Healthier Cheese Dip – a Velveeta and Rotel Recipe Knock Off!

Today, I have written a very heart felt letter to my friend, Velveeta.  I hope you don’t mind that I shared it.  It’s rather personal, so I hope no one feels embarrassed to read my inner-most thoughts.  I’m sure that my friend Velveeta is a friend to some of you too.  Truly, if I would have had a daughter, I would have named her Velveeta in honor of my friend.

Okay, totally not really.  But still.

Dear Velveeta,

I dearly love you.  I grew up eating you and some days, I really miss you.  I often visit you in the store, just in case you miss me too.  Have you seen me there, lingering by your shelves?

What exactly are you made of anyway?  Wait – don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know.  Reading your label makes me queasy, but when I mix you with a can of rotel, I could gladly grab a bag of chips and eat half the bowl.  You are delicious.  You are comfort food.  You are memories from my childhood.  And for goodness sakes you taste incredible alongside a cold glass of Pepsi.

But you are “processed cheese food”.  What in the world does that mean?  No wait - really – don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know.  I just want to eat you in ignorance so that I won’t know the full effects of what something such as you can do to the insides of my body. 

But alas, since my family began Our Healthy Eating Journey a few years ago, I chose to give you up.  I have a new friend now that has a striking resemblance to you, but one that doesn’t make me feel so sick inside. 

Those were some good times we had together – you, me and the Pepsi.  Please know that I’ll hold the memory of you forever in my heart. 

Insanely Yours,
Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers  

Well, now you know.  Velveeta-Rotel chip dip and I go way back.  I miss her.  I love her.  But there’s a new kid in town, one that is made from real food that I can trust not to turn my gut wrong-side-out.  I’ve been tinkering with this dish for the past couple of years and my family loves it!  It’s not quite as thick as the Velveeta-Rotel dip, but I would imagine that the ingredients that make that one thick are ingredients you and I don’t know how to pronounce.  Just lean over the bowl when you eat this.  A little dip running down the chin never hurt anyone.

Healthier Cheese Dip

1 pound ground hamburger meat (seasoned with Homemade Taco Seasoning if you like!)
2 cups salsa
1 cup cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Organic Corn Chips

Brown hamburger meat and season if desired.  Stir salsa and cream into the meat, stirring constantly while heating on medium heat for about three minutes.  Remove mixture from heat and add shredded cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve with Organic Corn Chips.  (You can stir in 1/2 cup sour cream or 3 ounces cream cheese if you’d like.)

Don’t leave me hanging.  I must know if you are friends with Velveeta too.  Do you love her with Rotel?  And tell me, is Velveeta a lovely name, or what?

Again, totally not really.

Comments

  1. says

    Yikes, after reading some of the above comments, I had to go look at the bag of shredded “Marble Jack” (Colby/Monterey Jack) in the fridge… the usual cheese ingredients, then “potato starch, starch and cellulose powder to prevent caking, and natamycin (mold inhibitor).” Should I mention the brand??
    Yuck, no wonder my eggs tasted chalky this morning! I usually buy shredded cheese at Sam’s Club – I will be double-checking their ingredients. I wish we could afford the better stuff!

    [Reply]

    Shelley Reply:

    Try shredding your own cheese. I’ve been doing it for years!
    Not only does it taste SO much better, but it is also better for
    you. Do you know what the white dust on the shredded bagged
    cheese is?!? It is bits of saw dust. But we won’t see that in the
    ingredients!

    [Reply]

  2. Charlotte Moore says

    I think I would like this with half the salsa and it should be thicker also. Love reading all the funny stories of the love for Velvetta.

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  3. says

    My mom always made Pimento Cheese with Velveeta…..I love it. I too have looked at Velveeta in the store – even picked it up. But I always put it back.
    How can something with such an awesome name be so, so……wrong?

