Melty Queso Dip - Modernist Cuisine

Melty Queso Dip

Recipe • April 30, 2013

When I brought this dip to a party, explaining that it was actually made from real pepper jack cheese, I was met with baffled looks. “What else is in it? Butter? Cream?” my friends asked. I smiled and told them it really was just cheese, plus a little water and sodium citrate. That means there is no added fat to impair the flavor or coat your mouth when you take a bite. That pure taste of pepper jack cheese makes it the best queso around.

Judy Oldfield-Wilson, Online Writer


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Pepper jack cheese, sodium citrate, and beer are the only ingredients in this recipe.

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Add the grated cheese a little at a time.

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Use a wire wisk or immersion blender to incorporate the cheese.

Tips & Substitutions

Step 1
  • Sodium citrate is a sodium salt of citric acid, which is found naturally in citrus fruits.
  • You cannot substitute citric acid for sodium citrate in this recipe.
  • Sodium citrate allows the proteins in the cheese sauce to become more soluble while lowering the pH of the sauce, which creates a smooth emulsion without curdling. Though citric acid will also lower the pH, it will not work on proteins as sodium citrate does. Using citric acid will result in a soupy or grainy texture instead of a silky emulsion.
  • Both sodium citrate and citric acid are referred to as “sour salt” and can be found in the kosher section of grocery stores. They are, however, different, so be sure to check the label in order to select the right one.
  • You can also find various brands of sodium citrate online, such as WillPowder and Artistré, among others.
  • Whisk the sodium citrate into the water or beer until it’s fully dissolved before bringing the mixture to a simmer.
Step 2
  • For this dish, we prefer pepper jack cheese, but you can use any kind of cheese, or a combination of cheeses.
  • Add the cheese to the simmering liquid slowly, about one spoonful at a time.
  • We find that using an immersion blender greatly helps in emulsifying the cheese, but you can also use a wire whisk.
  • If the emulsion breaks, bring the mixture to a full boil and then continue processing it with the immersion blender. The mixture should pull together. If this fails, add a spoonful of heavy cream and try again.
  • The cheese will thicken slightly as it cools.
  • The cheese keeps well; you can store it up to one week when refrigerated, or up to two months when frozen.
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