Austin Diner-Style Queso


Serves 6–8
Reprinted with permission from “Queso!” by Lisa Fain, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography by Aubrie Pick.


Austin Diner-Style Queso


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup(s) yellow onion, diced
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup(s) whole milk
  • 1 cup(s) water
  • 1 pound(s) white or yellow American cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
  • Guacamole, for topping
  • Pico de gallo, for topping
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Austin Diner-Style Queso Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the onion and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Anaheims and cook for 30 seconds longer.
  3. Whisk together the cornstarch, milk and water until well combined, then pour into the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Add the cheese, turn down the heat to low, and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Stir in the cilantro, cumin, cayenne and salt, then taste and adjust the seasonings.
  5. Transfer the queso to a serving bowl or a chafing dish over a flame. Spoon guacamole and pico de gallo into the center of the queso. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Recipe notes

In Richard Linklater’s film “Boyhood,” the protagonist finds himself in an Austin diner with his girlfriend late one night. They are being philosophical, and when she asks what they are doing there at three o’clock in the morning, he replies, “You know what we’re doing here? Queso!” In Austin, inviting places such as Kerbey Lane Cafe and Magnolia Cafe have long been popular spots for people to get their queso fix in the darker hours. This recipe is not specific to any particular place, but will remind you of late nights and good friends.

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