My Mom’s Retro 2-Ingredient Appetizer Is a Family Favorite

March 20, 2024

My dad graduated from Ohio State University a million years ago, which means that Sunday afternoons in the fall and into the winter are all about football. To this day, I avoid their family room on game day so I don’t have to hear my otherwise civil parents shouting at a TV screen about the “#@$% idiot ref.” 

One thing would sweeten such occasions for me when I was younger, though—I may be ambivalent about football, but I am eternally devoted to chips and dip. Mom would make a big batch of my family’s favorite dip whenever there was an OSU game on, and I’d brave my brother and dad’s impassioned outbursts to make a late lunch and early dinner of that hot, rich, creamy dip. 

The Secret to This Classic Dip 

Ready? It’s a can of Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles plus a block of Velveeta. My mom is an amazing cook, so it’s amusing that this virtually effortless dip is what she’s known for. She just knows a good thing when she sees it.

If you know about this dip, you know that my mom didn’t invent it. She doesn’t even remember where she first came across it, but it’s been a staple Ro*Tel recipe for years (on their site they call it “”). My mom’s pantry in the basement is jammed with canned goods and shelf-stable foods, including a block of Velveeta and giant bags of tortilla chips at all times. She still like she has growing kids at home. But that means an impromptu batch of this cheesy dip is always only moments away.

The best thing about this dip is how everyone scarfs it down every single time it appears. When I was a teenager, my friends would often wind up at my house after school. I was proud that we were the designated snack house. If we found the Ro*Tel and Velveeta dip in the fridge, we would heat it and polish it off.

Once, my mom came home from work to find all of my friends gathered in the kitchen, scooping up dip with chips, and I wasn’t even there. They had simply converged at our house unannounced, out of habit. My goal as an adult is to become the designated house for my teenage daughter’s friends to show up at for any reason, at any time. A great dip can set that in motion.

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

You Have To Use Velveeta

The second-best thing about this dip is how easy it is to make on a whim, all thanks to Velveeta. Plus it’s best made in the microwave, right in the dish you serve it from.

Velveeta isn’t one of my go-to foods, but it’s what makes this dip so good. It doesn’t clump or curdle the way, ahem, “real” cheese can when you use it in queso. It melts smoothly and clings to tortilla chips with enough oomph that you get maximum queso per chip. I will shamelessly take this dip over queso made with actual cheese every single time. 

This Super Bowl Sunday, or any other event where hungry people will be gathering for fun, bust out this classic two-ingredient queso dip. I swear it’ll vanish before halftime. 

How To Make My Mom’s Cheesy Ro*Tel Dip

You’ll need:

  • 1 (10-ounce) can Ro*Tel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (do not drain)
  • 1 (16-ounce) block of original Velveeta, cut into 1-inch cubes

Combine the canned tomatoes and chiles and the cubes of Velveeta in a microwaveable dish that holds about 1 1/2 quarts. Cover, then microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir, then microwave another 2 minutes. The exact timing will depend on your microwave.

Stir until smooth. Serve with tons of tortilla chips. Serves about six hungry teenagers after school or 12 to 20 people grazing at a party. 

A Few Extra Tips

  • In the past mom has used reduced-fat Velveeta and no one seemed to notice.
  • Store brand Velveeta works, but it’s not quite like the real stuff. I also prefer Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles to store brand, but not having the Ro*Tel ones on hand shouldn’t keep you from making it.
  • If the dip cools as it sits out, warm it up in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until smooth and piping hot.
  • Leftovers keep well (you can thank the Frankenfood nature of Velveeta for this). Cover them and refrigerate for up to one week. My co-worker heated a dab to eat over his takeout fries. Smart!

For a heartier dip, try my mom’s , which is just this dip bulked up with ground beef and a few cans of beans.

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

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