Cafe Rio Queso Recipe

Indulge in the Irresistible Creaminess: Discover the Café Rio Queso Recipe, Perfected for Your Tastebuds

Cafe Rio Queso

About this recipe

Café Rio queso, it's a mouthwatering delight that's hard to resist! This creamy and cheesy dip is a staple at Café Rio, known for its rich flavors and satisfying texture.

Imagine a velvety smooth blend of melted Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses coming together in perfect harmony. The combination of these two cheeses creates a balance of flavors—Monterey Jack brings a mild and slightly tangy taste, while cheddar adds a sharper and nuttier note.

To enhance the queso's depth of flavor, mild green chilies are added to give it a subtle kick without overpowering the cheese. These chilies add a hint of smokiness and a touch of mild heat, elevating the overall taste experience.

Spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin powder are included to enhance the queso's savory profile. These spices add a robust and aromatic element, creating a well-rounded flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

As for its texture, Café Rio queso strikes the perfect balance between thick and pourable. The addition of a roux, made by combining butter and flour, helps thicken the sauce to a creamy consistency. It coats your tortilla chips or whatever you choose to dip into it with a luscious and satisfying texture.

Café Rio queso is versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways. It's a fantastic dip for tortilla chips, adding a burst of cheesy goodness to every bite.

You can also use it as a delicious topping for quesadillas, tacos, or burritos, adding an extra layer of indulgence to your favorite Mexican dishes.

Recipe origin and background

Café Rio is a popular Mexican restaurant chain that originated in the United States, specifically in Utah, in the mid-1990s. They are known for their fresh and flavorful Mexican cuisine, including their delicious queso.

It's worth mentioning that queso itself is a popular Mexican dish, typically made by melting cheese and combining it with various ingredients such as spices, chilies, and herbs. Different regions and restaurants have their own unique variations and secret recipes for queso.

In the case of Café Rio, their queso recipe has become a signature item on their menu, loved by many of their customers. The restaurant has gained a reputation for its commitment to high-quality ingredients and made-from-scratch recipes.

While the exact details of their queso recipe remain a closely guarded secret, it is likely that their version combines traditional Mexican flavors with their own special touch to create a distinct and delicious queso experience.

Over the years, Café Rio has expanded its presence, opening numerous locations across several states. Their queso has gained a dedicated following, becoming one of the standout items on their menu.

People enjoy its creamy texture, cheesy goodness, and flavorful blend of spices, making it a popular choice for dipping chips or enhancing various Mexican dishes.

What does Cafe Rio Queso taste like?

The taste of Café Rio queso is predominantly characterized by the rich and creamy notes of melted cheese. The combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses creates a harmonious blend that offers a mild and tangy flavor from the Monterey Jack, while the cheddar brings a sharper and nuttier taste. This marriage of cheeses results in a savory and indulgent experience.

The addition of mild green chilies adds a subtle yet distinct kick to the queso. These chilies infuse the dip with a touch of smokiness and mild heat, providing a layer of complexity to the overall taste. The heat level is generally mild, allowing the cheese flavors to shine through without overwhelming the palate.

The spices used in Café Rio queso, such as garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin powder, contribute to its savory profile. The garlic powder adds a hint of pungent and aromatic notes, while the onion powder brings a sweet and savory element. Cumin powder, with its earthy and warm flavor, adds a touch of depth and complexity to the queso.

Combined, these flavors create a well-rounded taste experience that is creamy, cheesy, slightly tangy, and subtly spiced. The queso strikes a balance between flavors, offering a harmonious blend that is both comforting and satisfying.

What is in Cafe Rio Queso?

  • Butter: Butter is used to create a roux, which helps thicken the queso and adds richness to the flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: Flour is combined with the butter to create the roux, which serves as a thickening agent for the queso.
  • Whole milk: Milk is the liquid base for the queso, providing a creamy texture and helping to melt the cheese smoothly.
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese: Monterey Jack cheese is known for its mild and slightly tangy flavor. It melts well and adds a creamy and smooth texture to the queso.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: Cheddar cheese brings a sharper and nuttier taste to the queso. It adds depth of flavor and enhances the cheesiness of the dip.
  • Mild green chilies: Diced mild green chilies contribute a subtle kick to the queso without overpowering the flavors. They provide a touch of smokiness and mild heat.
  • Garlic powder: Garlic powder adds a savory and aromatic element to the queso, enhancing its overall flavor profile.
  • Onion powder: Onion powder contributes a sweet and savory note to the queso, complementing the other flavors.
  • Cumin powder: Cumin powder adds an earthy and warm flavor to the queso, providing depth and complexity.
  • Salt: Salt is used to enhance the overall taste and balance the flavors in the queso. It should be added according to personal preference.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Medium-sized saucepan: A saucepan is used to heat and simmer the queso ingredients. If you don't have a medium-sized saucepan, you can use a similar-sized pot or even a deep skillet with high sides.
  • Whisk: A whisk is used to stir and combine the ingredients smoothly, ensuring a creamy texture. If you don't have a whisk, you can use a fork or a spoon, but it may take a bit more effort to achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Measuring spoons: Measuring spoons are essential for accurately measuring the spices, such as garlic powder, onion powder, cumin powder, and salt. If you don't have measuring spoons, you can estimate the quantities using regular spoons or adjust the amounts based on personal taste preferences.
  • Cheese grater: A cheese grater is needed to grate the Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. If you don't have a cheese grater, you can often find pre-shredded cheese at the grocery store, although grating your own cheese typically results in a better texture.
  • Cutting board and knife: A cutting board and knife are useful for dicing the mild green chilies. If you don't have mild green chilies, you can use canned diced green chilies as a substitute.
  • Serving bowl: A serving bowl is needed to present the queso. Any heat-resistant bowl or dish of suitable size can be used.

