The Best Queso You Can Buy, According to Pros

Updated: Apr. 19, 2024

Making homemade nachos? Craving a cheesy snack? Our Test Kitchen pros found the best queso in the snack aisle for your cravings.

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Tkp Queso Test Sq
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On the Hunt for the Best Queso

While there’s no replacing homemade chili con queso or a creamy queso fundido, even our Test Kitchen pros admit they don’t always have the time for these scratch-made dips( in case you do have time, check out how to spice up queso dip). That’s when it’s time to head to the grocery store and add a jar of the best queso you can find to your cart.

A jar of store-bought queso is a creamy alternative to your go-to jarred salsa. Plus, it can really take your homemade nachos to the next level.

But if you really want to make these south-of-the-border snacks sing, you better grab a darn tasty queso—not just the first jar you see. That’s why our Test Kitchen had to put every brand they could find to the test—a very delicious test.

How We Tested Store-Bought Queso

We take taste tests very seriously at Taste of Home. For this deliciously spicy test, our team cracked open 10 different jars of salsa con queso. Each was judged blindly so our team could avoid any preconceived biases. With every dunk, our team judged the dips according to these categories:

  • Appearance: Queso should look tempting. Our team wanted to find brands with an appetizing color (think warm gold—not fluorescent yellow) and plenty of visible bits of peppers and tomato.
  • Texture: The best chili con queso dips should be the right texture for dipping tortilla chips—not too runny or thick. Queso should be smooth with plenty of tidbits of peppers and chiles.
  • Flavor: Our team wants to taste cheese, peppers and plenty of spice—cayenne, cumin and chili powder especially.

Check out the dips worth dunking into a second time, the ones we call Test Kitchen-Preferred.

On The Boarder Queso
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Best Crowd-Pleasing Queso

On the Border Salsa con Queso

With salsa con queso, some folks are dipping for the spicy kick and others are dipping for the cheese. For a dip that satisfies everyone, go for On the Border Salsa con Queso.

On the Border Salsa con Queso is packed with vibrant flavor despite the less vivid hue. “There are specks of pepper throughout this one that gives it a nice, subtle heat,” says the Test Kitchen’s Ellie Crowley. This kick is nicely blended with the creamy, mellow taste of Monterey Jack cheese.

Ellie sums up our Test Kitchen’s feelings about this queso nicely: “I could see myself digging into this with no end in sight.”

Good And Gather Queso
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Best Spicy Queso

Good & Gather Salsa con Queso

If you want your nachos to have an extra kick (beyond all the sliced jalapeños you layer on top), head to Target for a jar of Good & Gather Salsa con Queso.

“This one packs more heat than all the others,” says Ellie. And Ellie has that right! There are three kinds of peppers packed into this jar of queso: jalapeños, green chili peppers and cayenne. This dip hits all the right spicy notes as well as some creamy ones thanks to Monterey Jack cheese.

Good & Gather queso also has just the right texture. “I like that this queso is thick enough that it won’t drip off my chip,” explains the Test Kitchen’s Catherine Ward, “But not so thick that it breaks it.”

Queso Mama White Queso
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Best White Queso

Queso Mama White Queso with Roasted Jalapeños

In our lineup, Queso Mama White Queso with Roasted Jalapeños was a real standout thanks to its color and delicious flavor.

This salsa con queso, unlike our other picks, can be found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket alongside other dips like guacamole and French onion dip. You’ll spot it right away with Queso Mama’s fun packaging.

After you pop open this tub and heat up the queso (this dip does need to be heated otherwise it’s just too darn thick), grab your chips and dive in. The jalapeños are visible after giving the queso a quick stir. You’ll get that vibrant and spicy pepper kick as you dip chip after chip.

Beyond the heat, you’ll get rich cheese flavor—”it’s almost buttery,” explains Mark Neufang in the Test Kitchen. “It also has plenty of smoky cumin.”

A disclaimer from our Test Kitchen: Eat this dip fast. When left out too long, it will form a film. If it does, don’t fret—you can give it a stir and another quick zap in the microwave.

Pace Queso
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Smoothest Queso

Pace Salsa con Queso

For a queso dip that’s more akin to nacho cheese, try Pace Salsa con Queso. It’s precisely the dip you want for ballpark-style nachos or this copycat Little Caesar’s pretzel crust pizza.

This dip is definitely more orange than the rest, but it has the queso flavors and textures our team was searching for. “It’s smooth and cheesy with just enough heat,” says Mark.

While this cheese does have the smoothest texture, you’ll still notice a few prominent red pepper flecks throughout. Seeing visible flavor like this is a must for our Test Kitchen.

Taste Of Home Test Kitchen Preferred The Best Products Chosen By Our Experts
Taste of Home

Check Out More Test Kitchen-Preferred Products

Our Test Kitchen is constantly testing food, kitchen gadgets and cleaning gear looking for brands that deserve the right to be called Test Kitchen-Preferred.

If you want to fill your pantry and fridge with the best products, check out these tests: