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Recipe Friday: Ready? Set? Queso!

The foodservice landscape continues shifting, but one menu item is remaining consistent no matter the changes: queso.
“Not only are we seeing increased demand for our Queso Bravo® Cheese Dip and Extra Melt® Cheese Sauces to create queso dishes,” said Chef Daniel "Billy" Kalil, commercial foodservice product specialist with Land O’Lakes. “We are also hearing from operators that queso seems to fill the gap for whatever new challenge comes their way. Not to mention, it can inspire renewed creativity in your kitchen.”

Now, you may be asking yourself, “OK so what makes queso a food trend?”

Queso is customizable!

According to Datassential Menu Trends research, queso is one of the fastest growing appetizers on the menu, and patrons are hankering for the signature, craveable spin operators are creating. The same Datassential research found that more than half of all consumers look forward to ordering signature appetizers at specific restaurants they visit, encouraging operators to add flex creativity and serve up another delicious appetizer.
“Give your customers something to crave that speaks to your region,” said Chef Kalil. “With powerhouse ingredients like Extra Melt® cheese sauces as your base, you are able to personalize to your heart’s content without risk of breaking your sauce.”

Queso is convenient!

In the face of continued staffing challenges throughout the year, queso can be a reliable dish that can hold its flavor and texture well while also serving as a base for an array of dishes, meaning less maintenance for a tighter workforce.
“When you may be short staffed yet still don’t want to cut corners, a high-performing cheese sauce can save time, money and headaches,” Kalil added. “A premium queso can maintain its flavor and texture throughout the shift, all while meeting guests’ demands for a craveable appetizer. That very same sauce can also be used as a blank canvas for multiple dishes, from a traditional dip to a burger topping to, say a ‘Hatch Chile con Queso,’ blending two of the hottest menu trends.”

Queso is consistent!

Operators remain uncertain whether delivery, carry-out or in-house dining will dominate in 2022. Luckily, queso is ideal for all dining formats. A high-quality queso sauce can help operators maintain a consistent and delicious signature dish no matter how it’s served.
“In addition, queso crosses over multiple dayparts, starting the day as a topping on a delicious breakfast bowl or filling nighttime cravings topping nachos,” Kalil concluded. 

There you have it: customizable, convenient, consistent and, of course, delicious. Queso is clear to be more than just a trend for 2022, but a sure customer favorite. 

Check out these recipes from Land On'Lakes to add a little queso to your Cinco de Mayo celebrations next week! 

Queso Fundido

Yield: 70


2 lbs ground chorizo
1 lb (3 cups) white or yellow onions, chopped
10 oz (2 cups) jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely chopped
¾ oz (1 ½ T) finely chopped fresh garlic
1 5-lb pouch Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce
1 lb (4 cups) Land O Lakes® Feather Shredded Monterey Jack
¼ tsp or as desired ground red pepper (cayenne)


1.    Cook chorizo in large sauté pan. Remove chorizo with slotted spoon, leaving drippings.
2.    Add onions and jalapeños; sauté over high heat until onions begin to soften and brown. Reduce heat to low; add garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant.
3.    Return chorizo to pan. Add Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce and Shredded Monterey Jack. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until shreds are melted. Stir in cayenne. Serve warm, garnished with desired toppings.

Recipe tips: Garnish with as many toppings as desired—diced tomato and/or avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, sliced pickled jalapeño and sliced radishes make a colorful, customizable presentation.

Aloha Queso

Yield: 50


1 5-lb pouch Land O Lakes® Queso Bravo® Cheese Dip with Jalapeños and Red Peppers, Yellow
20 oz (3 cups) pineapple tidbits, drained
5 oz (1 cup) chopped cooked bacon


1.    Combine all ingredients in large saucepan; heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until temperature reaches 165°F. Hold hot until service.
2.    If serving for take-out, place queso in heat-safe to-go container.

Recipe Tips

  • Serve alongside plaintain chips for dipping.
  • This sauce works well drizzled over grilled chicken.
  • Use this sauce to top a bowl composed of chicken, sautéed bell peppers, cooked quinoa or rice and sliced green onions.

Ranch Queso

Yield: 54


1 5-lb pouch Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce
1 ¼ cups ranch dressing mix
10 oz (1 ¼ cups) sour cream
9 oz caramelized onions, diced


1.    Heat Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce using desired method to 165°F. Stir in all remaining ingredients.
2.    Hold hot until service.

Recipe tip: Ranch Queso is delicious on fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, served with chips...really on anything!

Reuben Queso

Yield: 108


1 5-lb pouch Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce
36 oz (7 cups) corned beef, diced ¼ inch
27 oz (4 ½ cups) sauerkraut, drained, squeezed dry
27 oz (3 cups) roasted red peppers, dried well, diced 1/4 inch
2 T caraway seeds, toasted


1.    Heat Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce using desired method to 165°F. Stir in all remaining ingredients except green onions.
2.    Hold hot until service.
3.    Garnish with green onions to serve. Serve with potato chips, pretzels or other salty, crunchy dipper.

