I don’t know about you, but during my High School years, my friends and I visited Chili’s *at least* once a week. We’d feast on their skillet queso, cajun chicken pasta and more. I have to admit, I stopped eating there years ago. In fact, the last time I ate there was one a family road trip. We stopped and I habitually ordered the queso for the table and my stomach hurt sooooo badly afterwards. I sure wish I still had the gut of steel I had in my high-school years but it’s just not the way my body functions these days. Don’t you just love getting old?
Considering it was one of those nostalgic dishes I adored growing up, I thought it would be fun to re-create it in my own kitchen with a healthy twist: Dairy-Free Chili’s Queso. I love making my own enchilada sauce and the last time I was making it, I had a moment of nostalgia and thought.. wow, this kinda smells like Chili’s queso!? A combination of a quick, paleo compliant enchilada sauce, some browned beef, and some Siete Foods Cashew Queso and voila! The most amazing Dairy-Free copycat recipe of the Chili’s skillet queso ever! You can see if any of your local grocery stores carry the cashew queso by clicking here, or you can order online!
I honestly still cannot believe how fabulous this Copycat Dairy-Free Chili’s Queso turned out and I cannot wait for y’all to give it a try!
If your stomach can handle dairy, try my Queso Fundido with Chorizo.
Dairy-Free Chili's Queso
- 1 tsp + 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1/2 lb lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
- 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper optional, or more to taste (i do a bit more for a spicer version)
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp arrowroot flour
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 [10.8 ounce] jar of Siete Foods Cashew Queso (the Mild Nacho Flavor)
- pico de gallo, for serving (optional)
- chips, for serving (I use Siete Foods Grain-Free Tortilla Chips)
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, ground beef, salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the meat with a back of a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink and is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp avocado. Add the cayenne, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and smoked paprika and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring, until the spices are very fragrant and toasted, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the arrowroot flour and whisk until well combined and there are no longer any clumps. Once combined, add the tomato paste and using a rubber spatula or spoon, stir until well combined. It will likely be a big glob at this point-- but that's how it is supposed to be.
- While whisking, slowly pour in the beef broth until well incorporated. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let cook, simmering uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the meat to the sauce and stir to combine, then add the cashew queso. Stir to combine. Let cook, stirring, until the cashew queso is heated through. Taste and add more salt or cayenne pepper, if desired.
- Serve immediately topped with pico de gallo (not necessary) and with chips for dipping! Enjoy!
KatherineSeptember 10, 2022 at 3:18 pm
Has anyone tried this recipe with a different brand of dairy free queso besides Siete? Everywhere I’ve looked said it’s out of stock or not carried at the normal retailers where it used to be carried.
BrittneySeptember 24, 2022 at 8:20 pm
Same question! Can’t find it and it be perfect for football sundays!
AlexSeptember 25, 2022 at 1:32 pm
I just got word that they discontinued their queso!!! so sad!!! I know that Credo makes a DF cashew queso, that should work.
BrittneySeptember 25, 2022 at 9:20 pm
Thank you! I tried the recipe with Primal Kitchen queso and enjoyed it! I look for credo!
RachelFebruary 9, 2023 at 11:36 pm
Kite Hill Queso is amazing!
KrisJuly 14, 2022 at 9:47 pm
Could you sub arrowroot for tapioca starch? I have it in my pantry.
AlexJuly 20, 2022 at 5:04 pm
MariaJuly 14, 2022 at 8:25 pm
Has anyone tried the recipe with the spicy version? My store only carries that type.
IngridMarch 7, 2022 at 9:35 pm
I don’t enjoy cooking BUT this was great!! So easy and everyone was obsessed with it Everyone was scraping out of their bowls – that’s how tasty it was. So easy to make that I would gladly make this again!
AllisonJanuary 19, 2022 at 12:56 am
Just want to say that I made this tonight and it truly did not disappoint. There’s something about having it on a random, cold winter night that is so satisfying. The flavors were on point, and my household just loved it. Thanks so much for sharing this! We’re so excited to use the leftovers on tostadas tomorrow.
Cristina FFebruary 22, 2021 at 6:07 pm
A new gameday staple in our house! This queso is delicious and would fool any dairy eater. Can’t wait to make it again!
Julie HardingDecember 18, 2021 at 10:48 pm
OMG! Thank you! I’m headed to. a party tonight and wanted to bring something I could eat AND be excited about. This 100% did the trick. I *may* have just “quality control” sampled a full serving! I didn’t have a couple of items on hand so I improvised a bit. I was out of ground beef, so I used some Pederson’s chorizo links that I finely diced and I substituted the Siete queso with this recipe: https://makeitdairyfree.com/the-best-vegan-cashew-queso/. For that recipe, I subbed a can of green chiles for the adobo.
SarahFebruary 8, 2021 at 5:07 pm
So good! Thank you Alex for making our favorites a little bit healthier.
Kristin HothersallFebruary 8, 2021 at 12:11 am
Soooo delicious! First quarter of super bowl not even over and it’s eaten 😋
MeganFebruary 6, 2021 at 3:42 pm
It’s a little embarrassing to admit the amount of skillet queso I consumed during my years working at Chili’s in college. Many years later, I’m a little more discerning about what I put in my body… and DANG. This is an amazing spin on that old favorite! Anything that feels and tastes indulgent, but doesn’t wreck my stomach afterwards?! Count me in!
SaraFebruary 3, 2021 at 10:26 pm
This looks delicious! Do you think it would be ok to omit the ground beef and sub veggie stock to make it vegetarian?
AlexFebruary 3, 2021 at 11:25 pm
yes that should still be delicious.
Sarah RadabaughDecember 19, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Is this something that we can make ahead of time if necessary?
AlexDecember 22, 2020 at 1:51 am
yes you could for sure!
GenevieveDecember 11, 2020 at 9:14 pm
I love this recipe but my husband, who is kosher and can’t mix meat and dairy, REALLY loves it. I make it all the time as a dip but also as a soft taco filling and it makes him (& me!) so so so happy.
AlexDecember 12, 2020 at 5:27 pm
love that idea as a taco filling!
MeaghanNovember 8, 2020 at 9:42 pm
DELICIOUS! I don’t splurge on “substitutes” often (I just go without “cheese” rather than having fake cheese), but when I got a craving for queso… This recipe really delivers!!! Even my husband, who eats the real stuff, said “I feel like I’m not supposed to like this, but it’s good!” Thanks, Alex!!
AlexNovember 9, 2020 at 12:54 pm
Oh good!! I am the same way. If it’s “fake” cheese, it’s gotta be really flavorful and fun. Glad you agree!! And thanks for leaving a rating xoxo
HannahNovember 2, 2020 at 8:09 pm
Can’t wait to try this! Just reading through, you mentioned ghee in the instructions but not in the ingredients. If this is dairy free can you recommend a nondairy ghee alternative? And also if not dairy free, what is the quantity of ghee needed? Thank you!!!
AlexNovember 3, 2020 at 1:06 pm
Sorry, that was an error from when I edited the recipe to remove the ghee! it’s all fixed now.