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  4. Melanie says

    Sadly I love it too…. I am an addict! :) Much try this so we can have a healthlier alternative! Your blog has been so insiring and helpful! Thank you so much!!! :)

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  5. says

    Thanks for the recipe. I think I will make it for the next time we have to take food to church. I too loved Velveeta growing up, especially grilled cheese sandwiches!! Hope to make this soon. Thanks again. Sincerely, One Happy Reader :)

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  6. Rebekah says

    we use cream cheese in place of the velveeta and it is awesome!
    1lb sausage – cooked
    2 pkgs cream cheese
    2 cans rotel
    throw it all in the crock pot for a few hours and its good to go!

    [Reply]

    Erin Reply:

    Followed your suggestion on the cream cheese and was very happy with the results! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Stephany Reply:

    I have tried this minus one can of rotel and baked it for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Delish!

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  7. Shawna Cale says

    I loved velveeta with rotel growing up and as an adult, but I too can’t make myself buy it knowing how bad it is for me and my family. We love Tillamook cheddar cheese and it makes great grilled cheese (better than Velveeta), but I haven’t tried making the cheese dip with it yet. Thanks for the recipe.

    In Christ,
    Shawna Cale

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  8. Darla says

    Ha ha! That was hilarious! But, if you would look in my fridge, yep, there is Velveeta there… Can’t seem to give the stuff up! We don’t eat it often, but I do like it on a warm zwieback with rhubarb sauce. I don’t however, like the Nacho dip stuff at all. Maybe when I grow up, I will be like you and be able to conquer my addictions! lol

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  9. Melissa says

    Oh girl…when I was pregnant with my first baby I gained 8lbs in a MONTH because I was addicted to Velveeta and rotel. Glad to have this healthier alternative!

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  10. Amy says

    What a great healthy alternative! Thanks. My family will love it. I’m glad that you are always thinking up new recipes! You’ve revived my love for cooking.

    [Reply]

  11. Kristina says

    I am a big fan of Tillamook cheese, and it fulfills all of my cheese needs except one: macaroni and cheese. Sure it makes a fantastic cheese sauce, but I have never been able to forget about my old favorite- Velveeta and Shells. I can’t seem to come up with anything to compare with Velveeta and sheels. It’s probably been six years or so since I bought my last yellow box…but I still think about it! If anyone has a knock-off recipe for Velveeta and Shells PLEASE share!!

    [Reply]

    Laura@HeavenlyHomemakers Reply:

    Well, I happen to think this recipe beats all: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/high-five-recipe-creamy-mac-and-cheese

    But that’s just me. :)

    [Reply]

    Sheri Beeker Reply:

    Yes, the creamy mac and cheese that Laura came up with is awesome!
    I’m addicted to her creamy mac and cheese recipe. I make it
    once a week! You have to try it.

    [Reply]

  12. says

    Yes!! I love Velveeta. Oh, the creamy goodness. My favorite was to make the dip with sausage instead of ground beef. But alas, we try to avoid those unpronounceable ingredients too.
    The kids miss it most when we have broccoli.

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  13. Kim says

    Rotel and mac ‘n cheese are the toughest things to give up. My Mom always used Velveeta to make mac ‘n cheese, so that’s how it should be made! Does the cheddar in your dip not make it stringy?

    [Reply]

    Laura@HeavenlyHomemakers Reply:

    It doesn’t get stringy for me IF I make sure I move the mixture off the heat before I add the cheese AND if the cheddar I’m using is not pre-shredded.

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  14. Christy says

    I only like grilled cheese with Velveeta. That’s how it was growing up. Even though I can happily switch out the white bread for wheat, and the margarine for butter, I have yet to find anything that melts like Velveeta in a grilled cheese. Mmmmm.

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  15. Terri Robinson says

    This post is too funny. I love Velveeta cheese too but I just can;t make myself buy it now that I know what it is made of. Glad I’m not the only one :-)

    [Reply]

  16. Courtney says

    I love Velveeta! I try to not eat it because I really don’t know what it is, but it sure is delicious. Lol! Thank you for this alternative.

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  17. Melinda says

    I have been wanting to give up Velveeta for years, but the Rotel dip is sooooo good. It is always on the menu for the super bowl party and is such a wonderful Sunday evening I-already-cooked-once-today-here-is-some-dip supper. I have an unopened block in the cabinet right now. That it keeps so long in the cabinet is one reason I want to quit buying it! One last hoorah and I will be trying your new recipe. (Which I wrote directly on an index card, instead of a piece of scrap paper waiting until I try it once. So you see, I have great faith in this recipe!)

