This recipe for Creamy Vegan Queso is an instant party starter for any occasion! No Tex-Mex meal is complete without this liquid gold. Gooey, velvety, spicy, and savory, you’ll never miss the dairy with this healthy plant-based option on the table.

Dipping a tortilla chip into vegan queso

There’s no question that queso is beloved across the nation. It can be an appetizer, side dish, condiment, or entrée depending on your mood, and your appetite for indulgence. Think of it as a spicy version of fondue, glowing from the warmth of chilies and bold spices.

Many traditional queso recipes begin with a roux, which is butter and flour cooked together to act as a thickener, but this one is MUCH easier and is completely gluten-free! Naturally rich cashews create a sauce so silky-smooth, it could make a béchamel blush.

Vegan queso with tortilla chips

Why You’ll Love This Creamy Vegan Queso

What’s not to love about a spicy cheese sauce? Here are just a few reasons you’ll be hooked:

  • Full of veggie goodness. Believe it or not, carrots are the secret ingredient creating that glorious golden glow! It’s never been easier (or tastier) to sneak in your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and an extra serving of fiber.
  • Luscious creamy texture at any temperature. The problem with conventional queso is that as it cools, it gets clumpy and congealed. Not so for vegan queso! This blend stays silky smooth no matter what.
  • Ready in 15 minutes or less. Just simmer, blend, and serve! You’re minutes away from a fiesta at any time.
  • Gets better with age. Like a fine wine, this queso only gets more flavorful as it sits. The spices mingle and meld, becoming deeper and more balanced, which makes it an excellent candidate to make ahead.
Ingredients for vegan queso

Notes on Ingredients

Please note that this is important information on the ingredients and instructions and the FULL recipe with amounts and details can be found DOWN BELOW (scroll to it) in the recipe card.

  • Nutritional yeast – Otherwise known as “nooch” for short, this indispensable flaky yellow powder is the key to creating cheesy, buttery flavor without any dairy. You can find it with the spices and seasonings or in the baking aisle in most grocery stores.
  • Olive oil
  • Carrot
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Cashews – Raw, unsalted cashews create a rich, creamy texture when blended smooth. Soak them overnight or at least 8 hours in advance to ensure the best results.
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Dry mustard – In a pinch, you can use an equal amount of prepared Dijon mustard instead.
  • Lime juice
  • Liquid aminos, tamari, or capers
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Pickled jalapeños – You can substitute fresh if you’d prefer a sharper bite.
  • Unsweetened almond milk

How to Make Vegan Queso

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add carrots, onions, and garlic. Cover let cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are fork tender.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Transfer the carrot mixture to a high-speed blender along with all the remaining ingredients.
  • Blend on full power for about 2 minutes, until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  • Top with extra jalapeños as a garnish. Enjoy!

Tips for Success

You can’t go wrong with this foolproof formula for vegan queso. Master the craft by considering the following notes:

  • Add spices to taste. If you’re a serious heat-seeker, dial up the paprika and cayenne, or add in a splash of your favorite hot sauce until you feel the burn!
  • Make it nut-free. In case of allergies, you can swap the cashews for raw sunflower seeds and use any other type of unsweetened non-dairy milk.
  • Top it off! Add a dollop of salsa or pico de gallo right in the center for fresher flavor and texture.

Do I Need a High-Powered Blender for This Recipe?

While a high-speed blender makes quick work of even the hardest ingredients, transforming them into flawlessly smooth sauces with the push of a button, you don’t need any fancy equipment to make fantastic queso.

A standard blender or food processor will also do the trick. It may take 10 to 15 minutes to get the same results and be sure to pause periodically and scrape down the sides of the canister with your spatula to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Vegan queso with tortilla chips

What To Serve With Dairy-Free Queso

Queso is best known as the perfect sidekick to tortilla chips, but it’s so much more than just a stand-alone dip.

  • Chips, beyond tortilla chips, including pita chips, potato chips, are still a solid choice and always the easiest approach.
  • Cut vegetable crudité offers a lighter, lower calorie option for indulging, such as celery sticks, baby carrots, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips, sliced radishes, and more.
  • Nachos are practically begging for a thick blanket of rich queso. Pile on the salsa and all your favorite toppings!
  • Burritos and burrito bowls are prime candidates for smothering with this cheesy sauce.
  • Tacos and taco salads alike can benefit from some extra gooey goodness. Drizzle queso on top of tacos like crema, or over salads like dressing.
  • Toss with pasta to make mac and cheese with a spicy kick!

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Let the queso cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Stored in the fridge, it will keep for up to 5 days. To reheat, warm in the microwave for 60 – 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth and warm all the way through.

Closeup of vegan queso

Can I Freeze Cashew Queso?

Unlike traditional dairy-based queso cheese sauce, cashew queso can be frozen and revived beautifully! It will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer stored in an airtight container. Don’t forget to label it with the date! When you’re ready to serve, let it thaw out overnight in the fridge before reheating according to the directions above.

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Dipping a tortilla chip into vegan queso

Creamy Vegan Queso

The easiest, cheesiest vegan queso starts with cashews. You'll never believe it's dairy-free!
5 (from 4 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, halved and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight, then drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamari, liquid aminos, or capers
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk or preferred nut milk

Instructions 

  • In a pan over medium heat, heat the oil add in the carrots, onions and the garlic, stirring to combine. Cover with lid and allow to steam/roast until carrots are tender,about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • In a large high speed blender add the carrot mixture,cashews, salt and pepper, ground mustard, lime juice, tamari, nutritional yeast, paprika, ground chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, chopped pickled jalapeños,tomato and almond milk.
  • Blend together in a high powered blender for about 2minutes on a strong speed, until sauce is completely smooth and incorporate. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Top with extra jalapeños as a garnish. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Add spices to taste. If you’re a serious heat-seeker, dial up the paprika and cayenne, or add in a splash of your favorite hot sauce until you feel the burn!
  • Make it nut-free. In case of allergies, you can swap the cashews for raw sunflower seeds and use any other type of unsweetened non-dairy milk.
  • Top it off! Add a dollop of salsa or pico de gallo right in the center for fresher flavor and texture.
Calories: 182kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Sodium: 650mg, Potassium: 319mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2460IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 99mg, Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.