Best Vegan Queso

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! EVEN READERS AGREE it is the best!

Bowl of vegan queso cheese in a bowl with a chip on the side.

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I'm here to show you how to make the Best Vegan Queso ever today! This cheese recipe is a variation of my cheese sauce from my Cheesy Mexican Tortilla Bake. 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? But guess what, it is even better because I adapted it to be queso now.

In all seriousness, it really is the best 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.

Plate of chips and vegan queso cheese dip and jalapenos and chiles in a bowl.

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. Learn why I like to be oil-free as much as possible on my How to Cook and Bake Without Oil post. 

MAKE VEGAN CHEESE WITHOUT NUTRITIONAL YEAST

Unlike most vegan cheese recipes you will find, this Best Vegan Queso is made with NO nutritional yeast and yet it is insanely cheesy and full of flavor. The salsa, vinegar and yogurt all give this dairy-free queso dip all of it's cheesy flavor and tang.

Vegan queso cheese dip in a bowl with hand dipping a chip in the queso.

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN QUESO

First, you will gather these 8 ingredients (+salt):

  • raw cashews
  • non-dairy yogurt (I used and recommend coconut yogurt)
  • salsa (my favorite salsa to use here is Trader Joe's)
  • white vinegar
  • smoked paprika
  • cumin
  • green chiles
  • tomatoes

Vegan cheese sauce in a blender.

1. 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 and creamy.

2. 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.

Vegan queso cheese dip in a bowl with chips on the side and jalapenos on top.

WHY THIS IS THE BEST VEGAN QUESO

  • Cashews: make it extra rich, creamy and thick just like dairy cheese.
  • Salsa: gives the cheese a depth of flavor, as well as tang, which is needed for a cheesy taste.
  • Non-dairy yogurt: makes this taste extra tangy, extra cheesy and creamy. I use the So Delicious coconut plain.
  • Distilled white vinegar: another super acidic note to give extra oomph of flavor that just screams cheesy.

Here is a how-to video of how to make the Best Vegan Queso. It's super easy to make.

Other Vegan Dips to try:

Vegan queso dip with hand dipping a chip in.
5 from 28 votes
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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!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword best vegan queso, vegan queso
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 1/2 cups
Author Brandi Doming

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 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!

Oil-free Chips: Preheat your oven to 400°F and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Cut your tortillas into 4ths. Spread them out evenly and brush lightly with lemon juice and season with salt. 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.

    Recipe 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 if you are ok with that, give it a try!

    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

     

     

    71 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. 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.
        • I used homemade salsa (pico de gallo) but I did omit most of the liquid from the pico as I was afraid it would make it too runny. It came out perfect 😊
    9. 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. 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 (https://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. 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. 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. 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!
    23. I have been asked to make this every weekend since you posted this receipe. My boyfriend just loves it. He adds in extra onion, jalapeno, habenero, and we toss in a can on Rotel Fire Roasted tomatoes and green chiles for good measure. Thank you for sharing this idea. We used the left over cheese from the Mexican Bake as dip from time to time, but this has become a staple for us (when he opts to share some with me!).

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        So glad to hear how much you both enjoy it Jeannine! Wow, there's already a lot of tomatoes and green chiles in it so I bet it's really chunky if you add rotel too, haha! Mine is already pretty thick like in the photos because of the cooking of it making it thick, as well as the add-ins!
        • Yes indeed. However, he enjoys it cold. It's super chunky and super tasty!
          • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
            Oh awesome, cold is delicious too!
    24. I LOVE this recipe and I do mean love. I have been dreaming about it every since the first time I made it and I am going to have to make it again very soon. I truly think the recipe is perfect I wouldn't change one thing about it. I don't know how you do it to be honest. I can't remember what actual cheese tastes like but honestly to me this is spot on. And even if it isn't that doesn't matter because it stands out on its own as a delicious flavorful queso. I don't even think it is necessary to compare it to cheese when it is an amazing and delicious treat in its own right. I am obsessed with this queso and in reality I am obsessed with your recipes in general every single one is a hit. Its amazing you can create such fantastic recipes time and time again. Thank you for keeping my mouth and tummy happy. :)

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Thank you so much Christina! I think it tastes just like cheese too and so did all of my non-vegan guests, so it could fool anybody I think! I have eaten it so many times myself, haha. Awww, thank you so much, I am just so touched with your kind feedback, as always, it really brightens up my day!
    25. This was AhMAZING! I have been trying different “The Best Queso” recipes and yours is hands down The BEST!!! I made one change, which is saying a lot because “doctor” every recipe I have ever made lol, substituted a can of drained Rotel for the chili’s and fresh tomatoes. Thank you for all the incredible recipes!

