Best Vegan Queso

Best Vegan Queso

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, the "best" huh? That word seems to get thrown around a lot on blogs, I know, lol. But, it's all your fault, not mine. You see, this recipe is a variation of my cheese sauce from my Cheesy Mexican Tortilla Bake, but on steroids. I've had probably hundreds tell me it is the "best I've ever had since going vegan", so I only named it that because I and you all seem to feel that way, k? Hahaha. But guess what, it is even better because I adapted it to be queso now.

In all seriousness, it really is my favorite vegan queso. It is so good that it went over as a big hit with all of my non-vegan guests at my Christmas party. I even had a couple of them say "I'd eat this over regular queso any day"...especially when you look at how much more healthy my version is, yet so rich and decadent.

Pictured with my oil-free chips. See directions below how to make. I originally shared how to make these in my Mexican Bowls post, but have added brushed lemon juice this time. Yum.

Now, this version compared to my original from the tortilla bake is that it is created to be a cheese dip. That cheese was a runnier sauce meant to be baked with other ingredients. While incredibly delicious, it is not quite as thick or bold enough on it's own as a dip. So, to get it there, I made it more tangy by adding vinegar, omitted all the water, decreased the cumin, added green chiles, tomatoes and jalapenos (optional). Additionally, it is heated over the stove, so it becomes thicker, richer, warm and well, cheesy! See, so it needed it's own post because it was changed into a newer/different version. I dare you to serve it at your next NON-vegan gathering.

Unlike most vegan cheese recipes you will find, this one is made with zero nutritional yeast and yet it is insanely cheesy and full of flavor. The salsa, vinegar and yogurt all give it all the cheesy flavor and tang.

You will need 8 ingredients (+salt):

  • raw cashews
  • non-dairy yogurt (I used and recommend coconut yogurt)
  • salsa
  • white vinegar
  • smoked paprika
  • cumin
  • green chiles
  • tomatoes
  • jalapenos (optional)

I hope  you all really love this vegan queso! Be sure to leave feedback below after you make it!


Yields 2 1/2 cups

Best Vegan Queso

The absolute Best Vegan Queso made with cashews, non-dairy yogurt, salsa, green chiles, tomatoes and zero nutritional yeast! This queso is dairy-free, oil-free and delicious!

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

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5 based on 7 review(s)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (150g) raw unsalted cashews* (see NOTES at bottom regarding sub)
  • 1 cup (240g) medium heat runny/not too chunky salsa (I used Pace Picante)
  • 3/4 cup (180g) PLAIN dairy-free yogurt (I used SO Delicious "Unsweetened" Plain coconut yogurt but Soy will work too, but it's slightly sweeter)
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) white distilled vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) fine sea salt
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles (use half or the whole can)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • Optional: sliced jalapenos and cilantro
  • NOTE: If you do not have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, then you will need to soak your cashews overnight in a bowl of water, drain, rinse and proceed. Otherwise, the cheese will be gritty. OR, you can sub the cashews with equal gram amount (150g) RAW oil-free cashew butter.
    NOTE: Using a medium heat salsa here will give a nice kick of spiciness. If you are serving this to kids or prefer mild, then sub with a mild salsa.

Instructions

  1. If wanting to make my oil-free chips, make those first. See the bottom of the directions.
  2. Add all of the ingredients (except the chiles and tomatoes) to a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix. If using the soaked cashews, then a food processor tends to work better to smooth out sauces, versus a blender that is not very powerful. Blend a couple of minutes until 100% smooth. After blending, stir in the green chiles and tomatoes, but do not blend. I used the whole can of chiles but you can use less if you prefer.
  3. Add the sauce to a pot and heat it over medium-low just for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until it slightly thickens. Be careful about overheating it or it will make it chunky.
  4. Top with sliced jalapenos or cilantro if desired and serve right away. It will get a bit thicker as it sits and overnight in the fridge, so just give it a good stir.
  5. This sauce is excellent as a dip at a party or over burritos or nachos!
  6. Oil-free Chips: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Cut your tortillas into 4ths. Spread them out evenly and bake for 8-10 mins or until they are getting crisp. Watch closely towards the end so they don't burn. Let them cool and crisp up.

