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Traeger Smoked Queso

Cowboy caviar is having an internet moment right now, and I wanted to show one of my favorite things to make with it—smoked queso con carne. Just throw cowboy or Texas caviar in a grill pan with extra lean taco meat or chorizo, reduced fat cream cheese, Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, fire roasted tomatoes, and diced green chiles or pickled jalapeño, and you’re ready to rock.

taco meat, cowboy caviar, diced green chiles, fire roasted tomatoes, cream cheese, and colby jack cheese

This recipe makes a “lightened up” or slightly lower calorie queso but if that’s not your thing, go with full fat everything. Or like we all know, Velveeta and processed cheese products like Velveeta make the best cheese dip and queso.

Oh, and this Traeger queso isn’t pellet smoker exclusive. I made sure to include oven baking instructions in the notes section of the recipe card below.

smoked queso topped with guacamole, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese

Hey, I see you spying on that second tray of dip in the background. That’s our smoked cheese dip with chicken, and you should totally make it alongside this queso con carne.

What to Serve with Smoked Queso

If you’re in Texas, it’s hard to beat the convenience of H-E-B tortilla chips straight from the bakery. While any chip will work for consuming queso, a thin and crispy corn tortilla chip is the proper move.

Don’t have access to fresh tortilla chips? Make your own. Sticking with the lower calorie theme? Make baked tortilla chips with extra thin corn tortillas.

Yeah, yeah, chips and queso is the obvious choice. This recipe makes a beaucoup of smoked queso. So here’s a handful of creative ways to use leftover queso:

dipping a tortilla chip into smoked queso

More Tex-Mex Recipes for Traeger Grills

Okie doke, you’re ready to smoke. Drop any recipe questions you may have in the comments below and don’t forget to come back and leave a recipe review if you love this smoked queso dip.

smoked queso in a grill pan topped with guacamole, cotija cheese, and pico de gallo

Traeger Smoked Queso

Yield: 16 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A slightly lower calorie spin on smoked queso con carne pairing extra lean ground beef and reduced fat cream cheese with a blend of Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles, and cowboy caviar. It's the perfect Tex-Mex queso for your next hootenanny, regardless of calorie count.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Extra Lean Ground Beef*
  • 2 packets Taco Seasoning
  • 1 cup Water
  • 8 oz Colby-Monterey Jack Cheese (or 4 oz of each)
  • 8 oz Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
  • 15 oz can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 13 oz jar Cowboy Caviar**
  • 4 oz can Diced Green Chiles***
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 cup Milk (for a thinner queso)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Cotija Cheese or Queso Fresco, and Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your Traeger to 250ºF with the lid closed.
  2. Brown and fully cook the ground beef with the taco seasoning and water.
  3. Add the cooked taco meat to a large disposable grill pan, cast iron skillet, or baking dish that's safe to go in your smoker. Cut the cheese into smaller pieces and add to the pan along with the remaining ingredients, keeping each ingredient separate.
  4. Add the pan to the smoker and cook for 30-40 minutes until the cheese begins to melt. Stir everything together and once evenly mixed, smoke for an additional 15-20 minutes until the queso begins to brown around the edges.
  5. Garnish with chopped cilantro, guacamole, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese, if desired. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Notes

*You can swap the ground beef taco meat for other options like chorizo or the popular breakfast sausage. To keep things on the leaner side, consider using something like my low fat chicken chorizo or lean ground pork chorizo.

**I used Trader Joe's Cowboy Caviar, but a blend of black beans and corn or black bean salsa would work in a pinch. You can also use homemade cowboy caviar. Most use black-eyed peas, but I'd swap for pinto beans or go with black beans only for this smoked queso.

***You can swap these for diced pickled jalapeño peppers to give your queso an extra kick.

Pellet Grill Note: I used a Traeger Pro 575 with Traeger Signature pellets. You can increase the temperature to the 300ºF range to speed up the cook or cut the cheese into smaller pieces. A faster cook means less smoky flavor.

To make this queso in an oven, add everything to a baking dish and bake at 400ºF for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: about 3/4 cup (6 oz)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 175Total Fat: 9gCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 10g

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