Say hello to the vegan queso of your dreams! Once you try this queso, you’ll want to make it weekly and pour it over everything.
I originally developed this queso as a component in my vegan buffalo chickpea quesadillas. When I read the comments on that post, I noticed y’all were going crazy for the cheese sauce:
Kellie Quinn says: “I use the nacho sauce on everything. Thank you for yet another amazing recipe Nisha!”
Vallie says: “The sauce is wonderful! There are so may different ways to enjoy it!”
Marcie says: “The cheese sauce is now my go-to recipe for any recipe where I want some queso, its so much better than the store bought stuff and ridiculously easy to make.”
With that in mind, I thought this queso deserved its own standalone recipe, so here we are. Read on to learn all about how to make vegan queso.
Note: This recipe contains cashews. If you’re looking for a cheese sauce recipe that does not use nuts, check out my nut-free vegan cheese sauce!
And for even more options, check out my complete guide to vegan cheese! It covers the best vegan cheese recipes to use for every situation (including my Vegan Feta and Vegan Cashew Cheese) and reviews the best vegan cheeses you can buy at the supermarket.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Ridiculously easy. There are effectively only two steps in this recipe. Step one, soak the cashews. Step two, blitz everything in a blender. How easy is that?
Minimal ingredients. This recipe requires only 8 ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your pantry.
Wholesome but indulgent. This queso brings a decadent cheesy creaminess to your burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and nachos, but it’s made with wholesome plant-based ingredients.
Make ahead. Many readers report making a big batch of this on a Sunday as part of meal prep and using it in several different ways throughout the week. It stays good in the fridge for at least a week and you can even freeze leftovers if you have extra.
Step by step instructions
Gather your ingredients.
Soak the cashews. See the “Tips” section for details for more information.
Add the drained cashews and all the remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender.
Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. Taste for seasonings, adding salt as needed.
Tips for making this recipe
How to soften raw cashews.
There are a couple of different ways to soften raw cashews, depending on how much time you have and how high-powered your blender is.
- If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can soak the cashews in boiling water for as little as 15 minutes.
- If you don’t have a high-powered blender, soak your cashews in cool water overnight.
- Regardless of what blender you have, you can also add your cashews to a saucepan, cover with water, and boil for 15 minutes. Boiling is the quickest option and works great to fully soften the cashews.
As spicy as you like.
I think the recipe is perfect as-is; it has some spice but it’s by no means overwhelming. However, I also recognize that spice tolerance is deeply personal.
If you love spicy food, I suggest using a hot salsa and adding more pickled jalapeños to taste. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, you can try adding fewer of the pickled jalapeños and choosing a mild salsa.
Note: It’s easier to add additional heat to this recipe than take it away, so if you’re not sure, add fewer jalapeños than you think you need initially. You can always taste the queso, then add more to your liking if need be.
How to heat up this vegan queso
If you are serving the queso as a dip, it’s even better served warm!
All you need to do is add it to a small saucepan and gently heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. If it seems too thick, add a splash of plant-based milk or water and stir to incorporate.
It also works great in vegan nachos. Cover a sheet pan with tortilla chips, crumble your favorite vegan meat on top (or just add some refried beans), then bake in a 425ºF oven for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and spoon on some salsa, pickled or fresh jalapeños, vegan sour cream. or any other toppings you’d like.
And if you want to keep it more casual, you can always use the queso as a dip with tortilla chips. It’s something we do not infrequently in my house!
Okay, that’s everything. If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram – I love hearing your feedback.
- 1 cup (~130g) raw cashews
- 1/2 cup (~112g) vegan coconut yogurt (unsweetened, plain)
- 1/2 cup (~120g) of your favorite salsa
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Several cracks of freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños + 2 tablespoons of the pickled jalapeño brine
- Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
- Add the raw cashews to a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Drain the soaked cashews. Alternatively, you can soak the cashews in cool water overnight.If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can soak the cashews in boiling water for 15-30 minutes.
- Add the drained cashews to a high-powered blender. Add the yogurt, salsa, water, cumin, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, nutritional yeast, pickled jalapeños, and pickled jalapeño brine. Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth. Taste for seasonings, adding salt as needed.Note: the pickled jalapeños are decently salty, so I don't add much salt, but if you skip them, be sure to add salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt).
- To serve warm, add the queso to a small saucepan and gently heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. If it seems too thick, add a splash of plant-based milk or water and stir to incorporate.