Healthy Queso Dip (Dairy-free, Soy-free)

This queso dip is one of my new favorite party snacks.


I served it to my friends at a get together last weekend, and everyone was shocked at its similarity to the popular Ro*tel dip— which is a simple mix of diced tomatoes and chiles, with a melted block of Velveeta. For this dip, I wanted to recreate that classic flavor, without using any “processed cheese product.”

To my surprise, it’s actually not that difficult to recreate that processed cheesy flavor. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that most “cheese products” don’t contain much real cheese to begin with?

Instead, this dip gets its creaminess from raw cashews! Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, they’re also loaded with iron, magnesium and tryptohpan. Paired with fresh lemon juice and diced tomatoes, providing a healthy dose of vitamin C, this dip– unlike it’s processed counterpart– is practically guilt-free!

Healthy Queso Dip (Dairy-free, Soy-free)
makes about 2 1/2 cups


1 cup raw cashews*, soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
juice of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles

*Raw cashews have a very mild and neutral flavor that works well in this recipe. Try to avoid using roasted cashews, which have a stronger cashew flavor.


In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the first six ingredients, plus the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. (I was able to get about 1/4 cup of liquid from the can.)


Blend until a smooth and creamy “cheese” sauce is created. Feel free to add more liquid, if you like, but keep in mind that the diced tomatoes and chiles will also thin-out the sauce a bit.


Transfer the cheese mixture to a large bowl, then add in the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. Stir well to combine.

dip mix

At this point, be sure to adjust any flavors to your taste, then warm the dip using a small crock pot, or by heating it gently over a stove top. As the dip is warmed, it becomes even more authentic!

Serve with baked tortilla chips and fresh sliced veggies, for a nutrient-rich party snack!


4.8 from 34 votes
A creamy, dairy-free queso, similar to the popular Ro*tel dip!
Servings: 2 .5 cups
  • 1 cup raw cashews , soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • juice of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 14 oz . can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  1. In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the first six ingredients, plus the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. (I was able to get about 1/4 cup of liquid from the can.)
  2. Blend until a smooth and creamy "cheese" sauce is created.
  3. Transfer the cheese mixture to a large bowl, then add in the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles. Stir well to combine.
  4. At this point, be sure to adjust any flavors to your taste, then warm the dip using a small crock pot, or by heating it gently over a stove top. As the dip is warmed, it becomes even more authentic!
  5. Serve with baked tortilla chips and fresh sliced veggies, for a nutrient-rich party snack!


Reader Feedback: Are you a queso fan? Have you ever made Ro*tel dip before? I have always been a huge fan of warm queso dips, so now I can get my “cheesy” fix, without a stomach ache later!

Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organsβ€” no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

146 thoughts on “Healthy Queso Dip (Dairy-free, Soy-free)

  1. Kelly Jo

    YUM!!! I have this on hand thanks to another recipe you posted (nacho cheese I do believe). Before I started paying attention to ingredients, that dip was one of my faves. No more…. I am glad to have an alternative recipe!

  2. Donia

    If I didn’t trust you so much, I would have a hard time believing there was no processed cheese in that. It looks like the original recipe! I will definitely be trying this!!!

  3. Dee Kate Dorocant

    I love your site and share it on my site. I found you through Tara Stiles yoga in New York. I’m a single Mother and short of time, but I do not serve my kids ready meals and love cooking when I can. I follow your recipes. If you ever get to read my message as you live in LA and I’m in London, plus you have over 7000 followers!!!! I have 73 so far, which I mean if you even bother to notice someone as small as me, I do advertise your site and people in this very expensive, most of the time horrible dreary weather city!!! Like it, thank you
    Dee Kate

    1. Sherry

      Kate – what is your site? I would love to follow – especially if it is anything like this awesome Detoxinista site!! πŸ™‚

    2. Dee Kate Dorocant

      I’m no where near as awesome as your site!!!! I love health cooking, hence I follow your site. I only opened it last August. I teach children gymnastics in a private health club in London called Harbour Club & teach privately pilates/yoga fusion. I also am an authorised practioner & stockist of Environ skin care & nutrition care.
      Dee Kate

  4. Lisa

    Yum! This looks great! I tried coming up with something similar, but was having a few issues with the final product. Hopefully something can replace cashews since I’m intolerant sadly!