Al Pastor Queso

Yield: 8


24 oz (2 ½ cups) Land O Lakes® Queso Bravo® Cheese Dip with Jalapeños and Red Peppers, Yellow
8 oz cooked pulled chicken or pork
3 ½ oz (6 T crushed pineapple, well drained
½ T achiote y cilantro seasoning


1.    Heat Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce in double boiler to 165°F; stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to 140°F. Hold hot or chilled until service.

Sweet & Savory Apple Cheese Sauce

Yield: 7


8 oz Granny Smith apples, peeled
2 oz (¼ cup) raisin
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
18 oz (2 cups) Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce
1 ½ T firmly packed brown sugar


1.    Small-dice (1/8") apples; store in acidic water until needed. Soak raisins in hot water (< 180°F) at least 10 minutes; drain well.
2.    Combine cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl until well mixed.
3.    Heat Extra Melt® Monterey Jack Cheese Sauce in double boiler to 165°F. Add spices, brown sugar, drained raisins and apples. Heat to 140°F. Hold hot or chilled until service.

Recipe tip: Serve with assorted cookies and apple and pear slices for dipping

Chorizo & Chipotle Queso

Yield: 10


1 5-lb pouch Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Yellow Cheese Sauce
1 lb fresh ground chorizo
12 oz(2 cups) onions, chopped
¼ cup canned chipotle peppers in adobo, puréed
1 oz fresh cilantro, chopped


1.    Heat Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce according to manufacturer's instruction.
2.    Sauté chorizo in medium pan until fully cooked; drain, reserving small amount of grease in pan. Chop chorizo into small pieces.
3.    Add onions; cook, stirring, until translucent.
4.    Whisk together cheese sauce, chorizo, onions and chipotle peppers in medium saucepan. Heat to 165°F. Stir in cilantro. Hold warm until service.

Bonus Recipes! 

What's Cinco de Mayo without tacos? Here the California Milk Advisory Board shares a fun party idea from Ericka Sanchez–An Epic Taco Party Table. 

This stunning spread is sure to appeal to almost every guest and taste, and includes Carne Asada Tacos, Chicken Street Tacos, Real California Chipotle Crema and Potato Taquitos.

Top left to right: Cheese Taquitos [use Potato Taquito recipe, replacing potato/milk/bouillon with shredded cheese in preparation]– Salsa verde– Real California Cotija cheese (crumbled)– Pico de gallo– Potato Taquitos (plated)– Real California Queso Fresco (crumbled)– Tequila tray with chili saltMiddle left to right:– Carne Asada Tacos– Real California Queso Fresco (crumbled)– Chicken Street Tacos– Real California Crema– Real California Chipotle Crema– Carnitas Tacos (hard shell)Bottom left to right:– Potato Taquitos– Real California Cotija cheese (crumbled)– Real California Crema– Potato Taquitos (tray)– Mexican Rice– Carne Asada Tacos– Guacamole. Recipes and image created by Ericka Sanchez /@nibblesnfeasts for the CMAB

The Epic Taco Party Table is perfect for busy calendars loaded with springtime celebrations with family and friends, from Mother’s Day to graduation parties.

Potato Taquitos


3 ea. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
½ cup Real California Milk whole milk
1 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon
1 cup vegetable oil
12 ea. large corn tortillas, warmed


Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Real California Milk Crema Mexicana or Crema Agria
Real California Milk Queso Fresco, crumbled
Pico de Gallo or Salsa


  1. Combine potatoes and enough water to cover in a large saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes in the saucepan with a potato masher. Return to low heat, add milk and bouillon and stir until mixture thickens; approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While oil heats up, scoop 2 tablespoons potato mixture in each tortilla and roll. Use toothpicks to close if necessary.
  4. Place taquitos 2-3 at a time in hot oil, using metal tongs turn frequently to fry evenly until golden; approximately 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.

To serve

Place 2-3 taquitos on a serving plate, top with lettuce, crema, queso fresco and pico de gallo (or salsa).

Carne Asada Street Tacos


2 lbs skirt steak (or flank steak)
2 T olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
24 ea. corn tortillas, street size (or 12 if you’re using single tortilla)


Real California Milk Queso Fresco, crumbled
Real California Milk Cotija Cheese, crumbled
Real California Milk Crema Mexicana
Pico de Gallo
Lime Juice


  1. Place meat in a large freezer bag. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add mixture to bag with meat, seal and shake, pressing meat with fingers marinate evenly. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add steak and cook 6-7 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and transfer to a large cutting board. Let cooked meat rest for 8-10 minutes. Chop into bite-sized pieces and keep warm.
  4. Warm tortillas on a comal or skillet, add 2 tablespoons carne asada to 2 stacked tortillas (optional, you can also use 1 tortilla), arrange on a serving plate and repeat until all carne asada has been used. Keep warm.
  5. Top tacos with California Queso Fresco, Cotija, Crema, pico de gallo or salsa and a squeeze of lime. Serve.