How to make Cafe Rio Queso

Savor the creamy deliciousness of Café Rio Queso with our perfect recipe. Easy to make, this crowd-pleasing dip will leave you craving for more!


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced mild green chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Once the butter has melted, add the flour to the pan and whisk continuously for about 1 minute to create a roux.
  3. Gradually pour in the milk while whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle simmer.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses to the saucepan. Stir until the cheeses have melted and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Add the diced green chilies, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin powder, and a pinch of salt. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  6. Allow the queso to simmer on low heat for an additional 2-3 minutes to let the flavors meld together. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent the queso from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Taste the queso and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt or spices according to your preference.
  8. Once the queso has reached your desired consistency and flavor, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a serving bowl.
  9. Serve the queso warm with tortilla chips, as a dip for quesadillas, or as a topping for your favorite Mexican dishes.

How to serve Cafe Rio Queso

  1. Prepare the queso: Follow the recipe instructions to make the Café Rio-style queso. Once it's cooked and has reached your desired consistency, remove it from the heat.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl: Carefully pour or spoon the queso into a heat-resistant serving bowl. Choose a bowl that's large enough to hold the queso and accommodate dipping or serving utensils.
  3. Garnish (optional): If desired, you can garnish the queso with some additional ingredients to add visual appeal and flavor. Consider adding a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, or a dash of paprika on top. These garnishes can enhance the presentation and provide a pop of color.
  4. Serve with accompaniments: Café Rio-style queso is typically enjoyed as a dip with tortilla chips. Arrange a platter or bowl of tortilla chips alongside the queso bowl for easy access. You can use either plain tortilla chips or flavored ones, depending on your preference.
  5. Additional serving options: Apart from tortilla chips, Café Rio queso can be served in various ways. It can be used as a topping for quesadillas, nachos, tacos, or burritos, adding a creamy and cheesy element to these dishes. You can also pair it with fresh vegetables like sliced bell peppers, carrot sticks, or celery sticks for a healthier alternative.
  6. Enjoy! Once everything is arranged and ready, invite your guests or dig in yourself! Dip the tortilla chips or other accompaniments into the queso and savor the delicious flavors. Be sure to stir the queso occasionally while serving to maintain its smooth and creamy consistency.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 684 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Cafe Rio Queso, Cafe Rio Queso Recipe, Recipe, Top rated, Copycat, Easy

What to serve Cafe Rio Queso with

Café Rio-style queso is a versatile dip that can be paired with a variety of accompaniments to create a delicious and satisfying meal or snack. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Tortilla chips: Classic tortilla chips are the go-to choice for serving with queso. Their crispy texture and saltiness complement the creamy and cheesy flavors of the dip.
  2. Fresh vegetables: If you're looking for a healthier option, consider serving Café Rio queso with a selection of fresh vegetables. Sliced bell peppers, carrot sticks, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes make great dippers. They provide a refreshing crunch and balance out the richness of the queso.
  3. Soft pretzels: Soft pretzels, whether homemade or store-bought, are a delicious alternative to tortilla chips. The combination of the slightly salty pretzels with the creamy queso creates a delightful contrast of flavors and textures.
  4. Breadsticks or bread cubes: Crispy breadsticks or cubed bread can be served alongside the queso for dipping. Choose a crusty baguette, breadsticks, or even mini toasts to enjoy with the cheesy goodness.
  5. Nachos: Take your queso game to the next level by creating loaded nachos. Arrange a layer of tortilla chips on a baking sheet, drizzle the queso over them, and then add toppings such as diced tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, cooked ground beef or shredded chicken, black beans, and guacamole. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly for a deliciously indulgent treat.
  6. Quesadillas: Spread the queso inside a tortilla along with other fillings like cooked chicken, sautéed vegetables, or beans. Grill or toast the quesadilla until the cheese is melted, creating a double dose of cheesiness.
  7. Tacos or burritos: Use the queso as a flavorful topping for your tacos or burritos. Whether you're making beef, chicken, or veggie tacos, adding a spoonful of queso on top can take them to the next level.
  8. Baked potatoes: Spoon some queso over a baked potato, and it becomes a cheesy and satisfying meal. You can also add toppings like bacon bits, sour cream, and chives for additional flavor.

