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The BEST Cashew Queso (vegan & dairy-free)

This easy vegan queso is naturally dairy-free and tastes like the popular dip made with Velveeta and Ro-Tel tomatoes. It’s surprisingly authentic, and is the BEST dairy-free vegan cheese sauce I’ve tasted.

vegan queso recipe

Vegan Cheese Made with Cashews

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 and magnesium. 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.

bowl of cashews, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice

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How to Make Vegan Queso

To make this easy queso, all you need is a blender. I recommend soaking your cashews ahead of time if you have a standard blender, but if you have a high-speed one (like my Vitamix) you can even skip that for a faster dip.

I like to add turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its neon-orange coloring, but you’re welcome to leave it out if you’d prefer. (It doesn’t add much to the overall flavor)

stirring rotel into vegan queso

What is Nutritional Yeast?

If you’re not familiar with nutritional yeast, it’s a deactivated yeast that contains B-complex vitamins and provides a “cheesy” flavor to vegan dishes. Because it’s deactivated it’s even considered safe for those on a candida diet. (You can read this article from Kimberly Snyder for more on nutritional yeast, if you’re interested.)

4.76 from 45 votes
vegan queso recipe
Vegan Cashew Queso
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This is the BEST vegan queso recipe I've ever tried! Made with nutritional yeast and lemon juice, it comes together in just minutes for an easy cashew cheese sauce.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cashews, cheese, dip, vegan
Servings: 10
Calories: 86 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews , soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
  • 1/4 cup water (plus more, if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 14 oz . can diced tomatoes with green chiles
Instructions
  1. In a high-speed blender, or food processor, combine the cashews, water, salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and 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, adding a tablespoon or two more water, if needed for blending. Transfer the cheese mixture to a large bowl, then stir in the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles.

  3. 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.

Recipe Video

Per 1/4 cup: Calories: 86, Fat: 5g, Carbohydrates: 6g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 3g

Recipe Notes:

  • I think this recipe tastes the most authentic when using raw cashews, but readers have also reported success using macadamia nuts and blanched almonds. Feel free to experiment as you like!
  • For a nut-free vegan queso recipe, try my Sweet Potato Queso.
  • You can swap a cup of prepared salsa for the diced tomatoes with green chiles, if needed.

Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to use cashews? You should try my Cashew Cheesecake if you haven’t– it packs a sneaky serving of veggies, and no one can ever tell!

This is the BEST vegan queso recipe I've ever tried! Made with nutritional yeast and lemon juice, it comes together in just minutes for an easy cashew cheese sauce. #vegan #cashews #cheesesauce #paleo #dairyfree #soyfree #glutenfree

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Comments

Rande McDaniel @ The Vegetable Centric Kitchen

Oh man, that sounds VERY tasty.

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!

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!!!

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

    Sherry

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

    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

      Megan

      That sounds awesome, Dee Kate! Keep up the great work! 🙂

      Dee Kate

      You obviously are a big company, where as I am a one man band!!! I shall continue to follow your site
      Dee Kate

        Megan

        It’s flattering that you think I’m a big company! I’m just a one man band, too. 😉

        Dee Kate

        Well done!!!!
        Dee Kate

Red Deception

I was a huge cheese-aholic. I’m always impressed at how a little cashew and nutritional yeast can satisfy that old craving!

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!

Penny O

Will try.

Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet

Wow this sounds awesome and totally something I could use in different recipes!

a farmer in the dell

Yum! I can’t wait to make this!! sounds like a perfect dip for the Super Bowl (however, I am not much of a Super Bowl watcher) This dip will get me to a party though! yum

Megan

I only watch the Super Bowl for the food and company. 🙂 This will be at our party, too!

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)?

    Mary

    I also wanted to know about this!

    Megan

    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.)

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!

    Megan

    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.

Kristen @ The Balanced Bowl

Just made this today. It’s amazing!! Can’t believe how authentic it tastes. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe.

Ester

Megan, I have a question, will it have the same result or similar taste if I sub chick peas for cashews?

    Megan

    Hmmm… I have no idea. Please let us know if you try it!

      Ester

      Thanks Megan, I will. I really like your website. I have been following you since Aug 2011. It’s been a blessing.

        Deb

        Hi Ester. Did you replace the cashews with chick peas? I’m thinking of trying it and curious to know how it turned out.

Claire

Just made this and it’s completely great. It may just become my go-to party snack. Thank you!

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!!

Bobbi Kenow

I don’t have nutritional yeast on hand….is this ingredient absolutely vital? This looks so delicious!!

    Megan

    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.

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!!!!!

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.

    Megan

    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…

Robynn

Just made this. Delicious…thank you!!!!

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!!

Sandra

Wow!!! this is easy and amazing!!! Thank you so much…I love it 🙂

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!

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!

Molly

Such a great recipe! I was instantly in love with it and am looking forward to having it again. Thank you!!

Meigen

Absolutely amazing, cannot wait to share with my dairy-free FIL.

Radonna

3 words. A! Maze! Ing!

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?

    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!

Kimberly

Megan,

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!

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!

Living Outside of the Box

I still haven’t told my skeptical hubby what’s in this wonderful dip…and he hasn’t asked! He just eats away and we all enjoy it! Thank you!!

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 🙂

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!
D-

melanie

I cant eat tomatoes due to allergies. ..sucks I know! What can I substitute?? I am craving queso!!

melissa

I’m so excited to make this! I have the cashews soaking right now. would three hours of soaking be okay?

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??

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. 🙂

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.

    Megan

    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.

      Becky

      Awesome! I made it, and it.is.amazing!! 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.

Aly

I am going to make this for Christmas it looks so good but I was wondering if adding white miso would be good or bad…

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!

Thanks.

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