It’s pretty hard to improve on cheese—unless you’re dipping all kinds of carby and crunchy things into a bowl of gooey melted cheese that’s been amped up with mix-ins and toppings. Maybe that’s why cheese dip shows up in cuisines worldwide. In Mexico, you’ll find a big, broiled pot of Queso Fundido (also called queso flameado) served as an appetizer at parties. This dish has literal flair: a sauce made from spiced ground chorizo is covered with melted cheese and then flambéed. You can make this dish at home by following our recipe from chef Rick Bayless, who flavors his dip with tomatoes, chiles, onion, and then ignites it with tequila.   You can’t travel far in the American Southwest without seeing chile con queso. "In Texas, whether you're at a restaurant or a house party or a church youth group meeting, there are always people gathered around a nice, big bowl of queso—almost like they're gathered around a fire,” says Lisa Fain of New York City restaurant El Original. Recipes for this melted Tex-Mex dish appear as early 1949 and became so quintessential that in 1976, Lady Bird Johnson contributed a recipe for chile con queso to the community cookbook of the San Antonio Symphony League. While this dip can be as simple as combining a can of Rotel tomatoes and a block of Velveeta, our collection includes modern twists like Chef Courtney McBroom’s Three Queso dip made from American cheese, Manchego and sharp cheddar. Related: Party Dips The classic European cheese dip is fondue. The Swiss have been making fondue since the 1800s, when it was a peasant dish meant to turn aged cheese and bread into a delicious meal. Cheese is combined with liquor (try white wine or Kirsch) and melted into a smooth, creamy dip for cubed bread, crunchy crudité, or even sliced charcuterie. Our collection includes recipes for both classic fondue and delicious variations, like Aged Gouda Fondue with Caraway Croutons. Cheese dip doesn’t have to be melted. Take pimento cheese, a Southern staple made from a blend of cheddar, mayonnaise, and chopped peppers. Pimento is super easy to make at home. We’ve included a modern version that gets a tangy twist from goat cheese as well as a classic from chef Carla Hall, who serves her dip with homemade Salt-and-Pepper Butter Crackers. Dip into our collection to see more party-ready recipes from spicy, gooey Corn Queso Fundido to a pretty Pepper-Glazed Goat Cheese Gratin. —Carrie Mullins

Food & Wine

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