My recommendations and tips

  1. Adjust the spice level: If you prefer a spicier queso, you can increase the heat by using hotter chilies or adding a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper. Conversely, if you prefer a milder queso, you can reduce the amount of green chilies or opt for mild or roasted chilies.
  2. Experiment with cheese ratios: While the recipe typically calls for a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, you can adjust the ratios to suit your taste preferences. If you prefer a stronger cheese flavor, increase the proportion of cheddar. If you want a creamier and milder flavor, lean more towards Monterey Jack.
  3. Use high-quality cheese: The quality of the cheese can significantly impact the flavor and texture of your queso. Opt for good-quality, freshly grated cheese for the best results. Avoid using pre-packaged shredded cheese, as it may contain additives that affect melting and texture.
  4. Heat gently and stir frequently: When melting the cheese and combining the ingredients, use low to medium heat and stir frequently. This helps prevent the cheese from clumping or burning and ensures a smooth and creamy texture.
  5. Add liquids gradually: When adding the milk to the queso, do it gradually. This allows you to control the consistency and prevent the queso from becoming too thin. You can add more milk if needed, but it's easier to adjust gradually rather than trying to thicken it later.
  6. Keep it warm: If you're serving the queso for a gathering or party, consider using a small slow cooker or fondue pot to keep the queso warm. This ensures it stays at an optimal dipping consistency throughout the gathering.
  7. Customize your garnishes: Get creative with the garnishes. In addition to the suggested options, you can add diced avocados, sliced green onions, or even a drizzle of hot sauce on top for added flavor and visual appeal.
  8. Double the recipe for larger gatherings: If you're expecting a larger crowd or want to make sure there's plenty of queso to go around, feel free to double the recipe. Adjust the ingredients accordingly and use a larger saucepan for cooking.
  9. Have extra accompaniments: Make sure to have an ample supply of tortilla chips or other dippers on hand. It's always better to have more than run out, especially if you're hosting a party or gathering.
  10. Enjoy it fresh: Café Rio-style queso is best enjoyed fresh and warm. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stovetop or microwave, adding a splash of milk to maintain the desired consistency.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • Butter substitute: If you prefer a dairy-free or vegan option, you can substitute the butter with an equal amount of margarine or a plant-based butter alternative.
  • Flour substitute: To make the queso gluten-free, you can replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch. Use the same amount called for in the recipe, but keep in mind that cornstarch may create a slightly different texture.
  • Milk substitute: If you need a dairy-free or lactose-free alternative, you can use unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or any other non-dairy milk of your choice. Choose one that has a mild flavor to avoid overpowering the queso.
  • Cheese substitutes: If you're looking for a dairy-free or vegan option, there are various plant-based cheeses available on the market that can be used as a substitute for Monterey Jack and cheddar. Look for brands that specialize in dairy-free cheeses made from ingredients like cashews, almonds, or soy.
  • Mild green chili substitutes: If you can't find mild green chilies or prefer a different flavor, you can substitute them with diced roasted red peppers or even pickled jalapeños. Adjust the amount based on your desired level of heat.
  • Garlic and onion powder substitutes: If you don't have garlic powder or onion powder on hand, you can use fresh minced garlic and finely chopped onion instead. Use about 1 clove of garlic and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion for every 1/2 teaspoon of powder.

Additional note%/h2>
  1. Storage and reheating: If you have leftover Café Rio-style queso, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can typically be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. When reheating, gently warm it on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of milk to maintain the desired consistency.
  2. Queso thickness: The consistency of the queso can vary depending on personal preference. If you prefer a thicker queso, you can reduce the amount of milk or add more cheese. If you find the queso too thick, you can add a little more milk to thin it out.
  3. Customization: Feel free to customize the queso to suit your taste preferences. You can add additional spices or seasonings, such as paprika, chili powder, or cayenne pepper, to add extra flavor. Experimenting with different cheese combinations or adding ingredients like cooked bacon, diced jalapeños, or black beans can also create interesting variations.
  4. Presentation: When serving the queso, consider adding a decorative touch to enhance the presentation. You can sprinkle some finely chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley on top for a pop of color. Serve the queso in a warm bowl or fondue pot to keep it at an optimal temperature.
  5. Scaling the recipe: The recipe provided is for a specific number of servings. If you need to adjust the quantity, you can scale the ingredients accordingly. Keep in mind that altering the amounts may also affect the cooking time and overall taste, so be mindful of that.
  6. Pairing beverages: Café Rio-style queso goes well with a variety of beverages. Traditional options include refreshing drinks like lemonade, iced tea, or a cold Mexican beer. If you prefer non-alcoholic options, you can serve it with soft drinks, sparkling water, or even a fruit-infused agua fresca.
  7. Safety precautions: When handling hot ingredients and cookware, exercise caution to avoid burns or accidents. Use oven mitts or kitchen towels when handling hot pots or pans, and be mindful of the heat when stirring the queso on the stovetop.

Final Remark

Enjoy the delectable delights of Café Rio Queso with our recipe. Whether you're hosting a gathering or simply treating yourself, this crowd-pleasing dip is sure to satisfy your cravings. Get ready to indulge in creamy perfection!

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