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Easy, cheesy, totally dairy-free vegan cashew queso! This luscious cheese sauce is loaded with flavor and easy to make, with just 7 ingredients.
I’m certainly no stranger to vegan queso. I’ve made many versions before, and shared some of my favorites including my nacho sweet potato cheese and its BFF my nacho cauliflower cheese recipe.
I love both of those recipes, but I’ve got to say it: you can’t beat good old raw cashews when it comes up to creating the richest, creamiest, dreamiest vegan dairy-substitutes. They’re definitely the way to go when I’m in the mood for decadence, and they worked out wonderfully in all kinds of super indulgent recipes from my vegan fettuccine Alfredo to my vegan scalloped potatoes.
I figured it was time to share a recipe for super simple vegan cashew queso. I love this recipe because it’s delicious, rich and creamy, but also: I pretty much always have all of the ingredients on hand. They’re all pantry staples!
So grab a chip and let’s talk about how this easy dairy-free cheese sauce is made!
- Ingredients You’ll Need
- How It’s Made
- Leftovers & Storage
- More Vegan Cheese Recipes
- 7-Ingredient Vegan Cashew Queso
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Cashews. You need to use raw cashews for this recipe. Super important! If you use roasted cashews your queso will taste more like cashew butter than cheese.
- Nutritional yeast. Don’t mistake this for baker’s yeast — it’s something completely different. Nutritional yeast is in a type of inactive yeast that you’ll need to get in the natural foods section of your supermarket. It will add lots of cheesy flavor to your vegan queso.
- Hot sauce. Use a mild brand if you don’t want much heat in your queso. Cholula is my recommendation. While you can substitute a splash of vinegar if you want a super mild cheese, I don’t recommend it. Believe it or not, hot sauce will make your queso taste extra cheesy.
- Garlic powder.
- Onion Powder.
Tip: Feel free to get creative and spice up your cashew queso with additional seasonings like ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, or cayenne pepper.
How It’s Made
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!
This stuff whips up in minutes, but you do need to do one prep step: ideally, soak your cashews in water for 4 to 8 hours. This will soften them up so they blend easily.
Tip: If you forget to soak your cashews, boil them in water for 15 minutes instead. Just be aware that they won’t blend up as smoothly as they would if they’d been soaked.
- Drain and rinse the cashews, then add them to a blender or food processor bowl, along with the nutritional yeast, hot sauce, garlic and onion powders, salt, and ½ cup of water.
- Blend everything until smooth, then thin the queso with additional water. Use up to an additional ½ cup, adding until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
Tip: Give your cashew queso a taste-test and add any seasonings you think are needed. This might mean more salt, hot sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic or onion powder.
Serve your vegan queso with some tortilla chips for dipping.
Tip: While totally not required, vegan queso is best served warm. You can heat it up in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring between zaps, or over medium-low heat in a saucepan, stirring frequently and adding water if it gets too thick.
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover cashew queso will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
- Pile on the toppings! I’ve topped my queso with salsa, hot sauce, and fresh cilantro. Sliced jalapeño peppers, olive slices, diced red onion, and sliced scallions are other great options.
- Use a high-powered blending device for the smoothest possible queso. I’m using a Vitamix high-speed blender. If you don’t have a high-powered device, be patient. It can take five minutes or more of blending time to reach maximum smoothness.
- Keep frozen soaked cashews on hand. Do you forget to soak your cashews all the time? I do! Or, rather, I used to. Now I have a hack. Soak your cashews in water for 4 to 8 hours, then freeze them right in their soaking water. You’ll have soaked cashews next time you need them.
- This cashew queso is good for more than just dipping! Drizzle it over nachos or fries, stuff it in burritos, or use it to top your vegan chili or vegan tacos. Get creative.
- Can’t have gluten? No problem! All of the ingredients in this recipe are gluten-free.