Queso Fundido, sometimes called Queso Flameado, is one of my favorite appetizers to order at a restaurant. Gooey warm cheese studded with roasted peppers and/or crumbled chorizo, self-shoveled inside fresh tortillas – it just doesn’t get any better.
Not to be confused with chili con queso, this cheese dish is less of a dip, thicker, and typically served in a hot, cast-iron pan. Originally prepared as a campfire dish in northern Mexico, it quickly caught on throughout the Southwest region of the United States both for its rich flavors and for its wow factor – as many restaurants choose to flambe it tableside.
I will note that I did not attempt to set this on fire before serving but I promise, this recipe is just as good served directly out of the oven. Enjoy with a group of friends for an appetizer (or just yourself as a main course like I did!)
Southwest Queso Fundido
Prep Time: 45 min
Makes: 4 as an appetizer / 2 as a meal
- 1 FULL CLOVE GARLIC (OPTIONAL)
- 2 POBLANO PEPPERS
- 2 CUPS, (APPROX. 12 OZ WHEN WHOLE) QUESO FRESCO CHEESE
- 2 CUPS (APPROX.. 12 OZ. WHEN WHOLE) GRUYERE CHEESE
- ½ TSP PAPRIKA
- 6 TORTILLAS, FLOUR OR CORN (FOR SERVING)
- Roast the peppers by placing whole peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes per side. Flip every 5 minutes for a total of about 15 minutes until pepper skins are charred. Then place whole peppers in a brown paper bag and fold to close in warm air. Leave in the closed paper bag for 15 minutes.
- While the peppers are roasting, prepare the cast iron skillet and cheeses. Rub cast iron with a garlic clove for extra flavor, if desired. Shred both kinds of cheese for a total of 4 cups shredded cheese, mix cheeses together, and set aside.
- Turn the oven from broil to bake. Preheat to 350 degrees
- After slightly cooled and 15 minutes “steaming” in the bag, remove peppers and remove their skins. They should be easy to peel off with hands. Cut peppers into medium-thin strips
- Assemble cast iron skillet: Put ½ the cheese mixture (2 cups total) on the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle with ½ the paprika (1/4 tsp) and ½ the amount of pepper strips. Repeat for the second layer, finishing cheese, paprika, and peppers
- Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until melted and golden brown. Serve immediately with a side of warm tortillas
- There are several combinations of cheese you can use in this recipe. The only real rule is to ensure they are easily meltable cheeses. I chose queso Fresco as it is a traditional Mexican cheese that is very mild, and the more flavorful Gruyere as they would blend nicely. Other combinations include cheddar, mozzarella, Oaxaca, Monterrey Jack, or Chihuahua (if you can find it).
- I did not add salt as most cheeses are salty enough on their own. Taste the cheese mixture before you put it in the oven to decide if you want to add salt to the recipe.
- You can add chorizo to this to make it even more hearty. Remove from the casing, cook in cast iron pan, drain drippings then proceed with laying the cheeses and pepper (or remove the pepper altogether and just use the chorizo). I ate this alongside some Carnitas (pulled pork) for extra protein and pickled onions for an extra flavor punch.
About Chef Gina Veneziano
Chef Gina has spent a lifetime in food – from the butcher shop to food trucks and catering kitchens to innovation kitchens. She prides herself in being the only person to successfully recreate her grandmother’s famous meatballs. You can usually catch her, apron on, and a glass of prosecco in hand – cheers!