If there’s one cheese dip most requested in my Teens Cook cooking classes it’s the “Almost” El Azteco Cheese Dip recipe. My version of the cheese dip with a cult following is not only popular around the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, but now all through much of the corn belt of Central Illinois. It’s a crowd pleasure for sure.
El Azteco–“The Aztec”–Delicious Mexican Food
El Azteco is the first Mexican restaurant I ever visited. It was back in the early 1980s, and Mexican restaurants were a rarity in the Midwest. Maybe because it’s my first that it holds such a special place in my heart. Firsts have a way of doing that. I could reminisce for hours about all my great memories about El Az, as we Spartans called it, and often do. El Az fans can appreciate that a whole lot more than my family.
I remember how we’d stand in line for what seemed like hours outside or on that dark narrow staircase for dinner. The thankless task of trying to keep the door closed once on the staircase in an attempt to keep the cold winter air or summer humidity out, with what had to be a fire hazard never crossing our minds. Exceeding maximum occupancy didn’t either. We were more worried about being trampled by exiting patrons than thinking of a fire. Oh to be young and fearless.
And we all had our favorites, with mine being the sour cream enchiladas (Enchiladas de Jocoque), the Topopo Salad, and the signature El Az appetizer, the famous El Azteco Cheese Dip.
Origins of Almost El Azteco Cheese Dip Recipe
I’m not sure what the true origins of El Azteco Cheese Dip actually are, but I like to think it was born in that small dark and damp basement of the El Azteco restaurant back in the 1970s. It seems more interesting that way. I’ve searched every resource I can think of, and no one has the answer other than to say it’s really REALLY good and you should try a bowl if you’re ever at El Azteco. Can’t disagree there.
It’s Not “Just Another Cheese Dip” recipe
Cheese dip at most Mexican restaurants is usually a bowl of warm cheesy melty deliciousness called queso. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the never-empty bowl of tortilla chips and salsa. This cheese dip isn’t THAT kind of cheese dip. Nope. Not even close. Queso is good, but this cheese dip may be better if you were to take a vote.
And here’s a news flash–I don’t think this cheese dip recipe is in any way an authentic Mexican dish. Surprise! But that doesn’t seem to matter to us Spartans. We still think El Azteco had the best Mexican cheese dip ever created, authentic or not. No arguments accepted.
How to make Almost El Azteco Cheese Dip
- Start with 2 cups of cottage cheese and 2 cups of sour cream in a large bowl.
- Next add 2 cups of Monterey jack cheese (or Muenster that I swear is what they used in years past).
- “Secret” seasonings get mixed in–1 packet of dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix (with the dried onions sifted out) and 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and cumin.
- Add 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire.
- Add 1-2 chopped jalapenos, to taste, and 4 green onions, chopped.
- Mix and pop in the fridge overnight (or at least 2 hours).
So simple to make and always a crowd pleaser.
I now make a habit of preparing my version called the “Almost” El Azteco dip at least twice a year with the teens in my Teens Cook cooking classes. I’m doing my part to pass the love of El Azteco’s cheese dip to younger generations. They can’t get enough of it. Sparty on my friends!
Almost El Azteco Cheese Dip
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
- 2 cups Monterey jack or Muenster cheese, grated (Jack has more flavor)
- 2 teaspoons of sifted contents of 1 pkg of Lipton’s Onion Soup mix NOT the onions
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 green onions, chopped (count by bulbs)
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced (I use 1 with seeds for a little heat)
- COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl. COVER and let sit in the fridge overnight or at least 2 hours.
- It tastes better if it sits overnight if you can wait that long. SERVE either cold or at room temp with tortilla chips or veggies.