This Island Queso Cheese Dip recipe adds a tropical twist to classic queso. Sweet pineapple and colorful peppers are combined with creamy cheese and tangy jalapenos to create a uniquely flavorful, snackable, dip-able, drizzle-able queso cheese dip that everyone will love!
This recipe has been sitting in my personal repertoire since 2012 when I was planning a beachy, island-themed birthday gathering for a co-worker. I had a “vision” in my mind for something a bit out of the ordinary. It had to be colorful and have some kind of a tropical twist to match the party theme. It also had to be quick and easy… Something that would go well with a variety of pot luck pairings, and something that would last all day in my snack-sized crock pot.
I stumbled across a recipe that seemed to fit the bill, and crossed my fingers as I began “tropical-izing” it.
To my surprise, it was a huge hit! Even given the amount that this recipe makes (about 5 cups), it was all gone in just over an hour. I had several requests for the recipe that day, and several more followed in the coming weeks. My queso cheese dip became known as ‘Island Queso Cheese Dip’ and was requested for every pot luck after that.
The recipe has changed over the years to include more pineapple (because, you can never have too much pineapple in my opinion!), and more colorful peppers. The red cracked pepper was eventually added because we like a little heat with our sweet, and it brought the perfect balance to this wonderfully addictive queso cheese dip!
There are a million queso cheese dip recipes out there… Many call for heavy cream, butter, etc., and there are a lot of strong opinions about what kinds of cheeses are needed for an authentic queso cheese dip. This recipe has no illusions of being “authentic,” but it’s definitely unique!
It’s the kind of thing that, when you first taste it, you immediately wonder what the “twist” in flavors is. And then you take another bite… and another. And then you wonder where that twist has been all your life!
As good as this Island Queso Cheese Dip is with tortilla chips, one of our other favorite way to enjoy it is as a sauce with grilled chicken, pineapple and veggies!
I marinate boneless, skinless chicken breasts for an hour or two in about 1/3 cup pineapple juice (from a can of pineapple rings), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. In a separate bowl, also marinate fresh jalapeños, red onions and sweet mini peppers in the same combination (with whatever pineapple juice is left), and add the pineapple rings to the bowl. Then, grill up the chicken and veggies, and serve over brown rice with plenty of Island Queso Cheese Dip and fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley. It’s SO good!
The Island Queso Cheese Dip (or Sauce!) recipe may sound a little odd, but trust me… It works! Don’t be tempted to use other kinds of cheese here. The mixture will look a little clumpy and watery at first, but heat, mix, and repeat – per the instructions – until it’s smooth and fabulous. And then, as always…
- 1¼ pounds white American cheese, chopped
- ¾ cup crushed pineapple, drained – juice reserved (I used Dole Pineapple in 100% pineapple juice)
- ⅓ cup pickled jalapenos, finely-chopped (I used Mezzeta deli-sliced tamed jalapeno peppers)
- ⅓ cup pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno juice
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- ⅓ cup each, red, yellow and orange sweet mini peppers (2 – 3 of each color), finely-chopped
- Crushed red pepper flakes – a pinch or two, or more, to taste (optional)
- *Reserve some of the chopped jalapenos and sweet peppers for garnish.
- In a glass, microwave safe bowl with a six cup or more capacity, add all of the ingredients and stir a bit to combine.
- Microwave on high for two minutes, and then stir well. (Mixture will seem watery at first, but it will all melt/mix together.)
- Microwave for another minute, and stir well again. Repeat microwaving one minute and mixing well two or three more times until all cheese is completely melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Only 5 – 7 minutes of microwave time is needed in total, but make sure to heat and mix in stages as suggested rather than heating all at once.
- To Serve: Garnish with reserved chopped jalapenos and sweet peppers, and an extra pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional). Island Queso Cheese Dip will thicken as it cools. Use a covered 5+ cup crock pot to keep warm for an extended period of serving time.
- Serve with a variety of tortilla chips, crackers and fresh veggies. Drizzle over nachos, or add this queso dip as a sauce on fish, chicken or pork tacos, burritos, and sliders.
- Refrigerate any leftovers in a tightly covered container. Microwave for just a minute or two to reheat.
*Make sure to use pineapple with 100% pineapple juice – not heavy syrup – so your queso isn’t overly sweet.
*Use a rubber spatula or metal whisk
*Recipe adapted from Seeded at the Table.
Let me know if you make this Island Queso Cheese Dip recipe!
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