There are lots of occasions that call for appetizers. Tailgating, outdoor picnics, and friends and family potlocks are a few of the times when delicious finger foods are on the menu. If you want to wow everybody and have them licking the bowl, you’re going to want to make my Smoked Chili Cheese Recipe. It’s a simple take on a popular app, but the flavors will make it the best one your crowd’s ever tasted. Let’s get started!
Gooey, cheese, spicy goodness in every bite is what I think of when I hear “chili cheese queso”. The dish is hearty and flavorful, perfect for anything from game nights to book clubs.
I like to keep my ingredients simple whenever possible, because it makes shopping easier. You can find all these staples at the grocery store or online.
- Velveeta cheese. Nothing melts any better than Velveeta, and it always brings the flavor.
- Cream cheese. I’m aiming for lots of creaminess, and cream cheese helps with that.
- Mild sausage (cooked). Sausage gives any dish a more hearty flavor and even mild sausage is full of flavor.
- Chopped poblano pepper. This dish will have some heat and spice to it, which is why the poblano is a key ingredient.
- White onions. Onions elevate the flavor profile of any recipe and blend well with the other ingredients I’m using.
- Cilantro. I want the dish to have a slightly different flavor than most chili cheese dip, and the fresh, citrus-y cilantro will help with that.
- Tillamook Mexican Cheese. Cheese dip will never have too much cheese, so I planned to pour this on.
- Heath Riles BBQ Beef Rub. I’ve said it before, just because “beef” is in the name doesn’t mean that’s all this rub’s good on.
- Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub. Savory, hot flavor comes from the garlic, jalapeño, and other herbs and spices I used to make this rub.
- Rotel tomatoes. This ingredient complements all the cheeses and other spices and tones down all the cheese just a little bit.
- Hormel chili with no beans. Adding chili to my queso increases its heartiness and adds a nice texture to every bite.
- Sour cream and green onions. These ingredients will garnish the dish perfectly.
- Nacho chips and/or Fritos. These will be the vehicles for the queso.
The Equipment Setup
- Traeger Timberline Grill. I’ve cooked many dishes on my Traeger and it’s never done me wrong. I preheated it to 300 degrees F for today’s dish.
- Traeger Hickory Pellets. Adding some unique smoky flavor to my queso dip is the reason I wanted to cook it on the grill. These pellets will give it a woodsy, smoky flavor that will add to the deliciousness.
The Process for Making Smoked Chili Cheese Queso
You can find a detailed demonstration of this recipe in the video and recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here’s a run through of how I pulled this meal together.
- Add ingredients to a large aluminum pan. I chose an aluminum pan because they are so much easier to clean up than a cast iron skillet. I placed the cheeses in the pan, then added my cooked crumbled sausage, onions, poblano, and cilantro.
- Pour in the Rotel. I opened my cans of Rotel and poured them into the pan with the other ingredients.
- Cover with shredded cheese. I sprinkled the Mexican cheese into the pan, spreading it as evenly as I could across the pan.
- Add seasonings. I spooned in a couple tablespoons of my Beef Rub and followed it with my Garlic Jalapeño Rub. I wanted to add some heat to the queso without using real jalapeños.
- Top with chili. I spooned the can of chili onto the top of the ingredients, patted it around the pan. The Traeger was going to melt everything together, so I didn’t worry about mixing it up.
- Put it on the grill. I placed the pan in the middle of the grate, closed the lid, and left it to cook for about 45 minutes.
- Check and stir. It was looking good and the cheese was melting nicely. Taking a spoon, I stirred it together good. I let it cook for 30 more minutes and stirred it again.
- Remove from the grill. At the hour and forty-five minute mark, I could tell by looking at it that it was cooked and ready. I took it off the grill, let it cool down, and plated it up in a cast iron skillet.
- Garnish and serve. Adding a big dollop of sour cream and a few sprinkles of chopped green onions, this dip was ready to devour.
Using a Frito, I got a big scoop of the queso, took a bite, and it was crazy delicious. Spicy, creamy, gooey, with a hint of smoke from those hickory pellets…unbelievable! If you're a dip person, you cannot delay in making this dish. It won’t disappoint.
Serving Suggestions for Smoked Chili Cheese Queso
I’d say this recipe would feed 6-8, as long as there were other good appetizers on the table.
I doubt you’ll have any leftovers, but if you do, store them in an airtight container in the fridge and eat on them for up to 3 days.
Equipment and Tools
Smoked Chili Cheese Queso on the Traeger
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1 poblano pepper, chopped
2 lb Velveeta Cheese (1 large block)
1 8 oz bag of Tillamook Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
1 lb sausage, cooked and drained (we used mild)
2 cans of Original Rotel
1 can of Chili with no beans (we used Hormel)
1 8 oz block of cream cheese
2 tbsp Heath Riles BBQ Beef Rub
2 tbsp Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub
Get pellet grill up to 300º. We used the Traeger Timberline 1300 with Hickory Pellets.
Mix all ingredients in a large pan.
Place on grill for 45 minutes. Stir ingredients together.
Cook for another 30 minutes, stir again.
Cook for another 30 minutes until all ingredients are melted and combined well. This is a total cook time of 1 hour and 45 minutes.