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!
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.