We're queso connoisseurs over here at Wide Open Eats. We've tasted our way through the best in Texas, and are still out here fighting the good fight for queso without Velveeta. We always take queso recipes with a grain of salt, literally, because most American interpretations of this dish stray from the traditional. Tex-Mex versions will use Monterey Jack cheese, but Mexican queso recipes will stick to asadero or chihuahua cheeses. Whatever the version or technique, though, only one thing matters: how good is it?
Recently, we thought to pit the Pioneer Woman's queso recipe against Joanna Gaines' queso recipe in Magnolia Table and no one was expecting the results. Before we get into who won, though, let's talk about these two very different recipes.
The Pioneer Woman's Queso vs. Joanna's Gaines' Queso
First, Joanna's recipe is made for a crowd in a large Dutch oven. Her recipe calls for 2 pounds of Velveeta cheese, melted with 3 cups of heavy cream, pinto beans, black beans, chopped fresh tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, and onion. Heavy cream in a queso recipe is a new one for me as liquid additions aren't typically used with Velveeta since the cheese melts smoothly as you cook it. The addition of beans to Joanna's queso is also unique. Because she calls this Party Queso in her cookbook, I'm wondering if the beans are added to stretch out the queso to feed a large family or crowd.
While it might be a little unconventional, this side dish queso is appealing and easy to whip together for a crowd. Sure it's got processed cheese, but this comfort food hits the spot every time. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro for a pop of color.
On the other hand, the Food Network star's recipe for queso dip also calls for 2 pounds of Velveeta in a large nonstick skillet, but also includes hot breakfast sausage, onion, diced tomatoes, green chiles, and jalapeños. She calls for Ro-tel in addition to the 2 cans of chopped green chiles, which makes this recipe more pantry-friendly than Jojo's fresher version with its cilantro and tomatoes. You could use fresh green chiles, of course, but chopped green chilies just save time. The addition of meat makes this recipe, in true Pioneer Woman style, cowboy friendly and the fairly standard flavors mean this is essentially a basic cheese dip.
Both of these dips are made on the stovetop, however, they can be kept warm in a crockpot or slow cooker. Make sure the dip is kept on "warm" rather than low, otherwise the cheese may split and make a mess no one wants to clean up.
I made both recipes side-by-side and gathered a few tasters to compare and contrast both of the recipes. Some tasters preferred Ree's for the sole reason of it containing meat while I personally liked Jo's because of how fresh it tasted. It does take longer to prep, however, it is well worth it and cooks up a party amount of dip.
It seems like when it comes to easy recipes, Drummond's is perfect for whipping up on a game day around the house, like the Super Bowl, or for a last-minute appetizer. Gaines' recipe requires more fresh ingredients and finely diced vegetables, which isn't great when you're in a rush or don't feel like chopping.
Are you ready to make your own queso? We have a few recipes we love, from our Queso Fundido to Chile Con Queso. Learn more about authentic queso, make our own Authentic White Queso recipe this weekend!
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