Everybody loves hot cheese. Queso, the yellow, melty hot cheese sauce that dresses tortilla chips, is no exception to the rule. The Instagram-friendly Tex-Mex creation has some peppery roots in its native land.

Queso fundido, which translates to molten or melted cheese, is the more flavorful Mexican cousin of queso, usually served with grilled peppers folded in. If you’re traveling through Mexico and you’re craving the liquid gold, be sure to order queso fundido and not just queso, otherwise you’ll end up with a bowl of queso fresco, according to chef Albert Gonzalez of Grizzelda’s in Austin, Texas.

Gonzalez tells Food Republic that he’s brought it on himself to convince queso-loving Texans to explore the world of queso fundido by serving both. Gonzalez grew up in Chicago and says that he wasn’t even familiar with queso as the hot cheese dip until he moved to Austin.

Chef Albert Gonzalez
Chef Albert Gonzalez

“I’d heard of it, but I don’t recall having had it until I moved [to Austin],” Gonzalez says. “When I gained an appreciation for it, I saw a really big opportunity for [Grizzelda’s]. At other places that I’ve been, other places I’ve seen, other people I’ve talked to, they’re all using easy-melting cheese with a little milk in it. I thought there was a way to be more authentic.”

Grizzelda’s queso fundido combines stretchy Oaxaca cheese, Manchego and Chihuahua cheeses with grilled poblano and red bell peppers. As for their regular queso, Oaxaca, Asadero and Manchego cheeses are combined with milk and heavy cream to achieve that melty cheesiness. The cheese dips are served with tortilla chips, but Gonzalez prefers another vehicle.

“If I’m eating queso fundido, I’m eating it with some fresh corn tortillas,” says Gonzalez. “I’m thinking about it, and it sounds ridiculous, hot cheese tacos, but I don’t care because it’s delicious, and it’s hot cheese tacos! It’s the height of comfort.”

Grizzelda’s Queso Fundido

Courtesy of Chef Albert Gonzalez

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1 cup Oaxaca cheese
  • 1/4 cup Manchego cheese
  • 1/2 cup Chihuahua cheese
  • 1/2 cup rajas peppers (sliced peppers)

Directions

  1. Grate all cheeses together on most coarse side of cheese grater.
  2. Mix cheese with the peppers.
  3. Fill a cast-iron skillet and place in a 450°F oven until melted, bubbly and golden brown.