This Chili Cream Cheese Dip is the ultimate easy party dip! It uses only 3 ingredients and can be baked in the oven or made in the microwave.
I'll be honest: I've probably eaten this recipe for chili cheese dip more than any other recipe on the blog.
Growing up, this is the dip that everyone in my family loved because it's beyond easy to make, it's full of cheesy goodness, and it is great for sharing.
Chili cheese dip is the kind of recipe to make when you're short on time but need to bring something to a gathering or need something to put out for guests.
Why this recipe works
- Only three ingredients, all of which are in the name: chili, cream cheese, and cheese!
- Versatile: This is a surprisingly versatile and flexible recipe for only being 3 ingredients. It uses canned chili but also works with homemade chili, and it's easy to make meatless by using a can of vegetarian chili.
- So quick! Ready in 15 minutes in the oven or 5 minutes in the microwave. It doesn't get quicker than that for a hot party dip.
- Keep these ingredients on hand for those times when you have surprise company or simply need a good dip for a football game.
- Plain cream cheese: Choose a block of cream cheese, not spreadable cream cheese. You can use fat-free cream cheese or light cream cheese (Neufchatel) for a lower-fat option.
- Chili: I've always used canned chili in this recipe but you can use homemade if you prefer. I like using a traditional diner-style bean chili. Try my vegan black bean soup, quinoa chili (I also have an Instant Pot quinoa chili), or three-bean chili for homemade options.
- Cheddar cheese: Medium or sharp cheddar are great options if you don't mind a little bit of tang. For a more neutral flavor, choose mild cheddar.
Chili cheese dip is all about the layers:
- Spread a block of cream cheese into an oven-safe baking dish. This is easiest if you let the cream cheese sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes first.
- Top the cream cheese with a can of chili. Spread the chili out so that it completely covers the cream cheese.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Bake uncovered, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. This takes about minutes in the oven and 5 minutes in the microwave.
- Serving ideas: Fritos/corn chips are my go-to vehicle for this dip. Celery is another great option.
- Toppings: We usually keep chili cheese dip as simple as possible, but adding sliced green onions and chopped cilantro makes it even better.
- Cream cheese: It's much easier to spread cream cheese when its room temperature. This takes just about 30 minutes. You can also slice the cream cheese and microwave it for 15-30 seconds to quickly soften it.
- Baking dish: An 8x8-inch or similarly sized glass or ceramic baking dish works best.
Leftovers: Leftover cheese dip is best within 3 to 4 days. Keep covered and refrigerated.
Reheating in the microwave: Reheat single portions or the entire dish in the microwave in just 1 to 2 minutes.
Reheating in the oven: Cover the baking dish with foil and reheat it in the oven at 350F until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
Making in advance: Chili cheese dip can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
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Chili Cream Cheese Dip
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature; see note #1
- 15 ounce can of chili any kind works!
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese mild or sharp based on preference
- optional toppings: chopped cilantro, green onion
- corn chips for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Spread the cream cheese so that it fully covers the bottom of an 8x8 inch or similarly sized casserole dish. Spread chili across the top of the cream cheese. Top with shredded cheddar.
- In the oven: Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with corn chips.
- In the microwave: Microwave uncovered for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.
- Room temp cream cheese isn't required but spreads much more easily than cold cream cheese. A block of cream cheese will come to room temperature in about 30 minutes. Another option is to slice the cream cheese and microwave it for 15 seconds to make it spreadable.
- Leftovers: Leftover cheese dip is best within 3 to 4 days. Keep covered and refrigerated.
- Reheating in the microwave: Reheat single portions or the entire dish in the microwave in just 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reheating in the oven: Cover the baking dish with foil and reheat it in the oven at 350F until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
- Making in advance: Chili cheese dip can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.