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Slow cooker chipotle beef queso dip is a smoky, spicy dip perfect for Game Day - or whenever! This hearty queso is made with real cheese and features chipotle peppers for spice and a ton of flavor.
While the weather seems to be as hot as ever, we're nevertheless getting closer to fall. You know what that means.
College football season!
That might seem like a silly thing for me to say, someone who went to a tiny Division III college with a less-than-exciting football team, but let me explain.
I didn't grow up watching college football and frankly didn't get why it was so big until I moved to the South. Making friends with people who eat, live, and breathe their alma mater's football teams was an eye-opening experience! I have a total blast at their homes for watch parties, and while I don't have a favorite team to root for, I've taken to adopting the underdog in each game as my own.
Obviously this means my favorite changes week by week, sometimes with me rooting for my friends' teams and sometimes not. But we're all competitive and that keeps it exciting, don't you think?
Since it's only fair to share hosting responsibilities, I've learned a few tricks for throwing a fun football party over the years. One of the main areas I like to focus on are food and drinks (no surprise there). While our menu varies, Dr Pepper® always makes an appearance.
With its rich and indulgent, one-of-a-kind flavor, Dr Pepper is the official drink of college football fans. Its twenty-three delicious flavors make it easy to see why it's been a part of college football for over twenty-five years. I like to serve Regular Dr Pepper along with Diet Dr Pepper to have something available for everyone.
While our crowd can make quick work of them, I'm secretly thrilled if we have cans leftover afterwards and savor them throughout the week.
Tips on throwing the perfect tailgate party
It's a ton of fun to go to a proper tailgate outside a stadium, but throwing a tailgate party at home is more my speed. For one, there are real deal bathrooms. 🙂 Here are a few tips and things to think about when you're entertaining.
Inexpensive and practical decorations
With the game on the big screen and everyone wearing their favorite jerseys, not much really needs to be done in the way of decorating to make it a fun and festive occasion.
Since I'm not a huge fan of holiday or event decorations that just sit there, I like to find useful ways to bump up the festiveness factor without adding clutter to the space (or breaking the bank).
Enter cocktail napkins! Publix offers them in lots of different colors so you can show your team pride even while chowing down. I like to alternate two colors and arrange them in a swirl pattern near the food. Easy as that.
Add in lighter food options
Trust me, everyone loves football food, but on the whole it doesn't tend to be lighter fare. Even a simple tray of finger food vegetables set near the more traditional tailgate options will be a welcome sight. Grab-and-go fruit like blueberries and apples have also been a hit. Just something to break up all that savory comfort food.
Plan your menu with time in mind
Will everyone need to eat right away, or will the food you serve hold up to sitting out for a food hours? If it'll be left out, will a change in temperature cause it to be less-than-ideal?
In my experience, people come and go at different times and usually like to munch throughout the game. Things like sandwiches and chips and salsa are usually fine, but there are a few temperature-sensitive but TOTALLY necessary Game Day foods like queso dip that are finicky.
My solution to that is the slow cooker! Not only can you cook a wide variety of foods in them, but the 'warm' function means that you can keep foods at just the right temperature from kickoff to the final whistle.
When it comes to queso, I'm partial to dips that have beef in them. And a hefty amount, at that. Each scoop of this slow cooker beef queso dip is guaranteed to have beef in it, making this a super satisfying and hearty appetizer.
This dip has a zing to it from two places: subtly from the pepper jack cheese and more boldly from the chipotle peppers in adobo. Found in the international foods aisle at my Publix, a small (seven ounce) can goes a long way. These marinated peppers bring a ton of smoky flavor and a good amount of heat.
Since the peppers are chopped finely and stirred in, you can start small and increase if you'd like more heat. I suggest beginning by adding one pepper and allowing the cheese to melt. Then take a taste to see if you'd like to add more.
This beef queso dip starts by browning beef in a skillet, then draining the fat. Draining the fat is important so the dip doesn't get too greasy. The recipe card below features my favorite ground meat tip, which is to season the beef after the fat is drained and simmer it in water until the water has reduced. This ensures the ground beef crumbles have a great, even flavor and aren't dried out.
After onions and garlic are cooked until golden, all of the ingredients get combined in a slow cooker. On the low setting, cook for an hour or two until the cheeses melt. Once creamy and heated to your liking, reduce the heat to the warm setting to keep it nice and dippable for your party. Just give it a stir as needed.
How to reheat leftover queso dip
This slow cooker chipotle beef queso dip makes a fair amount of servings. Scoop leftover queso dip into a small saucepan set over low heat. Drizzle in milk a small amount at a time as it heats to help it become creamy again.
I buy my Dr Pepper where I stock up on so many of my food and drink staples - at Publix. You just can't beat their selection and the crazy good savings! There you can find Dr Pepper in a range of sizes and varieties for your next tailgate party.
P.S. Scroll below the recipe card to see how you can enter a Dr Pepper sweepstakes for Publix shoppers!
Slow cooker chipotle beef queso dip recipe notes
- I used a 1.5-quart slow cooker here, which was the perfect size. It fits all of the ingredients without taking up too much room on the food table. You can use larger if you'd like.
- Start with one chipotle pepper in adobo and see if you'd like to add more prior to serving. They pack a punch spice-wise!
- Since the fat is drained from the beef it doesn't matter too much what percentage ground beef you buy. I usually buy 80/20 but use your preferred here.
Slow Cooker Chipotle Beef Queso Dip
- 0.75 lb ground beef (12 oz)
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion (about half of a small onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
- 1 ½ cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1 ½ cups shredded colby jack cheese
- 8 oz cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely chopped
- 10 tablespoon milk (I used 2%), divided
- Add beef to a skillet set over medium heat. Break up the beef into crumbles as it cooks until they are no longer pink. Drain the fat from the beef and place the skillet with the drained beef back on the stove.
- Sprinkle chili powder, ½ teaspoon of the salt, cumin, and pepper over the beef. Raise heat to medium-high and pour in the water. Simmer until the water has reduced and stir. Transfer beef to a bowl and wipe out skillet to use again.
- Add 1 teaspoon oil to the skillet set over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until onion has become golden. Remove skillet from heat.
- Add beef, onion/garlic mixture, drained tomatoes, shredded cheeses, cream cheese, chopped chipotle pepper, and ½ cup of milk to the insert of a 1.5- or 2-quart slow cooker. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours on low, then stir. Stir in an additional 2 tablespoon of milk and continue to cook until heated throughout and creamy to your liking. To serve, switch heat to 'warm' and stir occasionally.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
Dr Pepper is offering a sweepstakes with five (5) grand prize winners who will each receive two (2) tickets to the SEC Championship Game, plus a one-night hotel stay and airfare vouchers. PLUS there will be fifty (50) instant win prizes of $50 gift cards. For more information on a chance to win, find Dr Pepper at your local Publix store!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be U.S. legal resident residing in AL, FL, GA, NC, SC, TN or VA, 18 or older. For Official Rules/mail-in entry, print your name and residential address on a 3x5 card & mail to: 2018 Dr Pepper Southeast SEC Football Championships Sweepstakes, PO Box 6136, Dept. P, Clear Lake, MN 55319. Mark env. with entry or rules. Sponsor: Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., 5301 Legacy Drive, Plano, TX 75024. DR PEPPER IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF DR PEPPER/SEVEN UP, INC. ©2018 DR PEPPER/SEVEN UP, INC.