Sunday, July 21, 2024

Molten cheese, please: Why Mexican ‘fondue’ is far superior

In the Mexican restaurants of my native small town Kentucky, the Tex-Mex version of melted cheese reigns supreme among dips. Deeply flavorful and rich, it’s also quite thin, like a cheesy soup for your unlimited free tortilla chips. After moving to Mexico, I realized this dip still had its training wheels on. There was a much better recipe for this satisfying appetizer right where I was: queso fundido. 

The origins of queso fundido go back to the northern regions of Mexico, particularly the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, where dairy farming and cheese production have long been prevalent. The introduction of cattle and cheese making techniques by Spanish settlers in the 16th century played a significant role in shaping the dish. Over time, Mexican cooks adapted these techniques, incorporating local ingredients to create what we now know as queso fundido. Cheese and Mexican food are by now almost impossible to imagine without the other, especially in the recipe I want to share today, where dairy takes a front row seat. 

A ball of delicious, fresh Oaxaca cheese is the secret to an outstanding queso fundido. (Ingredienta)

Queso fundido gained popularity in Mexican households and restaurants, eventually becoming a staple at celebrations and gatherings. Today, queso fundido continues to be a beloved part of Mexican cuisine, symbolizing the fusion of cultural influences and the enduring appeal of simple comfort food.

I’d like to share a recipe that packs a punch in terms of flavor, using caramelized onions and chorizo to scale up the savory meter even further on this already delicious dish. 

Here’s a delicious recipe for queso fundido with caramelized onions:


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced 
  • 1 tbsp butter 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar 
  • 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, casing removed 
  • 2 cups shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese 
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 
  • Warm tortillas or tortilla chips for serving 


  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes. If the onions start to stick, add a splash of water. 
  2. In a separate skillet, cook the chorizo over medium heat, breaking it up with a spatula, until fully cooked and browned, about 7-10 minutes. Drain any excess fat. 
  3. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). 
  4. In a large cast iron skillet, spread an even layer of the cooked chorizo. Top with the caramelized onions and sprinkle the shredded cheeses evenly over the top. Pro tip: Shred your own cheese to make sure it melts properly! 
  5. Place the skillet or baking dish in the preheated oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes. 
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired. Serve immediately with warm tortillas or tortilla chips for dipping. 

Enjoy this queso fundido recipe with caramelized onions as an appetizer at your next dinner party or eat it all by yourself shamefully with all the lights turned off, binge watching “Baby Reindeer”!

Stephen Randall has lived in Mexico since 2018 by way of Kentucky, and before that, Germany. He’s an enthusiastic amateur chef who takes inspiration from many different cuisines, with favorites including Mexican and Mediterranean.


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