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 122 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 122 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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5 from 122 votes (48 ratings without comment)

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181 comments on Vegan Queso

  1. Kddd

    5 stars
    Delicious!! This is the best queso recipe. I made this tonight with Nisha’s Super Bowl nacho recipe. These were incredible! Can’t wait to make again. Thank you for another winner!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the awesome review! :) It’s awesome to hear the queso was a hit.

  2. Brenda

    I don’t like yogurt of any kind. Is there a substitute I could use in place of the yogurt in this recipe.
    Thanks, Brenda

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Brenda, A small amount of coconut cream with a few squeezes of lime juice would work. We hope you get to try this recipe!

      1. Brenda

        Thanks!

  3. Steph

    I live in a somewhat rural area and cannot find plain coconut yogurt. In fact, I cannot find any plain non-dairy yogurts. What do you suggest as a substitute?
    Thank you! I really want to try this recipe…looks delicious!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Steph, A small amount of coconut cream with a few squeezes of lime juice would work. We hope you get to try this recipe!

      1. Steph

        Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try this!

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          You’re welcome. Steph! Enjoy!

  4. Brenda

    5 stars
    Planning to make this tonight. I have sliced jalapeños in a jar is that so different than the pickled jalapeños?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Brenda, sorry we are getting back to you so late! The jarred jalapeños you can get at the store covered in brine are the pickled jalapeños Nisha calls for in this recipe. I hope you enjoyed the queso!

  5. Kristen Hodges

    Delicious! Thank you for posting this. I love it!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Kristen! 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!

  6. Nikki

    5 stars
    Hands down the best vegan queso I have ever tasted!! I will continue having this as a staple in my fridge at all times. Non vegans thoroughly enjoyed at my family Christmas as well. Thank you Nisha :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aw, thanks for the kind words, Nikki! :)

  7. Mat

    5 stars
    This is sensational. Beat the non-vegan alternative hands-down in a blind taste test with a highly fussy panel (my teenage kids). Had it with crunch wraps tonight and we are planning the week around how to use it all up!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Mat! :)

  8. Kerri

    Help, my queso turned out super runny and thin, so I added vegan cream cheese to thicken, and it’s terribly grainy. Where did I go wrong? I soaked my cashews and used a food processor.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Kerri, we’re sorry to hear the queso didn’t go as you’d expected! Unfortunately cashews are quite tricky to blend up without a high powered blender, and the final product can turn out quite grainy. You can try soaking the cashews longer next time and boiling the cashews for 30 minutes and maybe try using a blender if you have access to it?

      We also have a nut-free cheese sauce recipe you could try out if your food processor/blender isn’t up to the task.

      We hope that helped!

  9. Alice

    This is absolutely The Best queso sauce! I make it every week, and use it in quesadillas, tacos, burritos, etc. Soooo yummy!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Alice! 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!

  10. Paige Oliveto

    5 stars
    Every time I make this queso, I am shocked by how easy it is- and yet so flavorful. Defintiely the best vegan queso recipe I’ve ever had, and now a staple in my house. Vegans and non- vegans love it ! Another absolute win from Nisha.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Paige, Thank you for your thoughtful review! We’re so happy to hear that everyone’s enjoying the queso. :)

  11. Melinda McCabe

    5 stars
    We LOVE this vegan queso. Use it in nachos and air fryer fries. Good taco salad salad dressing!
    Another HIT!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  12. Dani

    Hello! By salsa, do you mean something like the chopped veggies topping for tacos, or do you mean a sauce (pourable)? I’m always confused when someone mentions salsa in English, as that just means sauce, any sauce, in Spanish!

    Thank you for sharing so many awesome recipes <3

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Dani, we mean tomato salsa! Chopped tomatoes mixed/blended with onion, garlic, spices, lime, jalapeno, etc! Enjoy the queso :)

      1. Dani

        5 stars
        Got it, thanks! I used a pomarola sauce and extra jalapeños, and the queso turned out awesome! We had it with bean&quinoa tacos for dinner and it was delicious.

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Yay, we’re glad everyone loved the queso! That dinner sounds very tasty :)

  13. Ana Soares

    5 stars
    Just made it today, it was so delicious!!! I just skipped the jalapeños because I don’t like it, and added a mango salsa, it turned out amazing!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Ana. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  14. Le Carcajou

    5 stars
    I used 130g cashew homemade cashew butter instead of the raw cashews. It works great i Love it !
    Big UP from France !

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re happy that worked out for you, Le!

  15. Anne Brink

    Another absolutely delicious recipe by Nisha! This really does taste like Queso. I paired it with her recipe for Mexican black beans and made a quesadilla on an almond flour wrap with guac. I already had the beans prepared so I had a delish and oh so very comforting dinner in about 25 minutes. Love that there was enough leftovers for my lunch and another hearty serving or 2 thereafter :) Looking forward to bringing this to upcoming Fall parties with some tortilla chips!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely review, Anne! It’s wonderful to hear you’re a fan of the recipe :)

  16. Matylda

    5 stars
    Best cheesy sauce I’ve ever tasted! I’ve been making this recipe over and over again and never getting bored of it :)

  17. Sheela

    Make this regularly, great recipe! Why specifically coconut yogurt? Can’t you use any vegan plain yogurt?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sheela, we’re so happy you love it! We use coconut yogurt for its tangy, light flavor that it brings to the queso. Other plain vegan yogurts may lend a slightly different flavor, but we still think it would be a nice queso since the salsa, nutritional yeast, and pickled jalapenos will offer the primary flavors.

      Please let us know what you think if you try it with another yogurt! 

  18. Robin D

    5 stars
    I make this all the time, now and each time it makes me so happy. It is DELICIOUS! I have made with modifications based on what is in my refrigerator and have made it following the recipe exactly. It never disappoints. Thank you for this amazing recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Robin. Thank you for leaving a review!

  19. Eva

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! I substituted 3/4 tsp of cajun seasoning in place of 1/2 tsp chili powder called for in the recipe, everything else I left the same. Glad I made that substitute as it gave the queso a greater depth of flavor. Love your recipes Nisha, I have made many of your dishes and will continue to do so. You are always spot on with your spice levels too!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for all the wonderful compliments, Eva! We’re thrilled you love the queso- thanks for trying it and leaving a review!

  20. Ellie

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. I made it exactly as is even though I’m not vegan. I made it again with dairy yoghurt and it was equally as good.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re delighted to hear you love the recipe, Ellie!

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