National Queso Day Date in the current year: September 20, 2024

National Queso Day If you’re a fan of Tex-Mex cuisine, you absolutely should celebrate National Queso Day on September 20. This unofficial food day was created in honor of a delicious dish that consists of melted cheese and chili peppers.

Queso, which literally translates from Spanish as cheese, is short for chile con queso or chili con queso (“chili with cheese”). It is a melted cheese dish that originated in the Mexican state of Chihuahua and became a staple in Tex Mex and Southwestern cuisine.

Chile con queso probably originated as a version of chile flameado, also known as choriqueso or queso fundido. Queso flameado is a dish consisting of hot melted cheese and a spicy meat sauce made from chorizo (pork sausage), onions, tomatoes, chili and spices. The melted cheese and meat sauce are prepared separately, combined in a heat-proof dish just before serving, and often flambéed tableside using brandy, rum, or tequila. Even when not flambéed, chile flameado is supposed to be served bubbling hot.

Although chile con queso is sometimes confused with chile flameado, it is a different dish. It is a smooth, creamy dip sauce consisting of three principal ingredients: melted cheese or a blend of cheeses, cream, and jalapeño peppers. Chile con queso can be made with various cheeses including processed cheese such as Velveeta, Chihuahua cheese (queso Chihuahua), cream cheese, Monterey Jack, and Pepper Jack.

Chile con queso is served warm, usually with tortilla chips, pita chips, or tortillas. It can be eaten as an appetizer or side dish. In many Tex-Mex restaurants, chile con queso can be served with additional ingredients such as black beans, ground pork or beef, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Queso is also often used as a condiment in a variety of Tex-Mex dishes such as enchiladas, fajitas, migas, tacos, and quesadillas.

The origin of National Queso Day is unclear, but don’t let it stop you from celebrating. On September 20, go out to your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant and share a bowl of queso with your friends or try making your own queso at home.

Chile con queso is actually pretty easy to make. Start with finely dicing a small onion and a large jalapeño pepper. Melt 3 tbsp unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 4 pressed garlic cloves, cook for 30 seconds. Add 3 tbsp flour and cook for 1 more minute, stirring continuously.

Add 2 cups half & half, whisk until smooth, bring to a simmer, and cook for a few minutes to let the mixture thicken. Turn the heat down to a minimum and gradually add 1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese and 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, whisking continuously. When all cheese is melted and incorporated, add salt and seasonings to taste. Transfer to a bowl and serve while hot.

To make things more exciting, you can celebrate National Queso Day by trying queso from several local restaurants and ranking them from best to worst, throwing a chips and dip party, or holding a cook-off and experimenting with various queso recipes. And don’t forget to snap a photo of your queso and share it on social media with the hashtag #NationalQuesoDay to spread the word about the holiday. 

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National Queso Day, food days, unofficial holidays, observances in the US, Tex-Mex cuisine, chile con queso