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Vegan Cashew Queso Recipe

Vegan Queso Dip – This easy cashew queso recipe is SO creamy, cheesy, and delicious, all without dairy! You’ll love it with chips, nachos, and more!

Overhead view of a white bowl of white cashew queso dip topped with chopped tomato and minced cilantro

Full confession: I’ve been sitting on this recipe for FOUR WHOLE YEARS. Can we still be friends?

This cashew queso dip has made an appearance at taco nights, holiday parties, appetizer bars, game nights, birthdays, and everyday snacks and dinners countless times and always (ALWAYS) delivers.

While I won’t pretend that a vegan queso recipe made without cheese is “just like” the real thing, I WILL tell you that it 100% satisfies my queso craving. And, it’s been gobbled up by our extended family (who all eat dairy) over and over again.

While we do use nuts (cashews), we make our vegan queso dip without tofu, potato, dairy-free cheese, or other extra ingredients. Instead, you’ll need 5 ingredients + a little water to pull this recipe together.

Here’s what you need to make our easy cashew queso recipe…

overhead view of ingredients for vegan cashew queso dip
A tortilla chip dipped into a bowl of white cashew queso dip topped with chopped tomato and minced cilantro

Here’s What You need To Make This Cashew Queso Recipe:

  • Raw Cashews. First, you’ll soak raw cashews (unsalted, not roasted) in water overnight if you can until they’re soft. This makes them easier to blend and also makes them more easily digestible. Win-win! (Don’t have time/forgot to soak them? No worries! Check out the FAQ below!)
  • Green Salsa (Salsa Verde). We get SO much flavor by using a little store-bought or homemade salsa verde. It eliminates the need for green chiles, garlic, or acidic ingredients like lime juice or lemon juice, vinegar, etc. Green salsa’s got it all! You can also control the heat of this vegan queso by choosing mild, medium, or hot salsa. I usually go for mild or medium since that’s how my kids prefer it. Trader Joe’s tomatillo salsa is top notch!
  • Hot Water. Next, comes some hot water. This helps with the temperature of your queso, since we won’t be heating it on the stove.
  • Nutritional Yeast. If you’ve never used it before, you might be surprised by just how cheesy nutritional yeast is! It’s different than baker’s yeast (the kind you’d use to make bread). More grocery stores than ever carry it these days, but you can always order online, too!
  • Salt. This brings out the flavors in the salsa and nutritional yeast and helps create that cheesy flavor.
  • Cumin. For a bit more smokiness and earthiness.
  • Turmeric. This is optional, but does great things for the color.

How To MAke Vegan Queso, Step By Step:

  1. Soak The Cashews In Advance. Add the cashews to an airtight container and cover with warm water. Cover the container and refrigeratate them 2-3 hours, or overnight. (Overnight is best when you have time!) If you don’t have time, use a heatproof bowl or container and cover the cashews with boiling water or very hot water and let them soak 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add Ingredients To The Blender. Then, drain the cashews (discard the soaking liquid) and add them to the blender. Add 1/3 cup salsa along with the nutritional yeast, salt, cumin, and turmeric. Then, drizzle the hot water over the other ingredients
  3. Blend Until Smooth. Next, blend the cashew queso for 1-2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the edges as needed. Note: if you’re not using a high-speed blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, this may take you longer. Just keep at it and take breaks as needed so you don’t overheat the blender. You want a perfectly smooth texture.
  4. Finish The Queso. Pour the smooth cashew queso dip mixture into a bowl or container and stir in another 2-3 Tablespoons of salsa. Taste and add additional salt, cumin, or salsa, to taste.
  5. Garnish & Enjoy. When you’re ready to serve, garnish the queso dip with extras like chopped & seeded plum tomatoes, fresh cilantro, jalapeño slices, or cooked crumbled chorizo (vegan as needed). Serve with your favorites & store leftovers in the refrigerator 3-4 days.
A tortilla chip dipped into a bowl of white cashew queso dip topped with chopped tomato and minced cilantro

Now, Let’s Use it! 10 Ways To Try This dip:

  1. With Tortilla Chips. We have to start with chips! Salty, crispy tortilla chips are my favorite thing to serve with cashew queso dip. (Try our homemade baked tortilla chips for a lighter option!)
  2. Drizzled On Nachos. Or, smother those chips with queso, top with goodies like black beans or refried beans, crumbled chorizo (regular or vegan, depending on your needs), pico de gallo, and guacamole.
  3. Over Baked Potatoes. I actually love a little dollop or drizzle of cashew queso with baked potatoes! It’s yummy with broccoli!
  4. In Burritos. Add an extra layer of flavor to your favorite burrito with a thin layer of queso.
  5. With Veggies. Skip the chips and dip raw or blanched veggies into this dip. Carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower are nice!
  6. With Soft Pretzels or Pretzel Bites. Channel your favorite afternoon at the mall with some gluten-free soft pretzels or pretzel bites and a little cheezy dip on the side!
  7. On Fully-Loaded French Fries Or Tots. Or, use this dip for crispy baked sweet potato fries (the seasoning is amazing with this vegan cheese dip!) or some tater tots. I won’t judge.
  8. To Dip Taquitos. Serve bowls of queso, guacamole, and salsa with your favorite taquitos. We love these chicken ones, but it’s also great with black bean taquitos!
  9. With Crispy Smashed Potatoes. Or, dip our crispy smashed potatoes. The crispy, salty potatoes are amazing with this vegan cheese sauce.
  10. On Tacos. Or, top of your tacos with a little (or a lot) of this tasty dip.
Front view of a white bowl of white cashew queso dip topped with chopped tomato and minced cilantro

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Vegan Queso Dip:

How To Soak Cashews Quickly. Place the raw cashews in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling or very hot water. Let the cashews soak 5-10 minutes. This is a great option if you’re in a hurry or forgot to soak them overnight.