Notes

I always get asked about subbing cashews from people who are low-fat or avoid fat. I am not fat-free or nut-free so I use nuts in my recipes because I want them to taste just as rich and creamy as the original dairy versions, so that is why fat is needed. However, if you want a lower fat version, you can sub up to 1/2 cup of the cashews with white beans. That will really reduce the amount of fat, but ONLY do this if you don't want the best version to serve and wow guests, as it will NOT be as rich, creamy or thick or taste the best. If you are nut-free completely, you can try subbing all white beans, but this is clearly not going to be nearly the same richness, creaminess or thickness as the cashew version. It will be runnier and have a bean taste, so be prepared.

Nutrition per serving (based on 5 at 1/2 cup each): 224 calories | 15.5g fat | 4.8g protein | 20.3g carbs | 3.7g fiber | 8g sugars | 844mg sodium

7.6.7
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41 Comments

  1. I mean come on..that music is sooo catchy!! Made me dance around my living room while I quickly whipped this up. Now for the taste. It truly is Soo good and with great punch of spice and nicely thick for that chip scoop. I can see me adding this to everything. The boys love it too. And added bonus of no Nooch!! As James always asks me -- how does she come up with these recipes. Thank you thank you thank you!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Estee for making it and for the lovely review! So happy it was such a hit all around!!
  2. Thank you for a queso recipe with no nutritional yeast. For some reason I cannot tolerate it and most vegan "cheese" recipes always contain it. I can't wait to try this one!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Enjoy Joanne!
  3. Holy cow....this is addicting! Thanks so much for an amazing recipe! Its my favorite non dairy queso by far!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay Cindy!! Thank you so much for making it so quickly and so glad it was your favorite too! Thank you for the feedback!
  4. Uh huh, sure blame the readers for the use of superlatives here haha! I bet it completely holds up to the title regardless of who named it, and the craziest part to me still is no nutritional yeast. That alone sets it apart from every other vegan cheese recipe out there. Perhaps that's why everyone loves it so much, even the non-vegans. In the world of non-dessert food, I have a huge soft spot for queso. I don't even want to admit how much velveeta I consumed as a kid in the form of chips and queso, as a meal not an appetizer of course. With chiles and everything, so when it comes to cheesy dipping I can handle a little heat :) I actually think the tangy vinegar balance is something most queso is missing, and with the luscious texture and still warm from the stove...okay my mouth is just salivating and dreaming about this now. Me and my personal family-sized bag of chips will be right over :)
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hahaha, yes, totally blaming the readers! I know right, I swear acidity and the right ingredients totally negates any need for the nutritional yeast! Ha, I knowwww. I ate so much velveeta growing up, it was a staple in our home. That is good processed bad-for-you stuff, lol! Thank you Natalie!
  5. I am on a roll today. I immediately made 2 vegan recipes from my favorite blogs that posted today! I do not like the taste of nutritional yeast at all so I was eager to try this queso. As always, your videos are food seductive. I try to stick to your recipes exactly as I know you put the effort into the road tests. I only had Kite Hill unsweetened almond yogurt on hand and it came out delicious! I served it over black bean tostadas. Thank You.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Yay Luci! So very glad you loved it and loved the video! Thank you for the review!
  6. Just whipped up a batch! YUM. I used mild salsa, and some leftover Rotel tomatoes I bought last time I was Stateside. 😉 I will be serving this with burritos later today. Great recipe, Brandi, thank you!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Awesome Regan! So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for making it!
  7. Absolutely love this recipe! I can almost taste it! Love the depth of flavor from the green chilies, paprika and cumin! Can't wait to try this out, Brandi!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Nisha! The flavor is so delicious! Hope you try it!
  8. Amy
    This looks so yummy! I miss queso so much. Do you think homemade salsa would work in this recipe or pico? I just can't have vinegar and most Salsa has lots of vinegar
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Amy! I’m not sure, what is the base of your salsa, like juice? Also, the vinegar in both the salsa and the additional white vinegar is what makes the dip taste cheesy, so I’m concerned of the flavor result without it, just so you know. I guess you can try lime juice in place of it.
  9. Amy
    This looks so good!! Can you make this with pico salsa or homemade? I can't have vinegar