      • ***this is the first recipe I’ve tried of yours and now I’m so excited to try more

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Woohoo! Love hearing that Kameren! Thank you so much for this incredible review and so glad you agree it is the best!!
    26. Have made this three times now and everyone loves it!
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Yay! Love, love that feedback, thank you Melanie!
    27. I thought that this recipe was related to another recipe, that I can’t seem to find anymore! I believe it was something to do with a rice and bean quesadilla. I’d love to locate that recipe again! Thanks....
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Hi Gerri! Yes, that was just a random throw together meal that I shared on my Facebook page that you saw. I used this cheese recipe for the quesadillas and what I added and how I cooked them was put in that Facebook post. Really simple to throw together!
    28. Hey which brand tortillas you use or do u make it on your own? I mean the raw ones are made by you from the batter or is it of some brand!
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        I just bought plain corn tortillas made from just corn flour and lime juice and cut them up and baked them. Listed on the directions. I don’t recall the name of the brand but I got them at Sprouts. You can find corn tortillas anywhere though!
    29. This has got to be the BEST vegan queso I have ever made or tried! Its so close to what my palate is already familiar with. I feel like that vinegar is what makes it. Who would have thought? Love this stuff. I am constantly making it. It is Da Bomb!!

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Wow, thank you for the awesome review Marilea!! Made my day! It's the vinegar and yogurt that makes such a difference!
    30. This dip is AMAZING 10/10 would recommend!! My friends and I made it for vegan taco party we hosted - most of our guests are not vegan and everybody loved it, even some who don't normally like cow queso! I actually replaced the cashews with sunflower seeds (soaked for not even an hour) for a friend with a nut allergy, and it worked perfectly. I'll be coming back to this recipe again and again for sure! I still can't believe it doesn't have any nutritional yeast...

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Woohoo, what a lovely review Joshua! Thank you so much! Loved that everybody loved it too!
    31. I made this last night for a taco bar dinner. It was delicious on the tacos and made me think I had cheese on them. It was also incredible as a fresh vegetable dip. I actually think I will make it more often to use as a sub for hummus on veggies and sandwiches. Thanks for this amazing recipe. Hard to tell there is no fat or cheese!
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        That's awesome to hear Carol! So glad you enjoyed it!
    32. I'm new to this kind of eating and my goal is to find 10 or 15 "go to" recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare because even though I love reading complicated recipes, the reality is I probably won't take the trouble to prepare them. The first recipe I tried from Vegan 8 is this "Best Vegan Queso". I didn't have any yogurt in the house so I used unsweetened almond milk and some lemon juice. I also am not a fan of smoked paprika so I used 1/4 teaspoon only and subbed sweet paprika for the rest. I even forgot to add the cumin (my fave spice) but this turned out to be simple, absolutely delicious, and will be one of my staple recipes. Thank you Brandi!

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Thank you so much Bob for the lovely review! I am so glad you loved it! Just fyi though, to get the most optimum results, if you can't find yogurt, I just tested a newer version just this weekend and actually posted it on my Facebook page since so many can't get the yogurt. Sub the yogurt with 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (shaken well first) and 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar. You will still add all the remaining ingredients, including the other vinegar, if desired. I would first taste the queso after blending up to decide if you still want the distilled white vinegar. This version is just as amazing as the yogurt version!
    33. This is hands down the best queso out there. I’ve tried many vegan queso and this is fabulous! My picky non vegan husband couldn’t stop commenting on how good this was. Even my older teen, who was disappointed that there was no “real” cheese sauce available, finally tried it and admitted it was delicious. Holy moly this was good!! Thanks you!
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Woohoo, what an amazing review, thank you so much Trish! That is the best feedback ever!
    34. What can you use instead of yogurt? I saw that you made it different once without yogurt and I wanted to know what you used.Thanks!!! ☺️
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Hi Alexie! Sub the yogurt with 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (shaken well first) and 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar. You will still add all the remaining ingredients as listed, however with the white distilled vinegar, taste the queso first after blended to decide if you still want to add the distilled vinegar. I've made it with both vinegars and without. It comes down to taste preference I think. This version is just as amazing as the yogurt version!
    35. SO GOOD! I impulsively invited a bunch of people over last night and then realized I needed to throw together some appetizers. This came together so quickly and was delicious! I have never been a fan of "vegan cheese", but this is going to be made again and again.
      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
        Yay, that is awesome to hear Christina! So glad it was a hit!

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