This queso recipe gets its zip from classic kimchi. Spicy, cheesy, and creamy with a twist. This kimchi queso dip is the ultimate fusion dish with french fries or chips.
Kimchi and cheese is a trendy combination in Korea, and for a good reason; it goes together so well. In the late 70s, my family migrated over to the states from Korea. As a kid, I have vivid memories of my grandmothers' kitchen lined with jars of freshly-made kimchi.
I regularly make a few Korean dishes as an adult, but I usually reserve a traditional meal for long weekends. I often make things like my kimchi breakfast sandwich or my spicy pork bulgogi lettuce wraps to have a little taste of Korean food when I'm craving it. And I'll bookmark this kimchi queso recipe under "things I can make when my kimchi is ripe."
Kimchi queso recipe ingredients
Here's what you'll need to make this kimchi queso recipe:
- unsalted butter
- minced onions
- garlic cloves
- gochugaru Korean chili pepper.
- smoked paprika
- ground cumin
- cream cheese
- mild cheddar cheese
- Monterey Jack cheese
- fresh cilantro
- black pepper
See the kimchi queso recipe card for quantities.
How to make this kimchi queso dip
Start by melting the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Sweat the veggies with the seasonings, cooking until the vegetables are soft and the liquid evaporates.
Hint: If you like chunkier queso, you can add up to a cup of finely minced kimchi.
Next, add about a cup and a half of milk along with all of the cream cheese. The dairy products must be at room temperature, or you'll risk the kimchi queso seizing up.
Reduce the heat to the lowest setting once the cream cheese is smooth and fully incorporated. In general, cheese sauce is fussy, and if the heat is too high, the sauce will break, so it's essential to watch the heat.
When the cream cheese is ready, add shredded cheeses by the handful. I used about four cups total. Melt and combine the cheese into the sauce before adding the next batch. Once all the cheese is melted, remove the pan from the heat to avoid overcooking the kimchi queso.
Finally, add the remaining ½ cup of milk. Gently stir until the kimchi queso is smooth and creamy. At this point, the queso should be a pourable texture. You can add additional milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time, to adjust the consistency. I had to add a splash of milk to my cheese sauce.
Fold in freshly cracked black pepper, a sprinkle of gochugaru, chopped cilantro, or leftover scallions to garnish. Serve the kimchi queso dip in a warm crockpot or dolsot, a small ceramic pot like this one.
- Cheese - You can use any melting cheese you like. If you struggle with making cheese sauces, consider using a few ounces of American cheese. Processed cheese melts and is not as dependant on heat.
- Spice - Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder with a smoky, sweet flavor. You can sub the gochugaru with gochujang, easily found in most grocery stores or Amazon. Alternatively, you can use red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.
An enamel cast iron pot is one of my favorite types of cookware to use because it heats evenly, and you don't have to season it like regular cast iron pans. My two favorites are the Dansk saucepans and the Staub Dutch ovens.
Storing the kimchi queso
This cheese sauce should be eaten immediately while warm, but you can rehydrate it with some more milk the next day.
While cream cheese helps maintain creamy kimchi queso, cream cheese tends to get lumpy after a certain point. Most cheese sauces are constantly at risk for breaking, so keep the heat low when adding the cheese and keep the cheese sauce warm when serving.
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- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup minced onions
- 3 - 4 garlic cloves, grated
- One small jalapeño, minced (seeds removed if you don't want it spicy)
- ½ cup kimchi, finely chopped
- 3 - 5 scallions, finely chopped or shredded (set aside a few tablespoons for garnish)
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- One teaspoon gochugaru Korean chili pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 ½ cups milk, divided
- One 8-ounce block cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 7 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ - 2 cups)
- 7 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ - 2 cups)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Heat a large deep skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter and melt.
- Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, kimchi, scallions, and seasonings. Saute for about 10-15 minutes, until vegetables soften and the liquid evaporates.
- Add 1 ½ cups of milk and cream cheese. Stir continuously until cream cheese is melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest setting.
- Add shredded cheeses by the handful, stirring into the mixture until it has completely melted before adding the next.
- Once all the cheese is melted, remove the pan from the heat to avoid overcooking.
- Add the remaining ½ cup of milk. Gently stir until the kimchi queso is smooth and creamy. At this point, the queso should be a pourable texture. You can add additional milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time, to adjust the consistency.
- Fold in freshly cracked black pepper, chopped cilantro, and leftover scallions.
- Serve while hot.
If you like chunkier queso, you can add up to a cup of finely minced kimchi.
The dairy products must be at room temperature.
In general, cheese sauce is fussy, and if the heat is too high, the sauce will break, so it's essential to watch the heat.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 456mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 11g
Nutrition facts are for personal reference only as calories may vary on a case by case basis.