No disrespect to salsa, but queso will always be our first choice when there’s tortilla chips that desperately need dunking. The warm, creamy dip is a star at any function where party-style snacks are served, especially when a spicy, homemade variety is made available. You don’t have to cook from scratch to get a great queso, however. Given the popularity of the dip, plenty of companies have stepped up to make refrigerated and shelf stable varieties of the delicious, cheesy sauce. To aid your next tailgate or potluck party, we decided to test out five popular brands of store-bought queso. Here’s our rankings, from best to worst.
Best Refrigerated Queso
2 to Tango Queso Cheese Dip ($3.49 for 12 oz.)
Yes, this brand doesn’t give you quite as much queso as some of the other varieties we sampled. But if you want restaurant-quality cheese dip, this is the tub you’ll want to grab. Some of our tasters felt like this queso could have used a bit more spice, but all of us immediately went in for seconds. It says something that of all the queso we sampled, this was the one that was finished off almost immediately.
Cacique MIld Mexican-style Queso Blanco Dip ($4.99 for 16 oz.)
Cacique’s texture is comparable to 2 to Tango’s, and their spice level is arguably more desirable than our top pick’s. But this queso is slightly sweet. Why? We’re not sure. It doesn’t ruin the queso, but it definitely knocks a few points off its flavor score.
Best Shelf-Stable Queso
Signature Select’s Salsa Con Queso ($4.09 for 15 oz.)
Once again, Safeway proves that sometimes the generic is your best bet. This queso is perfect for those who love mild dips, since it doesn’t have much heat, but it does have a decent creamy consistency for a shelf-stable brand. For a queso that will make everyone happen, this is the jar to grab.
Tostitos Salsa Con Queso in Medium ($4.39 for 15 oz.)
Tostitos’ take on queso is definitely spicier than Safeway’s. And overall, it’s not a bad pick. But if you’re particularly sensitive to the taste of fake cheese, then this might be the brand to skip. The Velveeta-like flavor isn’t the only one present, but it definitely steals the show.
Not Our Favorite
Taco Bell Medium Salsa Con Queso Cheese Dip ($4.59 for 15 oz.)
We feel like we need to have a talk with Taco Bell, because we’re not sure what happened here. In store, their cheese sauce is amazing. Their fiesta potatoes are a comfort food worth coveting. But in a jar, their cheese is—we hate to say—distinctly frothy. It’s also unpleasantly thick, with a consistency somewhere between sour cream and peanut butter. It’s definitely not the delicious, fast food-flavor infused dip we were hoping for. Safe to say, even if you’re the biggest Bell fan, you can pass on this variety.