Ok, I'm obsessed with Mexican flavors. I borderline want to carry around cumin and chili powder and salsa around with me, everywhere I go. But I'm not that crazy. This recipe was totally not what I was planning to post today, as I specifically created it as a quick cheese sauce to go with another recipe that a reader specifically requested, which is this Big Time Vegan Mexican Bowl. However, after whipping this up and tasting it, both my hubby and I agreed, it needed it's own post. I didn't want it to not get it's fair share of attention, haha. Plus, can you believe this is my first time ever posting a cashew cheese?
On a side note, aren't my hand models the cutest?! 🙂 Hubby and daughter getting in on the dip action.
As you will see, this vegan cheese is incredibly easy, as all my recipes are, but this one is like 10 minutes! Just 6 ingredients, total, including salt & water! I wanted this cheese to have a strong Mexican flavor, so a good dose of cumin and salsa is added to a base of cashews, water, nutritional yeast and salt. I typically am not a fan of too many cashews in a cheese sauce, but there is enough liquid added, so it stays creamy and doesn't get that nasty texture. It is then cooked down to a nice, smooth and creamy, thickened consistency. If you are allergic to cashews, don't worry, I tested a nut-free version made with tahini for you too! I would say though, if you hate tahini, it may not be for you. We loved it, not as much as the cashew version, but it does have a slight tahini flavor, so keep that in mind. If you are avoiding fat altogether, then be sure to try my super popular Fat-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce. It was my most popular recipe last year and uses no nuts or seeds. I get tagged basically daily on Instagram from you guys making it, so check it out. You could always add some cumin, chili powder, etc. to give it a Mexican flavor.
The combo of the nutritional yeast and the acidity and spices from the salsa give an amazing cheese flavor and spiciness. Some people like nutritional yeast, most do, but there are a few that don't. I personally love it. In fact, I don't think things taste very cheesy without it, so it's a must for me in cheese sauces. I think it's even more important for a Mexican flavor, like with this Easy Vegan Mexican Cheese Sauce.
It's truly shocking how darn delicious this is, considering how simple it is. It's creamy, smooth and the perfect dip consistency. I had a couple of non-vegan friends try it and it won over big time! Give it a try. It will be great on tacos, burritos, as a dip, etc. But I created it for the recipe that is coming on Thursday, so stay tuned!
If you are looking for a fat-free cheese sauce, then be sure to check out my super popular Fat-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce made from potatoes and zucchini. It was the #1 recipe for 2015!
I really hope you all love this Easy Vegan Mexican Cheese Sauce. Please be sure to leave me feedback below after you make it and star rate the recipe! I love hearing from you all, it brightens my day so much! You can also tag me on Instagram using my tag #thevegan8!
- ¾ cup raw cashews (108 g, soaked overnight in water if you don't have a high-powered blender)
- ¾ cup salsa (I used Trader Joes medium heat, this makes it spicy, if you don't want it too spicy, use a mild salsa)
- ¾ cup water
- 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast (36 g, I use this brand, which is milder/better flavor & non-fortified, no nasty vitamin taste)
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin (If you are unsure, start out with 2, blend and taste. I used the FULL 3 teaspoons and absolutely loved the smoky taste, but start with less if you like)
- ½ teaspoon + 1/16 teaspoon fine sea salt (weird amount, but what I found to be just right)
- Note: I tested two versions. This one with cashews and another with tahini. If you are allergic to cashews, then you can make this with tahini! All the ingredients remain the same except instead of cashews, use 6-8 tablespoons smooth tahini, to taste. I preferred the cashew version, which is why it's posted, but the tahini is still good. Just please keep in mind that it will have a tahini flavor, but is masked pretty well with the salsa, but it's not quite as smooth as the cashews either. So, only use the tahini if allergic to cashews.
- First, you will need to soak your cashews if you don't have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix. Soak the cashews in a bowl filled with water overnight or 8 hours, drain and rinse and proceed.
- Add everything to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add any more salt if desired. I found the amount to be just perfect, based on the acidity that came from my salsa, but you may need to adjust.
- Add the sauce to a small pot and turn the heat to low. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, just until it's thickened up some. You will notice it thickening. Whisk occasionally along the sides, so it doesn't stick too much. Don't really walk away while cooking it, as it cooks quickly. Don't worry if it sticks a little, you can always smooth it back out. It's important to cook it on low heat because if it's too high, the cheese will get too thick and turn crusty. About 5 minutes should do it. The tahini version will take a bit longer to thicken up. The color will darken some after cooking, to a more true cheesy color. Pour in a serving bowl and give it a good stir to smooth out. Pour extra salsa on top if using as a dip, if desired. Mine was spicy, so if yours is mild, it's a great idea to add a little extra salsa on top and it not be too hot. Serve immediately with chips, over tacos, burritos, etc.
- Store in the fridge. It will thicken as it sits in the fridge, so give it a good stir and thin out a little with water if desired (mine didn't need it), but it stays really creamy and smooth. Reheat on low.