Vegan Queso is naturally dairy-free and tastes like the popular dip made with melted Velveeta and Ro-Tel tomatoes. You can whip it up in just minutes for an easy appetizer!
Why You’ll Love It
It’s delicious. If you need a dairy-free alternative, this easy vegan queso dip tastes a better than any of the store-bought options. My taste testers couldn’t even tell that it wasn’t made with cheese! (But be sure to let others know that it’s made with cashews, just in case of nut allergies.)
It’s quick to prepare. Just toss a few ingredients into a blender to make the cheese sauce, then stir in the diced tomatoes with green chilies. It’s ready to eat in less than 10 minutes, and you can warm it up just like real queso!
It’s multipurpose. This queso recipe makes a delicious appetizer dip, but you can also serve it over tortilla chips to make dairy-free nachos, or drizzle it over a burrito bowl, tacos, quesadillas, and more.
It’s easy to customize. If you don’t have diced tomatoes with green chilies, you can stir in a cup of prepared salsa instead. Use red or green salsa, depending on your preference! If you don’t love chunks of tomatoes in your queso, you can also briefly blend those in, for more of a pulverized texture. See the FAQ below for more substitution ideas.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Raw cashews provide creaminess in this recipe, without adding a strong roasted flavor, but you can use any variety you have on hand. If you don’t have a powerful blender, I recommend soaking the cashews in the hot water for at least 15 minutes before blender, to help them soften up.
If you want to add extra spices to your queso, feel free to add a pinch of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, or cumin, for more of a taco seasoning. (A tiny pinch of cayenne pepper will help add spice, if you like a little heat.)
How to Make The Best Vegan Queso
Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with the 6 tablespoons hot water to help them soften up. This step is optional if you have a high-speed blender, but it can help them break down faster.
While you wait, measure the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric (for color), and salt, and add them to the blender. Open the can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and drain their juices directly into the blender, to help add more flavorful liquid for blending.
Then, add the cashews and their soaking water to the blender, and blend until the mixture is totally smooth, about 60 to 90 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender as needed.
Pour the blended cheese mixture into a bowl, and stir in the diced tomatoes with green chiles. You can adjust any flavoring to taste, adding more salt or spices, as you like.
3. Warm it up.
You can serve this dip at room temperature if you like, but it tastes even more authentic when you warm it up. Transfer the dip to a mini crockpot if you have one, to keep it warm for serving at a party, or you can quickly warm it up on the stove top using medium-low heat.
Keep in mind that this cashew cheese sauce will thicken when heated, so keep the heat low, and add a splash of water to help thin it out again, if needed.
Leftover queso can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It will thicken when chilled, so let it come to room temperature again before serving, or warm it up with an extra splash of water to help thin out the texture. (The microwave may be another quick reheating option, but I haven’t tested that yet!)
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven’t tested an alternative to using cashews yet, but readers have reported using macadamia nuts and blanched almonds with success. Hemp hearts make a great alternative to cashews in my vegan ranch dressing recipe, so they might work here, as well.
Yes, of course! The turmeric in this recipe doesn’t add much flavor, just a bright yellow color to make it more cheese-like, but you can use paprika instead for more of a reddish color. If you don’t have diced tomatoes on hand, I also love making more of a plain nacho cheese sauce using pickled jalapeños for flavor.
Try Sweet Potato Queso instead!
Looking for more dairy-free dips? Try my creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip, Vegan 7-Layer Dip, and Bean Dip for more delicious options.
Vegan Cashew Queso
- 1 cup raw cashews , soaked for up to 4 hours and drained
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with the 6 tablespoons hot water to help them soften up. This step is optional if you have a high-speed blender, but it can help them break down faster.
- While you wait, measure the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric (for color), and salt, and add them to the blender. Open the can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and drain their juices directly into the blender, to help add more flavorful liquid for blending.
