Southwest Chile Cheese Fondue

This Southwest chile fondue blends Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese with cream, cream cheese, and plenty of Southwestern flavor. Offer sturdy tortilla chips, warm flour tortillas, chunks of cooked chorizo sausage, and plenty of crunchy fresh vegetables as fondue dippers.–Peggy Fallon

LC What'd You Call That? Note

Um, depending on the crowd you run with, you may wish to refer to this as a “dip” rather than a “fondue.” Just saying…

Southwest Chile Cheese Fondue Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 6 to 8 entrees

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) petite cut diced tomatoes, well drained
  • 2 or 3 jalapeno or serrano chile peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups light cream or half-and-half
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and/or scallions

Directions

  • 1. In a large bowl, toss the Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese with the cornstarch to coat.
  • 2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chile peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture evaporates, about 5 minutes. Pour in the light cream and cook, stirring, until the sauce just reaches a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
  • 3. Break the cream cheese into small pieces and gradually stir into the hot chile-tomato sauce until melted and smooth. Gradually stir in the shredded cheese mixture, letting each addition melt before adding more. Stir in the lime juice, cumin, and cayenne. Taste, adding salt if needed.
  • 4. Transfer to a fondue pot, preferable ceramic or enameled cast iron. Sprinkle the cilantro and scallions over the top of the fondue and serve at once. Regulate the heat under the pot, if possible, so that the cheese fondue remains warm, not hot.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Robyn Rice-Foster] This fondue is another recipe that is an A+ on my list to prepare for future parties or as a main entree. I loved the Southwest flavors of all the cheeses in this recipe as well as using veggies, sausages, and breads to accompany the fondue and so did my guest.

  2. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Susan Rossmann] An excellent smooth and spicy fondue. As a bonus, the cold leftovers (of which there was only a bit) make a very tasty spread in themselves—sort of a spicy pimento and cheese. The minimum of two jalapenos specified will give a very mild fondue (not warm enough for Texas tastes), and those with any tolerance for heat will want to use more jalapeno and/or Serrano peppers. The results were excellent with either fresh or canned tomatoes. The colored flecks from the red peppers were attractive; two red peppers would not be amiss. This is a very thick fondue with lots of Southwest flavors, and only the sturdiest of tortilla chips will work well.

  3. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [John Velek] This is an easily made fondue and excellent flavors. Kind of a fun thing to do now and then.

  4. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Joan Osborne] We sometimes make fondues for supper and this was fantastic. I know I’ll be making this one again and again. We all loved it here.?I enjoyed making this Southwest chile fondue recipe and would make it again as stated, although I might add some salt or a more salty cheese.

  5. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Linda Pacchiano] This is a great fondue. I served it at a party and everyone loved it. The Southwest flavors come together exceptionally well, and the fondue pairs well with any of the dippers suggested—I served all of them! It holds well in the fondue pot, even for a couple of hours. With some other fondues similar to this, I have had them turn oily after they sat in the fondue pot for a while. This didn’t happen with this fondue. Everyone really loved the combination of southwestern flavors.

  6. jason says:

    I’m curious to know if this recipe would hold up to being refrigerated overnight and then reheated in the microwave. “Chili-con-queso,” as we call it in New Mexico, usually has to be made with Velveeta in order to stand the test of time without separating and getting lumpy. I also have the same problem with homemade mac-and-cheese…it never wants to reheat properly, even when made with a roux base. Would the corn starch coating for the cheese help this? Any ideas/comments out there?

    • Testers Choice says:

      Jason, I recall that when I tested this recipe back in August, I had some left over. There was no problem reheating it (gently) in the microwave. This is really a delicious version of Chile con Queso and I hope you try it!

    • Donna Rose, LC Recipe Tester says:

      Hi Jason,

      Another suggestion is to prep the dish the day before and assemble it the next day. You could safely make the tomato chile sauce through step two, cool it down, and refrigerate it, covered, overnight. Also cube the cream cheese, measure out the cheeses, cover, and into the fridge they go. Measure out your spices and have a lime at the ready. Chop cilantro and/or scallions and refrigerate them.

      The next day, heat the tomato sauce and then continue on to step three and finish off the recipe. This way you avoid practicing on guests and you give yourself the gift of relaxation. Later you can use leftovers to test reheating. Generally, when reheating in a microwave, I use lower power and heat for a longer time. High heat can toughen the proteins in the cheese into granite.

      I would think the cornstarch is used here to help cheese melt smoothly and to thicken the fondue a bit. Don’t think it comes into play with reheating.

      Hope this helps.

      Donna

      P.S. I love New Mexico. It truly is the Land of Enchantment.

    • Gina Hayden, LC Recipe Tester says:

      Jason, I usually reheat fondues and mac and cheese on low temperatures or over a double boiler with no issues. Regarding mac and cheese, you might actually be re-cooking rather than reheating. Try putting the casserole in a bed of water within a larger casserole dish. Don’t float the dish, just enough to prevent the mac and cheese from cooking too fast. Also cover the mac and cheese casserole with foil. Reheat in a preheated 300°F oven for about 25 minutes, 40 minutes if coming straight from the refrigerator. If you’re preparing the casserole the day before and serving the next day, I recommend prepping the day before without adding the cheese sauce until you bake it the day of, as Donna mentioned above.

      In my kitchen, we don’t use a roux for our mac and cheese. No flour, no cornstarch. It comes out creamy and cheesy when served and the day after. We often use three to five types of cheese. (Take your cholesterol medicine!) But as the children in the family say, “This mac and cheese is ridiculous!” It’s one of those family recipes that’s in our heads and not on paper but I’m happy to write it down over the weekend and share.

    • Jodi Calhoun, LC Recipe Tester says:

      Well, I haven’t had a chance to make this recipe yet…it’s on “the list.” But I’ve made other cheese fondues, warm cheese dips, and mac and cheeses that I reheated the next day. I find that letting the dish sit at room temperature for about an hour always helps. Then heat a small (1/2 cup) of the listed liquid (in this case half-and-half), pour the warm liquid into the cold dish, fold, and then reheat in a low (325°F) oven works pretty well.

    • Emily Olson, LC Recipe Tester says:

      Jason, I tested this recipe last summer as part of our testing group. The fondue was made in advance to take to a party, and when I arrived several hours later, I poured the fondue into a casserole dish. The dish was heated in the oven to warm it up and it held for a long time (or until it was gone!). I didn’t find a change in the consistency or texture.

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