  5. Catherine

    Getting ready to try this. Why the soaking with the cashews this time and not with the Mac and cheese ( one of my favorites BTW)?

    1. Megan Post author

      The mac n’ cheese is simply an older recipe, and I didn’t soak my nuts and seeds very often back then. You are welcome to soak the cashews for both recipes! (It improves the flavor and makes them easier to blend.)

  6. Jennifer

    Hello! Love this recipe, can’t wait to make it for Superbowl! How far in advance can I make it and how long will it keep? Thanks!

    1. Megan Post author

      I’ve frozen this dip, and it thawed very well, so you could make it as far ahead in advance as you like! I’d guess it would keep about 3 to 4 days in the fridge, though.

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  9. Jen

    This is incredible!! I’ve been eyeing it since you posted it and finally made last night. We had it over a huge taco salad and then polished it off with tortilla chips. SO delicious. I’m prety sure I’ll be making this to every party and get together for the next 6 months. Thank you!!

    1. Megan Post author

      Nutritional yeast gives this dip a “cheesy” flavor, so without it, I’m afraid it will just taste like a cashew dip! Please let us know if you try it, though.

  10. Meg

    I was so excited to find this recipe that I made it the very next day! It was a hit!!!! It passed the taste test with my husband and friends (who are quite judgemental when I try to alter the junk foods that they love). Everyone loved it! Extra perk, my best friend’s husband has ciliacs disease and a dairy allergy…. He was pretty excited to have a cheese-less cheese dip that he can enjoy with everyone! I highly recommend this dish!!!!!

  11. Tiffany

    Just made this, and it is amazing!! My kids are tearing it up as I type. We did a double batch, and were wondering about how long this will stay good for. I am planning on using it in quite a few of our meals this week.

    1. Megan Post author

      Ours only lasts in the fridge for about 3 days in the fridge before it’s all gone, but I assume it would last maybe a couple days longer than that…

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  13. Kitty

    OMG – loved it. Had a friend who tried it, but must not have left it in the food processor long enough, because it had the consistancy of hummas, when I made with vita mix – was spot on!!

  14. Laura

    Hi Megan!
    Just wanted to let you know that ALL your recipes (that I’ve tried) are DELICIOUS! I was skeptical of this one, but it turned out great – I wouldn’t have known that it didn’t have cheese if I hadn’t have made it myself!

  15. Jennifer

    This queso is delectable! I made a veggie taco salad tonight with this on top! Thank you for all of the recipes!!! Your website has changed my life!

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  19. Gina

    Ok, can someone tell me some sort of approximate time for processing? I think when all was said and done I processed for a total of 11 minutes and it still looked nothing like your creamy concoction! It tasted fine, but it was very grainy, not smooth. I soaked the cashews for more than 4 hours too. Is the only answer that I need a better food processor?

    1. Amber

      Gina, I had better consistency when I used my blender as opposed to my food processor, which also turned out grainy. Try that next time!

  20. Kimberly


    Thank you! I just made this and couldn’t wait to add my three cents! I used my Vitamix and it was spot on like said in previous comments! I doubled the recipe, my husband doesn’t know it doesn’t contain processed cheese, let alone that it is made from cashews or nutritional yeast! OUR secret!

  21. Naomi

    I think I’ve seriously tried 10 different cashew “cheese” recipes, and this one by far blows them all out of the water. Thanks for the great recipe. Simple, fast and easy. Love it!

  22. Mindy

    What if one of the nuts I have been told not to eat is cashews… Do you have any other alternatives to making some of these recipes? Please let me know.. Thank you πŸ™‚

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  24. Diana

    I would just like to say that your recipe was awesome! I doctored mine up just a bit with more spices and some almond milk to thin it out, as I poured it over tortilla chips, and it came out amazing! Thank you again!

