A small white bowl of queso sits on a platter with blue tortilla chips.

So it doesn’t get more cheese-tastic than queso, right? I mean, the name is literally translated to just “cheese.” But the truth is, if you think about the flavors of queso, it’s often a lot less about cheese and a lot more about cumin and chile peppers and spice. Queso dip is a great place to experiment with some dairy-free goodness!

This creamy queso is cheeseless thanks to the unbelievable creaminess of cashew cream. It’s not an exact replica of your traditional queso, but it does a pretty darn good job of filling a craving when you have one (and it’s BOMB on quesadillas).

Spoon drizzling cashew cream into a turquoise bowl full of more cashew cream.

Why are cashews used in vegan cheese?

A rich, dairy-free cream made from nothing but raw cashews and water—it sound so simple, but cashew cream is pure magic! After soaking the cashews in boiling water, you blend them in a high-speed blender into a deliciously smooth cream that will be a cornerstone of your kitchen. Cashew cream is a great alternative to dairy because it really is incredibly close in texture and fattiness to regular cow’s milk dairy. We have a full post all about the benefits of cashew cream, so make sure to read that to see all the ways cashew cream can be used.

What is vegan queso made of?

This vegan queso is made of a base of creamy, nutty cashew cream. It gets its cheesy flavor thanks to nutritional yeast and its spicy kick and intense flavor thanks to a handful of herbs and spices.

What does cashew queso taste like?

This vegan queso has a very similar flavor profile to regular queso! It’s creamy, silky, and has a nice spicy kick that makes it great poured on nachos, drizzled on burritos, or slathered onto tortillas for quesadillas.

Close-up of a small white bowl of dairy-free queso surrounded by blue corn tortilla chips.How long do you need to soak cashews?

It all depends on how far you plan ahead! The easiest option is to go with an overnight soak—cover the cashews with cold water and let them sit on the counter overnight.

But if you forget, we’ve got you covered!

  • The One Hour Option: Pour boiling hot water over your cashews, let them soak for an hour, then drain and rinse.
  • The Ten Minute Option: Combine 3 parts water with one part cashews in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. It works in a pinch, but your final queso may not be as smooth.

How to Make Vegan Queso

Armed with your high-powered blender, all it takes to make vegan queso is a push of a button!

  1. Soak your cashews (either overnight or using one of our quick soak options above).
  2. Combine the soaked cashews, water, nutritional yeast, herbs, and spices.
  3. Blend until very smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

In what ways can you use this cashew queso?

This queso is happiest when it’s dipped with some tortilla chips (and maybe a margarita on the side), but you don’t have to limit yourself to just using it as a dip! Drizzle it onto tacos. Use it in a filling for enchiladas. Slather it between two tortillas to make for an ooey, gooey quesadilla. Put it in a seven layer dip. You’ll always want to have this queso on hand!

Switch this dairy-free cashew queso up to suit your preferences

Add more heat in the form of upping the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and sriracha. Add some pico de gallo, diced green chiles, or diced tomatoes on top for some freshness. Squeeze on some fresh lime juice or lemon juice to add some brightness. Experiment away!

 

 

 

A small white bowl of queso sits on a platter with blue tortilla chips.

Dairy-Free and Vegan Cashew Queso

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 6 hours 3 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 3 minutes

This dairy-free, vegan cashew queso is a quick plant-based dish. We use nutritional yeast and spices to transform cashews into a delicious dipper or topping.

Adapted from Minimalist Baker.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional, for color)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or less, if you don’t like heat)
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)

Instructions

  1. Place cashews in a bowl or jar (I like using a wide-mouth quart mason jar) and cover with water. Let soak overnight (at least 6 hours).
  2. Once soaking is finished, drain and rinse the cashews, and place in the basin of a high-powered blender. Add 1 cup of water, the nutritional yeast, the salt, the garlic powder, the cumin, the chili powder, the turmeric, the chipotle in adobe, and the sriracha, and blend on high until very smooth—about three minutes.
  3. Store in covered container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Notes

  • Quick soak method: Cover cashews with boiling water and let sit 1 hour before proceeding.
  • Super quick method: Place cashews and three cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse before proceeding.

YouTube video
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 110Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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