Obesity is associated with chronic low-grade white adipose tissue (WAT) inflammation that can contribute to the development of insulin resistance in mammals. Previous studies have identified interleukin (IL)-12 as a critical upstream regulator of WAT inflammation and metabolic dysfunction during obesity. However, the cell types and mechanisms that initiate WAT IL-12 production remain unclear. Here we show that conventional type 1 dendritic cells (cDC1s) are the cellular source of WAT IL-12 during obesity through analysis of mouse and human WAT single-cell transcriptomic datasets, IL-12 reporter mice and IL-12p70 protein levels by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We demonstrate that cDC1s contribute to obesity-associated inflammation by increasing group 1 innate lymphocyte interferon-? production and inflammatory macrophage accumulation. Inducible depletion of cDC1s increased WAT insulin sensitivity and systemic glucose tolerance during diet-induced obesity. Mechanistically, endocytosis of apoptotic bodies containing self-DNA by WAT cDC1s drives stimulator of interferon genes (STING)-dependent IL-12 production. Together, these results suggest that WAT cDC1s act as critical regulators of adipose tissue inflammation and metabolic dysfunction during obesity.