  25. daniela

    Hi megan,

    I made this queso dip and it looks like it did fermdnted and some of my guests didnt like the flavor after that, what did I do wrong??

  26. Stephanie

    You are a goddess!!! This is literally the thing I have been craving the most since I started Paleo 2 month ago. Thank you SO much for putting this recipe together. I’m excited to try it this weekend. πŸ™‚

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  28. Becky

    This looks wonderful! How long can it store in the fridge? I’m thinking of making it a day in advance, but didn’t know if it wouldn’t be as good.

    1. Megan Post author

      Yes, it definitely stores well, and I think the flavor is even better the next day. Just make sure you heat it up to thin-out the texture before serving.

      1. Becky

        Awesome! I made it, and!! My queso loving husband was shocked that there wasn’t any cheese in it (as was I). Big hit. Thank you for a great recipe! Love your site.

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  30. Erica

    Wondering…could I leave out the nutritionally yeast and have this still turn out yummy? Or is there something I could sub for the yeast? My son can’t have yeast and I was hoping to make this safe for him too!


  31. Janna

    I’m making this for the game today. We live in Denver, Go Broncos! After a very successful run with the cheesecake bars, I can’t wait! My husband has asked repeatedly for Queso since we’ve been together, and I can’t bring myself to do it! I’ll cross my fingers that this will satisfy him πŸ™‚

  32. Lisa Hutcheson

    I just made this for our Super Bowl evening and it is SO good! I have been GFCF for 4 years and have not had anything like queso for that long. Thank you for sharing!

  33. Lauren

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! Thank you for creating it. πŸ™‚ I was just curious if you make this using whole cashews or cashew pieces. I’ve made it a few times using whole raw cashews (and even my difficult to impress husband loves it) and just made it with raw cashew pieces for the first time. It doesn’t seem the same, so I’m wondering if the measurements should have been adjusted? It just seems less “cheesy.” Any thoughts? Thanks! πŸ™‚

  34. Sherry

    I’m allergic to cashews any suggestions of another type of nut besides cashews or peanuts. Do you think that maybe garbanzo beans might work? I think I might try it?

    1. Megan Post author

      I’ve made a similar cheese sauce using steamed potatoes, so garbanzo beans might work, too. Let us know how it turns out!

  35. KA

    I’ve heard of people subbing macadamia nuts in for sauce recipes that use cashews. You have to soak them just the same. You can also use almonds, but you have to have a very high powered blender like a vitamix.

    1. Megan Post author

      Many sources claim that nutritional yeast does not feed candida, because it’s deactivated.

  36. Stephanie

    You are a life saver. Being dairy intolerant and paleo anything cheesy is not an option. Unfortunately cheese is one of the best tasting foods on the planet. Thank you so much for giving me an alternative that won’t make me sick for days. This dip is truly delicious and you can’t even tell it’s not the real thing!!

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  38. AJ

    Hi Megan, you mention heating dip but is it actually served warm? Also, is the heat generated by Vitamix enough? Xx

    1. Megan Post author

      I usually serve it in a mini crock pot, which does warm it up, but if you blend it in the Vitamix long enough, that would generate heat, too.

  39. jill weinger

    Excellent recipe- took it to a party and it was gobbled up by all- thanks for your awesome site- has quickly become a favorite.

  40. Alesia

    Tried this today and it was really good. I made a mistake and got the tomatoes with a milder chile. I think I’ll actually go for the Ro-tel tomatoes next time. I am not a cook, so I only have a Ninja type food processor, so mine was a little gritty, but still quite tasty. I mixed it with the Creamy Spinach and Avocado dip. The combo is similar to something I used to get when I lived in Florida.

    1. Megan Post author

      The nutritional yeast is pretty key for a “cheesy” flavor, and I don’t know of anything that tastes like it (other than cheese). You could try to just leave it out, but it will definitely affect the resulting flavor.


