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

Elizabeth

I just think every cashew / cheese recipe tastes so much better without the nutritional yeast. I don’t mind it sprinkled on vegan Chilli, but if you’ve never tried this recipe without the yeast give it a try! It is always the hit of any gathering and I have people request it from me time and time again. I mix raw cashew and a great salsa in the vitamix and presto!

Shawn

Made this for Super Bowl and couldn’t have been happier with it !!! Delish!!!

Erica Manthe

I just made this for our Super Bowl party this afternoon. It’s very good. But I will be honest, after just moving to Austin Texas I don’t think this compares to real queso. However, I could eat this all day knowing that it is much better for me. And just a tip, I liked it better before the Tumeric was added.

Ashley

I’m new to healthy eating (my son has several allergies and I’m breastfeeding). Can you clarify what kind of cashews to buy? Are raw cashews like those bought from cans at the grocery store?
Thanks!

ManDy

What kind of nutritional yeast do you use? No matter how many times I try it, I just don’t like it. Some people say that unfortified tastes better, but I can’t find it anywhere.

Kim

Okay, now this sounds wonderful for my super bowl party. Shhh tell no one and I know they will all love it…

Sue b honey

Excellent! Have made this twice now. I have two questions:

How do you keep it from burning in the mini-crockpot? Mine is new but seems to get to hot. Stirring often isn’t enough.

Also, has anyone found themselves sensitive to nutritional yeast? I may have ate way too much this time anyway, but am wondering if I could be intolerant of the yeast.

Thank you for this wonderful recipe and website!

Michelle

This tastes just like Siete brand cashew cheese and soooo easy to make! Thanks Megan for posting this recipe! I’ll never pay $6 for the store-bought stuff again. It’s also a great, much tastier, alternative to shredded nut cheese for taco Tuesday!

Dawn

I made this last evening using salsa instead of the canned tomatoes and it was EXCELLENT. Love your blog — so inventive!!!

Rachel

I stumbled upon this recipe years ago, and it has become a literal staple at my house. Everyone who has tried it loves it to death. I felt it only eightto write out a big THANK YOU comment to express just how much I and my family love this queso! Thanks, Megan! You rock! 😊

Camile

Do you think if I leave the to tomato out of the Cashew Queso recipe, it will still taste ok and have the right consistency? I’d like to make it for a get together this week but I can’t have tomatoes. 😢

Kylie B

add scallions and jalapeño (i pickle my own) amazing!

Becca

Is the serving half a cup?

    Megan Gilmore

    I think a serving is a little closer to 1/3 cup– 2 1/2 cups divided by 8 servings = .3125. Hope that helps!

Amy Stafford

I just made this for my daughter, who is GF/DF and has been missing cheesy Mexican dishes. She loved it, and it was very easy to make. I made some modifications for my daughter: I did a quick soak on the cashews rather than soaking them overnight; I only added a tablespoon of lemon juice, since my daughter is sensitive to citrus; and I used a can of organic roasted tomatoes/chiles, which I pureed in the blender with the rest of the queso, because my daughter doesn’t like the texture of the vegetables with the queso. Thank you for a fabulous recipe. She is looking forward to trying it with all sorts of foods.

R

Umm … I literally had to put this into a Tupperware, seal the lid, and immediately throw it away because of how absolutely nauseous the smell was.

I DID have a taste against my better judgement and it made me gag. Please don’t attack me because of my contrary opinion. I followed the recipe perfectly and used the highest quality ingredients – preparing it in my Vitamix.

    Megan Gilmore

    Is it possible that you used Brewer’s Yeast instead of Nutrition Yeast? That would make me gag for sure! I serve this dip at parties all the time, so I’m not sure where else it could go wrong!

Sara

So so good! I’ve tried them all and this is definitely the best.

Audrey Galea

any alternatives for cashews as im allergist to them

Jacci Chambers

I have made this several times and shared the recipe with friends. Queso and chips are my absolute favorite and this satisfies my cravings for “cheesy” goodness.

Thanks so much!

Dina

Im looking for a vegan sauce for my enchiladas, can this sauce be warm up?it wont brake up with the heat ?

    Jacci Chambers

    it warms well. the edges my become dry so just stir it up after heating and then top it over your enchiladas!

Peggy

I tried 3xs MAKING this and finally got it at best! 2 other times my fault. But this time I soaked drained and dried. Deliciius and big hit!!

Meri

Omg THIS IS SO DELICIOUS!!!

Karen Knox

recently turned vegan (trying but it’s a bit difficult). i had already given up meat, but not dairy products. i’ve been having issues with my tummy and doc said I need to stay off dairy and fried foods. guess this is as good a time as any to go vegan. 🙂

Christie

Hi, Megan!
I made this dip today and it is super yummy (even though I accidentally blended in the tomatoes and green chilies and bought a smaller can by mistake).
Both my roommate and I were skeptical at first because of a vegan French onion dip recipe I had tried with cashews in the past. I’m vegan and she isn’t, but we both will be having this again!
Thank you for sharing! I hope you are having an amazing day. 🙂

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.

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.

Sarah

Love, love, love!!! I’m loving every recipe! Thank you so much for sharing these!

Tonicarol

So amazing! You never disappoint!

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!

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!

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!

Kimberly

Do you use the water the nuts are soaked in?

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!

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)

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

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.

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!

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!!)!

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