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  18. Polly Fontenot says

    My crew loves to dip and velveeta/rotel was their fave. We started doing cream cheese, with shredded cheese on top and a dollop of salsa in the middle and they like it too. Alas, not the same as hot cheese dip though. They try to sneak the velveeta into my buggy sometimes. I am going to try this one out on them.

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  19. says

    Where I’m from we call that dip queso. And I used to live for it, and in college, it was a hit at parties. But then I made it for my in-laws (while hubby and I were dating) and they didn’t like it so much, because it was made of Velveeta. I was heartbroken.

    Though now I don’t buy Velveeta because of how processed it is. It hasn’t been too hard to give up–my mom made mac’n'cheese with REAL cheese.

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  20. Chrystel says

    You are so funny! I just love your letter to Velveeta! Yes. I love the mac and cheese and a diet pepsi but have given that up!

    [Reply]

  21. Bethany says

    Oh Laura, thank you so much for doing this!!! Velveeta and I used to be close, but I had the same revelation you did, and I haven’t brought Velveeta home with me from the store in a long time :)
    I have a home-made Velveeta/Rotel dip that’s similar, but I put in either some cream cheese or sour cream, too. Gives it a little more ‘thickness’ and the sharp cheese flavor. Our household gobbles it up!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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  22. John says

    We are going to try this tonight. I stopped eating Velvetta as soon as I had heard it was one molecule away from plastic. But oh how I miss it so. Been Velvetta free since 2005.

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  23. Traci E. says

    There is a way to thicken this up a bit. You start by melting 2-3 T. butter in a pan then adding 2-3 T. flour, mix that together. Then adding the rest of the ingredients as you mentioned (maybe cooking it a tad bit longer) it should thicken right up…at least it did for me. The flour and butter thing is called roux and is usually used to thicken soups, etc. But it works great with this too! :)

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  24. Marisa says

    I made this tonight with slight changes. I sprinkled in some flour over the browned meat. I didn’t have cream so I added 4 oz of cream cheese andruses only 1/2 cup of milk. It was thick and super yummy! My kids and husband loved it! Thanks for the great recipe!

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  25. Colean says

    This looks yummy! I never did prefer the meat variety of dip to the meatless. I’m a meatless queso kind of girl ^_^

    The one thing I’d miss Velveeta most in, is my mom’s ghetto lasagna (which replaces the Italian cheeses inside of the lasagna with Velveeta). It’s a taste of childhood and I could eat an entire pan (and have on occasion >.>).

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  26. Andrea F. says

    I saw this recipe and it immediately made me think of you and your love of all things Velveeta. And since you’re not one to shy away from making things from scratch, I figured you would love to give it a shot! :)

    Homemade American Cheese
    Source: http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/recipes/homemade-american-cheese/

    1 tablespoon water
    1½ teaspoons powdered gelatin
    12 ounces Colby cheese, shredded
    1 tablespoon whole milk powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    ? teaspoon cream of tartar
    ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

    1. Line 5-by 4-inch disposable aluminum loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing excess to hang over sides.

    2. Place water in small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over top, and let mixture sit for 5 minutes. Pulse cheese, milk powder, salt, and cream of tartar in food processor until combined, about 3 pulses.

    3. Meanwhile, bring milk to boil in small saucepan. Off heat, stir in softened gelatin until dissolved, and transfer mixture to 1-cup liquid measuring cup. With processor running, slowly add hot milk mixture to cheese mixture until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed.

    4. Immediately transfer cheese mixture to prepared pan, pressing to compact. Wrap tightly and chill at least 3 hours, or overnight.

    [Reply]

  27. Sheila says

    I couldn’t believe it when I read this post this morning! Just yesterday at lunch and friend and I were discussing an alternative to Velveeta because she can’t handle the preservatives etc. in it and she just hadn’t come up w/ an alternative. Your name came up as a possible source!!! Thanks so much for all you do!