    Few questions- regarding soaking nuts?
    soak in water? covered or uncovered? how much water?
    Also where do you buy the following?
    nutritional yeast

    Thank you,

    1. Megan Post author

      To soak nuts, you just cover them with water– no need to cover the bowl.

      You can find turmeric in the spice section of any grocery store. Nutritional yeast can be found in most natural grocers, or you can easily order it from Amazon.

  42. Rebekah

    I just made this last night and when I first stuck my finger and tasted it, I literally screamed,”Shut UP! Shut UP! Shut UP!” I could not believe how amazing this dip tasted! I love it! I took it to work to share and people were very inquisitive because they know I’ve been trying all kinds of new vegan/vegetarian recipes. But then, they tasted it … and loved it! I am loving all your recipes and so happy to have found this site!

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  47. Amber

    Coming from a Southern-raised Mexican food lover, ew. Not at all like the real thing. Nothing dairy-free that I’ve tried this far even comes close to real queso. πŸ™ Good try–cashews work great in your amazing coleslaw and cheesecake recipes; it just doesn’t work here. Thanks anyway.

  48. shanna

    This dip was very tasty but nothing at all like queso..I’m not sure if I did something wrong but the consistency was more like hummus..I kept having to add water because it was so thick and grainy. I ground up the cashews in the food processor…any tips on how to make this more cheesy would be much appreciated.

    1. Naomi

      Sounds like it might have needed even more time in the food processor, shanna — or perhaps, a longer pre-soak for the cashews? The amount of time they need to soak can vary depending on how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf.

    2. Billy

      I’m guessing you didn’t soak the cashews long enough or at all. I find an easy alternative is to steam the cashews for about an hour and a half. Works like a charm for me!

    1. Megan Post author

      I’m not sure, but you can always calculate any nutrition info you need using a free website like or

  49. Naomi

    Someone may have already said this, but this recipe makes an awesome kale chip mix-in, too — just stir it into the raw leaves, then oven-dry or dehydrate as usual. πŸ˜€

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  51. KatyG

    I just made this recipe yesterday, after seeing your post with the sweet potato version. Since I can tolerate cashews I went for this one and it was AMAZING! I brought it to my parent’s house as a snack and you wouldn’t have known there was no cheese in it…even my Dad was surprised. I finished the leftovers today and I’m still craving it. WOW!! This will be my new go-to for a party. Love it! I’m sending links to my Mom so she can try out some recipes. I was looking at the one for the spaghetti squash casserole…wow, that sounds great too. I just started eating vegan, so we’ll have to see about the cheese and yogurt, but a little won’t hurt. I just need to find the goat variety. : )

    1. Baylie

      I used ground mustard seed instead of turmeric when I made this and it was absolutely fabulous, nonetheless… I also used lime juice instead of lemon… I just went with what I had on hand.

  52. Kira

    I am not vegetarian or vegan but I do like to eat vegetarian some days of the week. I am also pretty skeptical of “mock” meat/cheese foods. However, I made this today after soaking my cashews overnight and it was delicious over my veggie burger. A little grainy by itself (I used a food processor as I do not have a vitamixer) but the flavor is definitely there! Would be great with black bean loaded nachos!

    1. Megan Post author

      No, I think the other citrus fruits would negatively affect the flavor. Maybe try a small dash of vinegar, instead?

    2. Megan Post author

      No, I think the other citrus fruits would negatively affect the flavor. Maybe try a small dash of vinegar, instead? Or maybe just extra salt?

  53. Baylie


    WOW!!! I have been dairy free for going on 2 years… Actually, gluten, dairy, and soy free… And my biggest craving is always cheese. You have hit it right on the money, girlfriend! I am so glad I found your website!!! I have a 2 month old son and we are currently working out even more intolerances than previously mentioned. The first recipe I tried from your site was the Raw, Date-Sweetened Caramel Dip. I liked it so much that I made it twice in one week… and made it a double batch the second time! Then I came across this recipe and made it last night. I have a potluck to attend tomorrow and I will be making more of this goodness as well as some of your Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies (I can’t wait to try them!) There are so many good resources on your site. I cannot rave about you enough!


