What to serve with Smoked Queso
This Mexican-inspired dip has so much flavor that whatever you dip into it shouldn’t overpower anything. That’s why I love homemade tortilla chips. They’re crunchy, lightly salted, and the perfect instrument for scooping!
Tips & Suggestions
- The type of wood chips you decide on will alter the flavor of your smoked queso a bit, so that’s why I say stick to a mild option.
- I use a cast iron skillet so I can cook the ground beef in the same pan, but if you prefer a disposable aluminum pan, that’ll work. Just brown the meat on the stovetop before adding it.
- No smoker? No problem! Make this queso dip in the slow cooker like I do slow cooker queso blanco. Low and slow is key! For that smoky flavor, add a teaspoon of liquid smoke.
- The dip will thicken as it cools. Keep it warm in the slow cooker, on the stove on low, or in the smoker until you’re ready to serve it.
- Add extra flavor to your ground beef by seasoning it with taco seasoning, or spicing it up with cumin or chili powder.
- Use different kinds of cheese to suit your tastes. Gouda, cheddar cheese, or Monterey Jack are great alternatives for this queso dip recipe.
- Swap the ground beef with mild or spicy chorizo or breakfast sausage if desired. If you’ve got leftover taco meat you can throw that in there as well.
How to reheat and store Smoked Queso
How to store leftovers
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container once completely cooled.
How long will homemade smoked queso last in the fridge?
For up to 5 days. It will solidify, so you’ll want to reheat it before you serve it again.
How to reheat Traeger Queso
You can heat the dip up in the microwave for 30-second intervals if you’re just doing a small bowl. If you’re reheating larger portions, you can use the microwave as well, but a skillet on the stovetop over low heat works too.
What kind of wood do you use to smoke queso dip?
I use the Traeger signature blend pellets which is a combination of cherry wood, maple, and hickory. Use whatever mild pellets or wood chunks you have, depending on the type of smoker you have. Pecan is also a nice choice.
If you have a Big Green Egg, that will also work, but that uses lump charcoal instead of pellets.
Can I make this dip vegetarian?
You can make vegetarian smoked queso. Use a can of drained and rinsed black beans in place of the beef.
What can I do with leftovers?
Use it as an ooey gooey cheese sauce and pour it over steamed veggies! Add it to nachos, over french fries, tacos, and baked potatoes. You could even use it as the cheese in your macaroni and cheese.
Traegar Smoked Queso Dip
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