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  28. Amanda says

    I make a cheese dip that comes out nice and thick by using a roux. I cook up the roux (flour and butter), add a bit of milk and then the cheese just like if you were making a cream sauce. It works nice for a dip like this OR on a veggie like broccoli. Yum!

    [Reply]

  29. Amanda says

    I made this for lunch yesterday. It came out a bit thin but it tasted nice. I just wanted to tell you that today I made the leftovers (which was a lot) into a pasta dish. I just cooked up a box of pasta and drained it. While the pasta drained I put the dip in the pan to warm and then stirred in the pasta. My kids and boyfriend gobbled it down.

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  30. Ruthie says

    I just tried this dip without the meat and my family devoured it and wanted more. Somehow it tasted like it had meat in it. I used a salsa with corn and black beans in it so maybe that gave it a meatier consistency.

    [Reply]

  31. Jenn says

    When your recipes call for cream, what kind, brand, do you use? Is it heavy cream? I’m new to this eating healthier journey. Thanks…

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I sometimes use cream straight from a farm, but yes, if I buy it from the store, I use the heavy whipping cream.

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Jenn, Just wanted to say that you are not alone ;) I literally read down through all of these comments hoping that this question would be answered so I wouldn’t feel silly asking.

    [Reply]

  32. Pip says

    Thank you for this! I’m Australian and I’ve seen this recipe posted so many times, but we don’t have Velveeta or anything like this. Using your recipes I can now make what a lot of my US friends rave about! Thank you!

    [Reply]

  33. anne says

    I’m looking for summer recipies for my teenagers + their friends. Never made a queso dip before. So happy to stumble into a healthier one. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  34. MissB says

    I just made this dip using cream cheese instead of cream (didn’t have any) and my family LOVED it!!!! My husband said it was perfection, the best dip he has ever tasted! Thank you so much, love your recipes!

    [Reply]

  35. Heart Attack Man says

    I was astonished to find that a google search of what I affectionately called “heart attack dip” had a startling resemblance to everyone else’s heart attack dip. Mine was very simple: block of velveeta, jar of salsa, tube of hot breakfast sausage. It was/is great tasting, and wholly bad for anyone who consumes it. After a lot of sifting through nutrition facts labels of products, and years of tasting new things, I have found the closest approximation of this dip that is precariously close to being healthy. I still eat both healthy and unhealthy foods, and trust me when I say this one is a “no compromise” solution to the unhealthy dip issue.

    Tostitos’ Salso con Queso dip.
    Jimmy dean Hearty Sausage crumbles made w/turkey.
    Any salsa you prefer, or even just chopped up jalapeno or serrano peppers.

    Read the labels. Taste the ingredients. Mix them and realize you’ve just made something with 1/2-1/3 the calories, 1/2 the sat-fats, and 90% the flavor of the unhealthiest dip you’ve ever tasted in your life.

    I was as surprised as anyone that the Tostitos Salsa Con Queso dip was less than half as bad as cheddar cheese, and that the Jimmy Dean turkey sausage crumbles were close enough to fool a die-hard pork fan. Good enough to use in a sausage and cheese omelette.

    Let me know if you agree – try it once, you’ll be hooked.

    [Reply]

    realfoodmom Reply:

    I’m sorry, but I must disagree with you. I just looked up the ingredients for your queso dip and it is awful! First off it is made with skim milk, that is the waste-product of other foods, never touch the stuff. Vegetable oil is not healthier than traditional fats, the medical community is just now starting to wake up to this. ‘Natural Flavors’? Duck feathers, crushed beatles and a host of other things, ewww. Sodium Hexametaphosphate, used in cardboard boxes and bubble bath. Monosodium glutamate absolutely awful stuff. Artificial colors yellows 5 & 6. Within 30 minutes of eating this stuff ADD kids would be going berserk! Artificial colors have warning labels in other countries and for good reason.

    [Reply]

    Rodger Pollak Reply:

    All points well taken. “Close to being healthy” was
    a bit of a stretch to say the least. I would argue,
    however, that compared to a recipe with “real” breakfast sausage and Velveeta “cheese”, it isn’t all bad news
    either. Regular breakfast sausage has beaks and toenails
    and MSG also, as well as a ton of extra calories and
    saturated fat.

