Vegan Queso

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An addictively good yet extremely easy vegan cheese sauce that tastes just like queso. Less than 10 ingredients and everything happens in a blender. Use it in burritos, quesadillas, tacos, or nachos, or warm it up and serve as a hot queso dip with tortilla chips!
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 20 minutes
5 from 115 votes

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.

With only eight ingredients, this recipe could hardly be easier. All you need to do is soak your cashews, blend them with the remaining ingredients, and voila! A bowl of the most addictive cheesy, spicy vegan goodness known to man.

It’s like a party in your mouth with its rich and creamy texture that perfectly complements burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and nachos. And the best part? It’s made with wholesome plant-based ingredients, so you can indulge in your cravings without any of the guilt!

Table of contents:
1. Why you’ll love this recipe
2. Ingredient notes
3. Step-by-step instructions
4. Tips for making this recipe
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. Serving suggestions
7. Recipe card with notes

Spoon in a glass jar of 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. 

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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.

Ingredient notes

Queso ingredients laid out in various glass bowls on a table.

Cashews. The base of our vegan queso. They add creaminess and body but have a mild flavor.

Nutritional yeast. For those cheesy vibes.

Coconut yogurt. A good coconut based yogurt gives our vegan queso some tang without contributing any coconut flavor. My favorite brands are Culina, CocoYo, or GT’s. Can’t have coconut? Kite Hill makes a thick Greek Almond Milk Yogurt that could also work. A thin yogurt just won’t work here!

Salsa and pickled jalapeños. We need some heat and these two work perfectly together. The pickling liquid from the jalapeños give the queso a mouthwatering tart flavor that will keep you coming back for more.

Spices and nutritional yeast. Chili powder, cumin, and paprika add flavor and depth while nutritional yeast provides cheesy vibes.

Step-by-step instructions

Soak the cashews in hot water for 15 minutes.

Add the drained cashews and all the remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender. If you’re using a food processor, see the Tips section for how to soak your cashews.

Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. Taste for seasonings, adding salt as needed.

vegan queso in blender.

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 later if need be.

Person spooning queso from a glass jar on a table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make vegan queso without a high-powered blender?

While the easiest way to make vegan queso is with a Vitamix (affiliate link) or similarly high-powered blender, it is possible to make queso without one. 

The key is to make sure you cashews fully soften. For the best results, boil your cashews. Simply add your cashews to a sauce pan, cover with water, and . You can also try soaking your cashews overnight, though they might not pulverize quite as easily.

How do you store vegan queso?

Vegan queso can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

What’s the best way to warm up 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.

Serving Suggestions

There are so many ways to use this vegan queso!

For starters, you can try it in buffalo chickpea quesadillas, vegan crunchwrap supremes, breakfast burritos, or burrito bowls.

It’s also the star of these epic loaded vegan nachos.

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. 

The Best Vegan Queso

5 from 115 votes
An addictively good yet extremely easy vegan cheese sauce that tastes just like queso. Less than 10 ingredients and everything happens in a blender. Use it in burritos, quesadillas, tacos, or nachos, or warm it up and serve as a hot queso dip with tortilla chips!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mexican-inspired
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 8 (2 cups)

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 160mg | Potassium: 200mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 222IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 2mg

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169 comments on Vegan Queso

  1. B

    4 stars
    This is very delicious, a bit too spicy for my taste but I’ve had people who thought it was perfect spice. I overestimated myself. I was wondering if it’s normal for it to start smelling like alcohol even though I’ve only been storing it in the fridge for a few days. A week has not passed. It still tastes the same. Should I be alarmed and is this sauce freezer friendly?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi B, great to hear the queso was well-loved!

      And hmm, we’ve never had that issue happen even after keeping it for over a week. The only thing I can think of is that it’s related to the specific yogurt (or salsa) you used. If it still tastes fine, it should not be spoiled. It has always lasted over a week in my fridge. You can freeze it, though the texture changes a bit. You’ll get better results if, after defrosting, you reblend the sauce in your blender.

      1. B

        I defrosted it as normal and texture remained the same. The alcohol smell stopped after freezing it possibly because fermentation can’t occur at that cold of a temperature.

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mara Bevan

    5 stars
    I made this last week as an appetizer with tortilla chips. Totally amazing taste and easy to prepare. My friends all loved it and asked for the recipe. Highly recommended.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Mara! It makes us happy to know that everyone enjoyed the recipe.

  3. Carrie W

    5 stars
    Wow!! I’m amazed at how cheesy this tastes!! First time working with nutritional yeast and I’m hooked👍🏻 I was worried my mini bullet-style 2-cup capacity blender wouldn’t be up to the task, but it worked! I followed the tip to soak the cashews overnight, then rinsed them with warm water today – great advice to get the sauce super smooth. Next time I would probably make a half-sized batch at a time just so the machine has room to blend without extra stirring from me. What a delicious recipe that I will gladly make weekly to have on hand.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for giving the recipe a shot, Carrie! Happy to hear it worked in your small bullet blender. And wow, first time using nutritional yeast?! Congrats- we love it over here at the RPL kitchen so I’m sure you’ll run into many more recipes that include “nooch” (as we like to call it) when you make recipes from the site in the future. Cheers!

  4. Andrea

    5 stars
    Another delicious creation from Rainbow Plant Life going into the weekly rotation. Thank you so much.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Andrea, thank you so much for your kind review! We’re happy to hear it :)

  5. Gail Dand

    Is this able to be frozen, or how long will it last in the refrigerator please?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Gail, vegan queso can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can be frozen, then thawed in the fridge overnight and popped into a blender with some water or veggie broth to make it smooth again. We hope you get the chance to try it!