Carnitas Tostadas


2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 ½ lbs boneless pork loin, cut in 2-inch pieces
2 ea. oranges, halved
1 ea. lime, halved
1 cup water
6 ea. baked tostadas
1 ½ cups mashed avocado
2 ea. Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 radishes, sliced
½ cup red onion slices
Cilantro for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Pickled jalapeño and carrots for serving


  1. Combine garlic salt, cumin, oregano, sugar, paprika and chili powder in a small bowl.
  2. On a working surface or cutting board, season pork loin pieces with half the seasoning mixture.
  3. Place pieces of seasoned pork loin in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. Squeeze lemon juice and orange juice over pork loin pieces. Add the squeezed lemon halves, and 2 squeezed orange halves to the Instant Pot, add water and remaining season mix.
  4. Press Pressure Cook button and set the time for 40 minutes on high pressure.
  5. After pressure cooking for 40 minutes, allow for 30 minutes for natural pressure release. After 30 minutes of natural pressure release, you can release any remaining pressure by setting the knob to venting. Open Instant Pot and carefully remove pork loin pieces and place on a large plate to cool.
  6. Shred pork loin pieces using two forks.

To serve

Spread ¼ cup avocado on each tostada, top with carnitas, tomato, onion, radishes and cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pickled jalapeños on the side.

Chicken Street Tacos


2 ea. boneless/skinless chicken breasts, chop in bite size pieces
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 T olive oil
½ cup onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 Roma tomato, finely chopped
24 corn tortillas, street size (or 12 if using single tortilla)


Real California Milk Queso Fresco
Real California Milk Crema Mexicana
Pico de gallo
Lime juice


  1. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic, cook for 1 minute or until onion begins to soften. Add chicken and tomato, stir frequently until chicken is cooked through; approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Warm tortillas on a comal or skillet, add 2 tablespoons chicken filling to 2 stacked tortillas (optional, you can also use 1 tortilla), arrange on a serving plate and repeat until all filling has been used. Keep warm.
  4. Top tacos with California Queso Fresco and Crema, pico de gallo or salsa and a squeeze of lime. Serve.

Chipotle Crema


1 cup Real California Milk Crema Mexicana
2 (canned) chipotle peppers in adobo, seeds removed
1 garlic clove
1 T lime juice
Salt to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Adjust salt if necessary.
  2. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Mexican Rice


2 cups long-grain rice
7 cups water, divided
1 large Roma tomato (or 2 small)
¼ piece onion (approximately 1/3 cup.  Do not chop)
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 T canola oil
½ tsp chicken flavor bouillon
cilantro springs for garnish


  1. In a medium bowl, soak rice in 3 cups water for 20 minutes. While the rice soaks, grate tomato, onion and garlic clove into a large bowl. Drain rice, discard water and set rice aside. Heat remaining 4 cups of water. Do not boil.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add rice and stir until the rice begins to brown.  Immediately add grated tomato/onion/garlic mixture and stir. Saute, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, add hot water and bouillon, stir, cover and lower heat to medium low.
  3. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.

Carne Asada Tacos with Strawberry Pico de Gallo

Ingredients for Carne Asada Tacos

¼ cup olive oil
2 ea. limes, juiced
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb flank steak
8 corn tortillas, warmed (16 tortillas if using 2 per taco)

Ingredients for Strawberry Pico de Gallo

4 ea. large strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 ea. Roma tomato, chopped
¼ white onion, chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 ea. large jalapeño, sliced
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste


Real California Cotija Cheese, cubed
1 ea. avocado, chopped into cubes
Limes for juicing


  1. Prepare the Steak: Whisk together oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Place steak in a plastic bag and pour in marinade; seal. Shake bag, making sure marinade coats meat completely. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak and cook for 6-8 minutes on each side. Remove the steak and place on a cutting board; let rest for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Slice steak against the grain into strips using a sharp knife.
  5. Prepare the Pico de Gallo: Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Assemble Tacos: Place 3-4 beef strips on a corn tortilla (or 2 tortillas if using 2 per taco), top with strawberry pico de gallo, Real California Cotija Cheese, avocado cubes, and a squeeze of lime juice. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Creamy California Guacamole


1 package (8 oz) Real California cream cheese, softened
2 cups (16 Ounces) Real California nonfat plain yogurt, drained
4 ea. whole ripe medium avocados peeled, seeded and mashed
1 cup salsa verde (green chile salsa)
2-3 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
1 tsp salt


  1. In a food processor or a medium mixing bowl using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese and yogurt until smooth. Add mashed avocados, salsa and 2 teaspoons juice to cream cheese mixture and combine well.
  2. Season to taste with salt and additional lemon or lime juice.

To Assemble the Epic Taco Party Table

Assemble tacos, taquitos, toppings and sides on a variety of plate and platters. To protect the safety of guests, provide adequate tongs and serving pieces and encourage guests to use individual plates or vessels.


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