Is This Spicy? It 100% depends on the salsa you use. I like to use mild or medium salsa which gives me mild or medium cashew queso. The cashews do mellow out the heat somewhat, so whatever salsa you use, the queso will be a similar, but more muted level of heat.

How Can I Make Spicy Cashew Queso? If you like more heat, you’ve got a few options. Add some pickled or fresh jalapeño slices, or use hot salsa. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few drops of hot sauce to the queso to turn up the heat.

How To Reheat Cashew Queso. I almost never do to be perfectly honest, as I love this dip warm or cold. Cashew queso thickens in the refrigerator, so the best way to warm it up is to let it warm up at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, then add a few tablespoons of piping hot water to thin it out and warm it up again. Or, microwave or heat on the stovetop on medium-low heat gently.

Do They Sell Store-Bought Vegan Queso? They do, but I haven’t found one I like as much as our homemade cashew queso. Siete is the best option we’ve sampled. (Find it at Siete, Target, or Whole Foods)

Swaps & Substitutions:

  • Cashews. No other nuts will work in this recipe. I don’t recommend any other substitutions for this. Our recipe cannot be made nut-free.
  • Salsa. Feel free to use red salsa instead of green salsa. I do recommend something smoky and a little spicy or it’ll be a bit bland. Our smoky chipotle salsa would be tasty!
  • Nutritional Yeast. I highly recommend using this ingredient as it really gives that cheesy flavor. It also keeps well up to 2 YEARS in the refrigerator or freezer, so you can make MANY batches from one bottle! Do NOT substitute regular yeast (bread yeast).
A tortilla chip dipped into a bowl of white cashew queso dip topped with chopped tomato and minced cilantro

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Vegan Cashew Queso Dip


  • Author: Emily Dixon, One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/3 cups queso 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This easy cashew queso is SO creamy, cheesy, and delicious, all without dairy! You’ll love it with chips, nachos, and more!


Ingredients

Scale

For The Cashew Queso:

  • 1 cup (about 5 oz.) raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup salsa verde (green salsa) – I like mild or medium*
  • 1/3 cup hot water 
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (more, or less, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric (optional, for color)

Optional Toppings: 

  • Pickled jalapeño slices, or fresh jalapeño slices
  • Chopped tomato (seed it first, so it doesn’t water down the queso)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cooked, crumbled chorizo (regular or vegan, depending on your dietary needs)

Instructions

Soak The Cashews In Advance:

  1. Overnight (Best Method). Add the cashews to an airtight container and cover with warm water. Cover the container and refrigeratate them 2-3 hours, or overnight. (Overnight is best when you have time!)
  2. Quick Method. If you don’t have time, use a heatproof bowl or container and cover the cashews with boiling water or very hot water and let them soak 10-15 minutes.

Next, Make The Cashew Queso:

  1. Add Ingredients To The Blender. Drain the soaked cashews (discard the soaking liquid) and add them to the blender. Add 1/3 cup salsa along with the nutritional yeast, salt, cumin, and turmeric. Then, drizzle the hot water over the other ingredients
  2. Blend Until Smooth. Next, blend the cashew queso for 1-2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the edges as needed. Note: if you’re not using a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, this may take you longer. Just keep at it and take breaks as needed so you don’t overheat the blender.
  3. Finish The Queso. Pour the smooth cashew queso into a bowl or container and stir in another 2-3 Tablespoons of salsa. Taste and add additional salt, cumin, or salsa, to taste.
  4. Garnish & Enjoy. When you’re ready to serve, garnish the queso dip with extras like chopped seeded tomato, fresh cilantro, jalapeño slices, or cooked crumbled chorizo (vegan as needed). Serve with your favorite chips, or serve with tacos, nachos, burritos, burrito bowls, and more. Store leftovers in the refrigerator 3-4 days.

Notes

*You can also warm the salsa up in the microwave to get this queso dip even warmer. 

How To Reheat Cashew Queso. I almost never do to be perfectly honest, as I love this dip warm or cold. Cashew queso thickens in the refrigerator, so the best way to warm it up is to let it warm up at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, then add a few tablespoons of piping hot water to thin it out and warm it up again. Or, microwave or heat on the stovetop on medium-low heat gently. (Don’t boil or simmer!)

Season. If you’re using a flavorful salsa, you shouldn’t need extra spices, but if you prefer to add some extra seasonings, feel free to experiment by adding a little garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, or smoked paprika. Start small and add more according to your taste!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Keywords: vegan queso recipe, vegan queso dip recipe, cashew queso recipe, cashew queso dip, dairy free queso,

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