  54. chris2april

    WOW! And my vegan MIL loved it too! She’s so amused that many of the things we enjoy in our Paleo lifestyle are also ones she can enjoy in her vegan lifestyle. Thank you!!!!!

  55. Leslie

    This is my go-to vegan queso recipe (especially since my husband demands it quite often!). I love that you don’t have to add corn starch and cook to thicken it. I’ve used it as the base for macaroni and cheese and on nachos as well.

    My minor revision is that I REALLY squeeze all the liquid out of the can of tomatoes and only use that as the liquid to blend (no water). I figure there is plenty of liquid in the can and I want to make sure that when I add the tomatoes in the end, it doesn’t make the queso too runny. I’ve skipped the lemon juice when I don’t have a lemon on hand and it still tastes great.

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  57. Monica

    I really enjoyed this, and so did my husband! However I took it to a New Years Eve party and no one was convinced this was actual queso lol! I think maybe if I had said its spicy cashew dip or something. Thank you for the recipe and I will make it again for my husband and me!

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  63. Erin

    This is, and forever will be, my absolute favorite queso dip!! Slight changes I’ve made include doubling the cashews and keep the rest the same (too much nutritional yeast lends a chalky texture in my humble opinion) and blend up the tomatoes just a tad because I’m not the biggest fan of the things. Even the boyfriend loves it, and he’s relatively difficult to please when it comes to my allergy-sensitive “concoctions” in the kitchen, he raves to his family about it (big ol’ win!!)!

  64. Anne

    I made this a few days ago and it was amazing!!! I can’t believe how delicious. I just ran out and need to make more. Also I just made your Everyday Basil Dressing, and even though I’m not always a big fan of basil, I loved this dressing– so fresh and clean tasting!

  65. Don

    Made this today. It was delicious. Quick and easy to make too once the cashews are soaked. I soaked for two hours only and it worked just fine. I added some hot sauce. Yummy.

  66. Doug

    Hi, I’m from UK and we don’t have cans of tomato and green chili mixed together (at least not where I’m from). Could you estimate the proportions please so I could make my own version? Any additional tips would be welcome. Thanks

  67. Yochi

    This is my go to for parties. I make a quadruple batch (which my husband insists should just be called a batch, bc it’s necessary to make that much) with a lb of cashews, and it always gets gobbled up. Although I do save a bit for cheesey potatoes for breakfast the next day. Anyone who says this isn’t like actual queso isn’t doing something right. It’s better than queso, it’s full of real food and its good for you!!! <3 thanks so much. (i generally soak cashews 8+ hours and have a vitamix. I also use rotel as the tomato)

  68. Annie

    I can’t wait to try this! We make rotel at Thanksgiving every year for the appetizer table. And I am so excited to have something that won’t make me feel sick!

  69. Jennifer

    This is great! I was a little skeptical, because I figured it wouldn’t taste like real queso dip (and it doesn’t, but it also doesn’t give me gas, so that’s a plus), but it tasted soooo good with these paleo nachos I made. I was very pleased!

  70. Mary

    Is there a good substitute for cashews? I really want to try this and we are looking to avoid wheat, dairy and cashews; this recipe is so close!

  71. Lisa

    This dip is so delicious! And easy to make. And healthy. What more can you ask for. I doubled cashews and kept everything else mostly the same. I may have increased water and nutritional yeast a bit. I have a Vitamix and it became creamy in seconds. I think having the right blender is key to creating the right consistency. Thank you!

  72. Shane

    This dips is amazing. If you’re getting hummus consistency or something other than cheese sauce, more than likely it is user era. We make this all the time and it is super creamy. Add more liquid to the blender if needed.

  73. Patrice

    I followed this recipe to a T and it turned out perfectly. I just made this recipe and it is delicious. The creamy texture and the spicy flavor is going to enhance many of my southwestern dishes. Thanks Megan, I scored brownie points with my vegan daughter. A special shout out to my friend Amy who got me hooked on to Detoxinista. Thanks to this website I am eating healthier and enjoying guilt free food.


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