An easy, dairy-free Vegan Cashew Queso recipe! It's so silky, creamy, and made with simple, healthy ingredients. Serve it warm as a chip dip or spooned on your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes. (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
This vegan Cashew Queso recipe is deliciously silky, creamy, and completely dairy-free!
It's easy to assemble with just a few simple, healthy ingredients. (And highly customizable!)
Plus it's rich in plant-based protein, fiber, iron, and contains no cholesterol.
Enjoy it as a chip dip, side dish, appetizer, or creamy sauce to spoon over your baked potatoes, nachos, or Tex-Mex dishes.
Ingredients for Cashew Queso
For this recipe you will blend in a high-speed blender or small food processor:
- Raw cashews: These are naturally buttery and creamy so they're a great base for the sauce. You will need one cup cashews for this recipe. I use organic when possible. We'll use my simple method to "quick soak" the cashews to achieve a creamier texture. (But feel free to soak them for several hours beforehand if desired.)
- Diced green chiles: These usually come in a small 4-ounce can or jar, and you can choose between mild or medium depending on your desired spice level. Simply omit if you can't find them or don't care for them. But I love including them for that classic chili con queso taste.
- Nutritional yeast: This is what adds the savory, cheesy flavor.
- Fresh lemon juice: Or you can substitute lime juice instead.
- Onion powder: Be sure your pantry spices are fresh (not expired) for best flavor.
- Garlic powder: Or you can change up the flavor with your own favorite spices like chili powder, ground cumin, taco seasoning, etc. A small amount of ground turmeric can help achieve a yellow color if desired.
- Smoked paprika
- Salt: I use fine grain salt for this recipe. You can also include black pepper.
- Water: This is used to help blend the sauce. Adjust the amount to create a thicker or thinner consistency as desired. You could also use vegetable broth or plain & unsweetened dairy-free milk instead.
Blender note: I use a small NutriBullet blender for this recipe. It blends the cashews wonderfully into a silky, creamy sauce. (I used to have a Ninja blender that did not work nearly as well.)
I've made so many variations of this queso dip! It's highly flexible. A few ideas include:
Make it spicy: Add chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, jalapeno, a pinch of red cayenne pepper, or hot sauce to taste.
Make it "meaty": For a heartier cheese sauce, add your favorite vegan ground beef crumbles. Cook these separately according to package instructions, then stir into the finished queso mixture right before serving.
Other add-ins: Before serving, stir in cooked black beans, diced roasted red bell pepper, fresh red peppers, diced tomato, salsa, fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice, etc.
How to Warm
In the microwave: You can serve this vegan queso cheese at room temperature, however we prefer ours warmed up. Simply place desired amount in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in small increments, stirring often.
On the stovetop: Pour queso in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat. Let heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until warmed through. It will slightly thicken as it heats.
In the oven: Preheat oven to 350°F or 176°C. Then pour queso into an oven-safe dish (covered) and heat for about 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
This vegan cheese sauce is incredibly versatile in ways you can enjoy it. A few ideas include:
- A dip with tortilla chips
- Drizzled over tacos, fajitas, burritos
- In burrito bowls or rice bowls
- On nachos
- Over baked potatoes
- With steamed vegetables
- In layered bean dips
Garnish it! For a fancier presentation, top your dip with fresh chopped cilantro, green onions, salsa, diced tomatoes or red bell pepper before serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We find it keeps for about 4 days. Stir again before serving.
Vegan Cashew Queso (Oil-Free!)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup - 2/3 cup water (more/less for desired thickness)
- 4 oz. can diced green chiles (optional)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (or lime juice)
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Soak the cashews: In a heat-safe bowl, cover the raw cashews with hot water (just under boiling) until they are submerged. Set aside and let sit for about 10 minutes. This makes them easier to blend.*
- Drain and rinse cashews. Add all ingredients to a small high-speed blender. (I use a NutriBullet.)
- Blend for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Adjust flavor, liquid, and salt as desired.
Warm it up (optional):
- In the microwave: Place desired amount in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in small increments, stirring often.
- On the stovetop: Pour prepared queso in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat. Let heat for about 5-10 minutes or until warmed through. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning. It will slightly thicken as it heats.
- In the oven: Preheat oven to 350°F / 176°C. Pour queso in a small oven-safe dish (covered) and heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
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