  6. Tracie in Northern California

    Oh, forgot to say we bought your cookbook as a result of trying the queso recipe. If you can make queso so amazingly delicious, I’m very excited to see how you’ll have me using my Instant Pot to level up my plant-based repertoire.

  7. Tracie in Northern California

    5 stars
    Nisha, this recipe was my attempt to get my husband interested in adding some plant-based alternatives to our diet as our doctor is strongly urging us to move in that direction for health reasons. Hubby wasn’t excited about the prospect of plant-based foods, but he acquiesced to this recipe as we both think the recipes you feature on your channel sound tasty, and your sauce-focused video this week was timely. I totally picked the right entry point for us – creamy & spicy, it was far better on our veggie nachos than other alternative quesos I’ve made, and was way better than the non-vegan supermarket queso which had been a cheeky treat. Thank you for posting a recipe that showed us that there don’t have to be compromises when we are choosing healthier options.

  8. Jamie

    5 stars
    WOW! Another phenomenal creation! So quick and much healthier than other cheez recipes out there. I whipped this delicious condiment up while making a breakfast burrito. So many possibilities. I think I can speak for all the vegans out there by saying ‘THANK YOU’ for altering your career trajectory and devoting so much energy to creating these amazing plant-based recipes.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hey Jamie! Wow that is such a sweet comment, and I can feel your enthusiasm about this queso through the screen! Love it! :)

  9. Vidya

    5 stars
    This is so yummy! I didn’t have pickled jalapeños, so I substituted with one Serrano pepper. And I had some cashewmilk yogurt lying around, so I used that instead of coconut yogurt. It was delicious, and it’s so hard to resist eating it by the spoonfuls!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Vidya, we’re so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for leaving a review :)

  10. Mary-Beth

    5 stars
    This queso is otherworldy!!! I make it again and again!

  11. Alisa

    5 stars
    Delicious!!!!! I have just been eating it plain by the spoonful 🤣 soo good.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Lovely to hear you’re such a fan of the queso, Alisa! :)

  12. candice

    5 stars
    I have your instant pot recipe book and i made the queso version from the book and wow!!! It’s absolutely delicious. I was trying to mimic a queso that I recently had at a vegan restaurant and I remembered seeing a recipe in your book. I made it tonight and it taste way better than the restaurant version and so much healthier too! I definetly recommend your book! All of the recipes are full of flavor and are a big hit with my family and friends!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re thrilled to hear you find this queso better than restaurant quality, Candice! Thanks for following and trying the recipes :)

  13. Deb

    5 stars
    Excellent queso. My fmaily loves this and so it has gone into my menu rotation. Every 2-3 weeks, I top a plate of quinoa, black beans and roasted veggies with this.

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Deb, I love to hear when one of our recipes is added to a rotation! Sounds delicious, thank you for taking the time to leave a review.

  14. Sabina

    5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times and I love it! Even my husband who is not vegan or vegetarian said he liked it a few times! He said it made him feel better than “regular” nachos. Thank you!

    1. Hannah @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sabrina, thanks so much for taking the time to write such a lovely comment! This is one of our favorites too, so glad your husband’s stomach gives it a thumbs up too!

  15. Gabby L

    5 stars
    SO. GOOD. !! By far better than any store-bought vegan queso. I use Kite Hill vegan sour cream instead of coconut yogurt and it’s really delicious. It’s super easy to make and I use it as a substitute for cheese for several different mexican meals.

  16. Laura

    5 stars
    There are so many vegan cheese sauce recipes out there; this is one you want to make and keep making. I even made a sweet variation with peach puree instead of salsa and sans spices. (Tasted like a peach cream cheesy spread). Great template for a delicious consistent cheese spread. I’m going to make a ‘ricotta’ next time for vegan lasagna next week!!!! Love it!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Oooh how interesting! Thanks for sharing, Laura! :)

  17. ange

    5 stars
    First off I would like to say thank you. I have made many of your meals and they are all amazing. I do have one problem that I do not know how to solve. I am allergic to nuts. How can you make this recipe without cashews?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Ange, unfortunately this recipe requires nuts. We do have this nut-free vegan cheese sauce recipe we suggest you try out though!

  18. Mary

    Best vegan cheese recipe I’ve come across yet. I feel like most cashew cheese recipes usually taste just a little too nutty, but this one is the perfect queso. Could easily eat half the batch with just chips!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Mary, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  19. Angie Q

    5 stars
    The only vegan cheese queso that actually tastes good! Tried this recipe over the weekend and absolutely love it!! Will be testing it dairy lovers and see what they thing, but I have a feeling they will love it!

    Thank you Nisha for all your wonderful recipes. Love your stuff and how excited you are about the dishes you create. The potato salad recipe is next on my list! :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Angie! Glad to hear you’re a fan of the recipes. We can’t wait for you to try the potato salad :)

  20. Ryley W

    5 stars
    I had some of this hanging out in my fridge and decided to improvise. I threw some oatmilk into a sauté pan, added a few spoonfuls of the queso, and whisked until it thickened. Threw some cooked pasta in at the end and had a decadent vegan Mac and Cheese. You would swear it was made with a béchamel.

    Moral of the story, make this every week to have in your fridge, it can literally be used for everything ❤️❤️❤️

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it is literally changing my life 🤩

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Ryley, So glad to hear you love this recipe!

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