Mom’s Hot Taco Dip

I grew up in the Midwest where summers were long, hot and humid. Barbecues and outdoor parties were frequent. People (legally) set off their own fireworks. The huge Fourth of July fireworks celebration occurred over the lake front on the night of July 3rd at a massive outdoor music festival and everyone was hung over at their family’s get together on July 4th. For me, as a child, summer involved food, food and more food. No surprise I turned into a foodie as an adult!

This dip is one of those quintessential Midwest dishes. Anyone who knows me and knows that I grew up in the Midwest would eye me carrying this dish and just know that it was one of those Midwest dishes that I grew up on. Like Stroganoff or cheesy hash brown casserole.

I was convinced I had blogged this family favorite years ago until I tried to find the post today to update it with recent photos and came up with nothing. Nada. Zilch. No matter! There’s no time like the present to share this recipe; it’s the perfect dip for any picnic, barbecue or party. And as it’s Memorial Day today, may I suggest you bring this dish to your Memorial Day plans? It’s easy to put together and you may even have all of the ingredients already in your pantry/fridge/cupboards. I did!

When I was growing up, for about the first 10 years, we lived in a house that had an underground pool in the back and a yard so big in the front you could set up a full-sized volleyball court. We often hosted parties with family and friends; especially in the summer. This dish was a constant presence at my family’s summer parties and one that I always asked for on my birthday. (Along with brats, cheesy hash brown casserole and red velvet cake).

It’s about the easiest dip you’ll ever make. My mom called it Hot Taco Dip, which seems like a bit of a misleading name. We ate it with Doritos instead of tortilla chips because, well, we lived in the Midwest. The only time I remember eating tortilla chips was at our neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurant (Chi-Chi’s). Even though there’s nothing really taco-isn about dip, I’m going to stick with the original name because this recipe goes back so long in our family that it’s too late to change it now.

Everyone I’ve ever shared this dish with has gushed over it. If you like chili and you like cheese and you like Doritos (and who doesn’t?) you’ll love this dish.


  • 1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened at least slightly
  • 1 15-oz can chili (I used Hormel brand, no beans)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped fine
  • 4 oz shredded cheese (I used a mixture of Colby Jack and Monterrey Jack)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bottom of an 8×8 square dish, spread the cream cheese. Top with the canned chili, chopped onions and shredded cheese.
  3. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. (Alternatively, you can store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake; you’ll need to bake longer.) Serve with Doritos, the way my family ate it. Or tortilla chips, if you must.


Note: You can easily adapt this recipe to make a bigger serving. My mom’s original recipe is for a 9×12 dish. It calls for two packages of cream cheese and one can of chili. The beauty of this recipe is that you can cater it to your taste. You can go heavy on the cream cheese or heavy on the chili or even-steven with both. If you want a bit of shredded cheese on top or you want your dish swimming in melted cheese … you can choose! So please take the above recipe and adapt it to your own tastes. It won’t be bad. I promise!

If you want a super simple way to dazzle party goers, make this appetizer and Easy Dirt Cake for dessert along with some brats, burgers and hot dogs and your guests will be more than pleased.

Happy Memorial Day and have a great summer in 2017!

Recipe rating: 


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