- Add in the cashews and their soaking water to the blender, and blend until the mixture is totally smooth, about 60 to 90 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the blender as needed, and add an extra splash of water to help facilitate blending, if you need to.
- Transfer the cheese mixture to a large bowl, then stir in the can of diced tomatoes and green chilies. 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. (Note: The sauce will thicken as it warms up, so feel free to add an extra splash of water, as needed to thin it out again.)
- Leftover queso can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It will thicken when chilled, so let it come to room temperature before serving, or warm it up with an extra splash of water to thin out the texture again.
If you try this vegan queso recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.
Questions and Reviews
Oh man, that sounds VERY tasty.
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!
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!!!
um, hello, you are a genius!!
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
Kate – what is your site? I would love to follow – especially if it is anything like this awesome Detoxinista site!! 🙂
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.
That sounds awesome, Dee Kate! Keep up the great work! 🙂
You obviously are a big company, where as I am a one man band!!! I shall continue to follow your site
It’s flattering that you think I’m a big company! I’m just a one man band, too. 😉
I was a huge cheese-aholic. I’m always impressed at how a little cashew and nutritional yeast can satisfy that old craving!
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!
Wow this sounds awesome and totally something I could use in different recipes!
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
I only watch the Super Bowl for the food and company. 🙂 This will be at our party, too!
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)?
I also wanted to know about this!
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.)
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!
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.
Just made this today. It’s amazing!! Can’t believe how authentic it tastes. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe.
Megan, I have a question, will it have the same result or similar taste if I sub chick peas for cashews?
Hmmm… I have no idea. Please let us know if you try it!
Thanks Megan, I will. I really like your website. I have been following you since Aug 2011. It’s been a blessing.
Hi Ester. Did you replace the cashews with chick peas? I’m thinking of trying it and curious to know how it turned out.
I made this and it was amazing. Every bit as good as the Trader Joe’s variety. Instead of cashews next time, o mat swap them with white cannelloni beans. I bet it would retain the same creaminess without all the fat.
Have you tried it with the white beans yet?
Just made this and it’s completely great. It may just become my go-to party snack. Thank you!
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!!
I don’t have nutritional yeast on hand….is this ingredient absolutely vital? This looks so delicious!!
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.
the Nutritional yeast what is that and how healthy is it??
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that provides a cheesy/nutty flavor to dishes. It’s often used as a source of protein and B vitamins for vegans and vegetarians. You can read more about it here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/263528-what-are-the-benefits-of-nutritional-yeast-flakes/
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!!!!!
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.
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…
Just made this. Delicious…thank you!!!!
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!!
Wow!!! this is easy and amazing!!! Thank you so much…I love it 🙂
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!
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!
Such a great recipe! I was instantly in love with it and am looking forward to having it again. Thank you!!
Absolutely amazing, cannot wait to share with my dairy-free FIL.
3 words. A! Maze! Ing!
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?
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!
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!
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!
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!!
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 🙂
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!
I cant eat tomatoes due to allergies. ..sucks I know! What can I substitute?? I am craving queso!!
I’m so excited to make this! I have the cashews soaking right now. would three hours of soaking be okay?
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??
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
I have a very similar queso recipe made from cashews that I make and we LOVE it!!! I’ll have to try your recipe, you can never too many queso recipes 🙂
I don’t have any turemic. Will it effect the taste of the dip if I leave it out.
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 🙂
My girlfriend and I just finished making the queso dip. Fantastic! Great recipe…thank you.
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!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! Thank you for creating it. 🙂 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! 🙂
Thought you’d like to know I was inspired by this recipe. So, I created a version of my own.
Best part? I referenced this post in mine. Hopefully some of my fans discover you. 🙂
Oh yeah, the permalink: http://lifeisnoyoke.com/cashew-queso/. Enjoy!
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?
I’ve made a similar cheese sauce using steamed potatoes, so garbanzo beans might work, too. Let us know how it turns out!
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.