    Right now, my weight and blood levels of cholesterol
    are my main and most immediate serious health concerns,
    so I’m focusing on lower caloric intake and reduction of saturated fats.

    The comment about vegetable oil has me curious though,
    as I’m looking to balance all my Mono/poly/Saturated/
    Omega3/6 ratios. What are you considering a “traditional
    fat” that would be better? For instance, I was thinking
    olive oil and salmon would be a good combo. Is there new research coming out saying I should butter it instead or something? Please say yes :) If so are there any good
    sites to read up on it?

    Once I get my other stuff under control, I’m sure I will naturally start to look further down the ingredient lists
    for the rest of the horrible things to worry about – and
    I’m not being sarcastic, I know they really are that bad -
    but I’m still working on the bottom rung of that ladder.

    [Reply]

  36. knoxvillepixie says

    I just made this using the leftover ground beef I seasoned to taste like italian sausage for your whole wheat calzone recipe. I added 2 oz cream cheese, 1 cup cheese, and the bottom-of-the-jar of salsa, probably 2 tbs. So delicious! I am guessing the container will be empty by the time I get home from work tonight as Hubs is a big fan of chips and dip! Thanks for the recipes and hints, I am loving that I just discovered your site!

    [Reply]

  37. Laura says

    Hi Laura,
    So, I came to this website looking for a substitute for the Velveeta because I love making Chicken Tortilla soup and I have an AMAZING recipe for it, but eating that much velveeta leaves me feeling dirty and wrong every time. Is the cream & cheddar in this recipe a good sub for velveeta for most things? Do you think it would be okay in soup? Or do you think this recipe just works because of all the ingredients involved? Thanks so much for your help!

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    It should substitute just fine in any recipe. :)

    [Reply]

  38. Arlene says

    I was wondering what you used as cream? Would love to try and make this since my family is big on queso!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    I use the raw cream that I skim off the top of our farm fresh milk, or I use the “heavy whipping cream” I get at the store.

    [Reply]

  39. Megan says

    You may have just saved my marriage! Velveeta cheese dip and miracle whip are two things my husband does not want to live without! We’ll definitely be trying this soon!!!

    [Reply]

  40. says

    I don’t know what I was thinking, but I recently got my 5-year-old hooked on American cheese. :-( I even made a cheese sauce out of Kraft 2% milk singles (whatever that means!) and milk for him tonight. He hates cheddar (WHAT!). But adding cream to cheese might just do the trick… can’t wait to get some *real* cheese and some cream and attempt make some magic. Thanks for the idea.

    [Reply]

  41. Ashley says

    So it’s just cream like what you can buy in a can? Would Sour Cream work?

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Heavy whipping cream will come in a carton sold in the dairy aisle. Sour cream might be a bit thick, but I am sure you can try it and see!

    [Reply]

  42. Susan Alexander says

    I don’t think I ever posted, but we love this recipe here. That said, I did find it too thin when made with cream so I make it with sour cream instead and that seems to thicken it up just enough. Also using some of my taco seasoning (and no water with it) seems to thicken it up a bit too. If only I could somehow make it casein free for my one daughter, it’d be perfect, but thankfully she’s happy with just plain chips.

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  43. Allison says

    I’m just finding your blog and enjoying looking at the recipies…so my question is when it says cream (like when you make sour cream in a previous post and the cream mentioned in this one), what kind of cream are you talking about? Whipping cream?
    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Allison Reply:

    Duh…I see the answer after looking closer at other comments :)

    [Reply]

  44. Vicki says

    I have a love affair with Velveeta….it reminds me if my grandmas cheese dip which not only contains the thick creamy processed cheese stuff but it is accompanied by a stick of margarine a can of cream of mushroom soup and then the usual suspects such as ground beef, salsa, chili powder, peppers, onions and jalapeños. This “food” is a severe temptation!!! I cannot wait to give your version a try soon and see if I can convert my whole family!!!

    [Reply]

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