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Amy! I’m not sure, what is the base of your salsa, like juice? Also, the vinegar in both the salsa and the additional white vinegar is what makes the dip taste cheesy, so I’m concerned of the flavor result without it, just so you know. I guess you can try lime juice in place of it.
  10. Ela
    This vegan queso looks amazing, Brandi!! I love that you added smoked paprika because that's lately my favorite ingredient in savory dishes. :D I bet your queso is super flavorful and delicious :)
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Ela! I've been addicted to smoked paprika for years, haha, one of my favorite ingredients!
  11. Such a lovely flavor profile, Brandi! I love green chilies and the addition of paprika is interesting. Thanks for sharing it! Dee xx
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thanks Dee! Yes, the smoke paprika gives a lovely smoky flavor to the queso which is phenomenal!
  12. You are absolutely right! This vegan Queso is so good !!!!! I smiled when I tasted it and did a happy dance!.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Woohoo, thank you Grace! So glad you agree, haha!
  13. Well if your Best Vegan Ranch held up to it's name, I have no doubt that this queso will blow me away!!! This looks dangerously good! And how awesome that your non-vegan guests said they'd take this queso over regular queso any day...that's a huge compliment and a testament to how delicious this must be. I'm printing off the recipe to make this next week - I'd make it today, but I'm all out of yogurt! Haha!! Also, those chips sound amazing with lemon brushed on them. I'm brainstorming all the ways that I'll be using this queso! Thank you for not being fat-free or nut free because a queso without that richness or creaminess would just be sad ;) I remember when I had to be nut-free/AIP for a while, my cheese sauces were pretty lame! xo
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Haha, yes, nut-free cheese sauce is rather sad, isn't it?? I mean, they can be good, but just not like that truly rich cheesy-tasting kind that we want, especially to impress non-vegan guests! Thank you so much my friend, I hope you love it! Can't wait to hear! Hope you are doing well!
  14. Loved your Vegan Cheesy Mexican Tortilla Bake (http://thevegan8.com/2017/06/26/vegan-cheesy-mexican-tortilla-bake/) so this has got to be divine! Thank you, Brandi! You rock with all your great recipes! :)
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Janis for your kind comment!!
  15. This is by far the best vegan cheese I've ever made. I initially made half a portion as I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I ended up making the second half the very next day. The first time I ate this with nachos and the second time I used this to top my homemade black bean burrito bowl. It's pretty amazing any way you'd like to eat it!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      So very happy to hear that Allison! Thank you so much for such an awesome review!!
  16. Every recipe of yours I have tried has been perfect. I have not had any success yet with getting cashew cream to be smooth. Even with soaking and/or boiling. Do I need a Vitamix for completely smooth cream? I have a Ninja. Thanks.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      So sorry I'm just seeing this Candace! Sometimes I miss a comment. I have heard that Ninjas do not work well with cashews. A vitamix works amazing. However, if you soak your cashews for about 12 hours minimum and drain them, they will be exceptionally soft and then a regular food processor WILL get them completely smooth. I do this with my cream cheese and it works perfect, but the key is soaking a very long time. A quick boil won't do any good.
  17. Tom
    This is an amazing sauce! I put it on nachos and they were the best nachos I've ever had. Now I want to put it on everything. Mine as even good cold.
  18. Tom
    This is an amazing sauce! I put it on nachos and they were the best nachos I've ever had. Now I want to put it on everything. Mine was even good cold.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Oh yay! I love love to hear that Tom, thank you so much for the review!
  19. Hi Brandi, does this recipe freeze well?
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Callie, so sorry I missed this earlier, yes it does actually!
  20. looks awesome! one can never have too many vegan queso/cheese recipes :) . i also love that it doesn't use nutritional yeast!
  21. Oh, if only they sold this a local Mexican restaurants! We miss the queso too! This looks great, I have been craving chips and queso. This idea has just pushed me to try, thanks!
  22. joy
    Just stumble on this while I was looking for a vegan dessert. I will try the Alfredo sauce this Friday for dinner. how do you come up with all this incredible recipes??? The queso recipe sounds good too but I have a very sensitive stomach and can't handle any heat :O( You are AWESOME!!!!!!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      You are too sweet Joy, thank you so much! Oh, you can totally control the heat just by how many chiles you add! Or use a mild salsa and it won't be spicy at all then! My 6 year old can totally eat it that way. I would try that!

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