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Bob Armstrong Dip (Copycat Recipe)

Step aside queso – this dip is going to blow it out of the water! Bob Armstrong visited Matt’s El Rancho in Austin, Texas almost 50 years ago and asked for something more unique than their typical offerings, and thus Bob Armstrong Dip was born.

skillet version of Bob Armstrong Dip

Famous Bob Armstrong Dip Recipe

If you’re a huge Tex Mex food lover like me, you won’t find anything more delicious that can be made in as little time as this twist on traditional Chile Con Queso. With salty taco meat, layers of gooey hot Queso mixed with spices, and topped with guacamole and sour cream, it’s time to break out the tortilla chips.

When was the dip invented?

One delicious day, Texas land commissioner Bob Armstrong decided to dine at Matt’s El Rancho founded by Matt Martinez Jr. in Austin, Texas. In asking for something “new and different” instead of the typical menu offerings, the kitchen made him a large skillet of queso dip served with a scoop of meat and a scoop of guacamole on top.

It became an instant hit and permanent menu item. Now a Tex Mex destination and the most popular dish on the menu.

At the restaurant, if you want a small bowl of queso or large skillet of this menu item you order a “Large Bob” or “Small Bob.” If the table is large, a bunch of “Small Bobs” is better so everyone can reach a dish.

This Bob Armstrong Dip recipe is definitely a party favorite, and big batches are easy to make on the fly. A plus when a dip goes as fast as this one does!

Try it with my White Cheese Dip and Guacamole with Pomegranates!

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labeled picture of Bob Armstrong Dip ingredients

Ingredients Needed

Ground beef – For a healthier recipe, try using ground turkey.

American cheese – You can use Velveeta if you can’t find American cheese. 

Red bell pepper – Substitute with Poblano peppers. 

Onion – If needed, replace with shallots. You can also use onion powder in a pinch.

Celery – For crunch!

Roma tomato – Replace with plum tomatoes if you can’t find Roma. 

Poblano pepper – If you don’t have Poblano peppers, use bell peppers. 

Avocados – Choose ripe avocados for best results. Buy store bought guacamole if in a pinch.

Lemon – Use bottled juice in a pinch. Substitute lime juice if desired.

Garlic powder – Substitute with minced garlic if you don’t have garlic powder. 

Ground cumin – Ground coriander is similar to cumin, and a great substitution.

Vegetable oil – For a healthier option, opt for olive oil. 

Salt – I personally prefer kosher salt. 

Pepper – Choose a finely ground pepper rather than a coarsely ground option. 

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How to Make Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

First: In a large skillet, brown beef with your celery, bell pepper, and onion over medium heat. Season with spices. Remove from heat but keep warm off to the side.

Second: Combine all ingredients for guacamole, except the tomato in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork, and make sure not to over mix. Add in diced tomatoes.

Third: For the queso dip, in a medium saucepan, boil 1 cup water. Add in celery, bell pepper, onion, poblano, and tomato. Boil 1 – 2 minutes until soft.

Fourth: Turn the heat to low and whisk in cheese, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a serving dish.

Fifth: Top with a scoop of beef taco meat, and a scoop of the guacamole. Do not mix.

Sixth: Serve with chips and enjoy!

For the full recipe and detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

close up of tortilla chip strip with Bob Armstrong dip on it.

What can I eat Bob Armstrong Dip with?

The most obvious answer is tortilla chips! But I also recommend other options like home cooked potato chips, tortilla strips, or healthier options like bell pepper slices.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

Although the original uses taco meat, a vegetarian Bob is easy to make. Swap out the meat for pinto beans or a meat substitute like Beyond, seasoned the same way that the ground beef would be.

Can I make this dip ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this queso the day before any big events, and just cover and chill in your refrigerator. The next day just make sure to reheat your queso base before adding in your toppings and serving!

close up of chip with beef and guacamole on it over a skillet of Bob Armstrong Dip

Tapas Tips & Tricks

  • Although this meal can be prepped ahead, it’s best to make the queso right before serving to avoid developing any skin on top.
  • Skip the individual spices and use a homemade taco seasoning. The chili powder adds more flavor.
  • For a healthier version, substitute the pound ground beef to ground turkey.
  • To get in some extra veggies, serve with pico de gallo alongside your guac and taco meat.
  • Big spice fan? Try topping your guac with some freshly chopped jalapenos for an extra kick!
  • When serving, make sure not to mix the guac and meat into the queso – this was one of the most important parts of the original recipe that was created at El Rancho restaurant!
  • Choose a shallow serving bowl, so that it’s easy to scoop out after grabbing all your toppings on your chip.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

skillet dip with white banner and text "copycat bob armstrong dip"

This Bob Armstrong Dip recipe has become famous over the years for good reason – the mix of spices and flavors was so good, that Bob couldn’t stop himself from telling everyone about it! Not only is it delicious, but this is one of the easiest dip recipes to make for a party or gathering that you’ll know will always be gone by the end of the night.

overhead picture of skillet dip

Copycat Bob Armstrong Dip

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Whip up this unique and menu favorite Bob Armstrong Dip! A skillet full of cheesy queso, savory taco meat, and creamy guacamole.

Ingredients

Taco Meat

  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper (finely diced)
  • 1/4 cup white onion (finely diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (finely diced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Guacamole

  • 2 large avocados (ripe, peeled, & pitted)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small Roma tomato (finely diced)
  • salt to taste

Queso Dip

  • 1 stalk celery (finely diced)
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper (finely diced)
  • 1/4 cup white onion (finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup poblano pepper (finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup Roma tomatoes (finely diced)
  • 2 cups American cheese (cubed or diced) *Sub Velveeta*
  • Tortilla Chips for Serving

Instructions

Prepare the Taco Meat:

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Add in the celery, onion, bell pepper, and spices. Cook until the veggies are soft. Remove from heat and keep warm while making the rest of the dish.

Prepare the Guacamole:

  1. Make the guacamole by combining all the ingredients, except the tomato, in a bowl with a fork. Do not over mix.
  2. The guacamole should be chunky. Fold in the diced tomato. Set aside.

Prepare the Queso:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.
  2. Add in the diced celery, bell pepper, onion, tomato, and poblano pepper. Boil for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the cubed cheese. Continue whisking until the cheese is smooth.

Assemble the Dip:

  1. Remove from the heat and pour into a serving dish.
  2. Add a scoop of the meat mixture and a scoop of the guacamole to the top.
  3. Do not mix it up as guests should be grabbing a bit of each when they dip the chips in.

Notes

  • Make the queso right before serving. The cheese dip will either separate as it cools or develop a skin on top of it.
  • Skip the individual spices and use a homemade taco seasoning. The chili powder adds more flavor.
  • For a healthier version, substitute the pound ground beef to ground turkey.
  • To get in some extra veggies, serve with pico de gallo alongside your guac and taco meat.
  • Big spice fan? Try topping your guac with some freshly chopped jalapenos for an extra kick!
  • When serving, make sure not to mix the guac and meat into the queso - this was one of the most important parts of the original recipe that was created at El Rancho restaurant!
  • Choose a shallow serving bowl, so that it’s easy to scoop out after grabbing all your toppings on your chip.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 330Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 926mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 18g

    This nutrition information was generated via a third party. I can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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