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.)

4.74 from 50 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!

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Comments

Isha

Made this for Super Bowl today! Was a total hit!!
This is now my got to queso!!! πŸ˜‰

Amy

Can you have nutritional yeast if you have Candida?

    Rachel

    This is inactivated Saccharomyces which is an entirely different organism from Candida. Only related in that they’re both fungi. You’ll be fine.

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!

laurie

Can I use cashew butter..it’s already creamy

Lourdes

Hi!
Do you know if the yeast used in this recipe is ok when dealing with candida?
Thank you <3

    Rachel

    This is inactivated Saccharomyces which is an entirely different organism from Candida. Only related in that they’re both fungi. You’ll be fine.

Taylor

I bet this would be amazing poured over roasted vegetables or a baked potato…!

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.

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!!!!!

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!

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Lindsey

Can I replace the lemon juice with anything but lime? Orange juice or citric acid perhaps?

    Megan

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

    Megan

    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?

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!

Simone

Sounds really good. Do you need the Tumeric? It doesn’t agree with me.

    Megan

    Nope, you can definitely leave it out!

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. : )

    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.

Rachel @ Rachel's Nourishing Kitchen

You did it again, Megan! My hubby and I love your recipes, and I wrote a blog post about trying this queso dip the other day and how much we liked it! πŸ™‚ Here’s the post! http://rachelsnourishingkitchen.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/elevate-your-tailgate-queso-dip-thats-good-for-you-dairy-free/

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˜€

Leslie

do you know the fat content of this recipe? Curious because of the cashews. Sounds like an amazing “trick” dip!

    Megan

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

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.

    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.

    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!

kim

do you have to use tomatoes from a can?

    Megan

    A bet a homemade salsa would work well, too!

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.

Natasha

This was AMAZING!!! Everyone devoured it!!! Sooo good! Thank you!!!

Ivalu

This is legit stuff! Awesome! πŸ™‚

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!

KIMBERLY BERNARDO

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

Thank you,
Kimberly

    Megan

    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.

Bethany

Do you have a suggestion to substitute the nutritional yeast? I do not have that on hand.

Thank you

    Megan

    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.

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.
Yum.

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.

AJ

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

    Megan

    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.

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!!

Kor

Thanks.

Kor

Is nutritional yeast ok to use if you have candida?

    Megan

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

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.

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?

    Megan

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

Lenny

Hi Megan,

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. πŸ™‚

Good things,
Lenny

Oh yeah, the permalink: http://lifeisnoyoke.com/cashew-queso/. Enjoy!

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™‚

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!

Jeff

My girlfriend and I just finished making the queso dip. Fantastic! Great recipe…thank you.

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™‚

Lori

I don’t have any turemic. Will it effect the taste of the dip if I leave it out.

Cassidy @ Cassidy's Craveable Creations

Hi Megan!!!

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 πŸ™‚

-Cassidy

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