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!
BEST VEGAN QUESO
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 cheese recipe. 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. I love wowing non-vegans with dairy-free recipes, which you can see in my 20 Healthy Vegan Recipes to Wow Non-Vegans!
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 INGREDIENTS
First, you will gather these 8 ingredients (+salt):
- 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.
- Smoked paprika: gives a wonderful smoky undertone to the cheese.
- Ground cumin: gives more depth of flavor and aids to the authentic queso flavor.
- Green chiles: these add both flavor and texture, reminiscent of classic queso.
- Tomatoes: adds texture and classic in queso.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN QUESO
Step 1: First, 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.
Step 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.
Step 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.
Step 4: Top with sliced jalapenos or cilantro if desired and serve right away.
While I have not tried freezing this personally, I think it would be just fine. Just thaw it overnight in the fridge and reheat it on a very low heat over the stove, whisking constantly to prevent sticking. Do not heat it in the microwave, as I do not think it would reheat as well.
OTHER VEGAN CHEESE RECIPES TO TRY
- Vegan Ricotta Cheese
- Vegan Pimento Cheese
- 5 Ingredient Strawberry Cream Cheese
- Vegan Baked Herbed Cashew Cheese
- Vegan Baked Smoky Cashew Cheese
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Best Vegan Queso
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- I use this scale.
- If wanting to make my oil-free chips, make those first. See the bottom of the directions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- CASHEWS SUB: 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!
- FREEZING TIPS: While I have not tried freezing this personally, I think it would be just fine. Just thaw it overnight in the fridge and reheat it on a very low heat over the stove, whisking constantly to prevent sticking. Do not heat it in the microwave, as I do not think it would reheat as well.