Vegan Queso Fresco is a fresh and mild-tasting vegan cheese perfect for crumbling on top of Mexican dishes, salads, soups and veggies. Made with just 4 ingredients (plus water and salt), preparing this versatile vegan cheese is easy! It's also oil-free, gluten-free and suitable for whole-food, plant-based diets.
I first shared the recipe for this Almond Queso Fresco as part of my Smoky White Bean Tacos post. In fact, the cheese was the inspiration for the tacos instead of the other way around.
I wanted a soft and creamy vegan cheese that would hold its shape after setting but would also crumble well, like a traditional queso fresco or blanco or feta. And raw slivered almonds accomplished this perfectly! This is essentially the same basic cheese as my Almond Ricotta with the addition of a small amount of agar powder plus a few minutes of cook time.
Equipment Needed to Make Almond Queso Fresco
- food processor
- stove and small pot
- ramekin or other small bowl to serve as a mold
4 Easy Steps of Preparation
- soak the slivered almonds in hot water for 1 hour (or overnight in room temperature water)
- process the ingredients in a food processor until fluffy
- cook over medium heat until bubbling to activate the agar
- pour into a mold and chill for at least 30 minutes
I love recipes that are short, sweet and simple, don't you? In the photos above you can see the progression in consistency as the cheese cooks. This only takes a few minutes. The idea is to bring the mixture just to boiling temperature so that the agar is activated and will set the cheese.
Then simply spoon the cheese into one or two ramekins, depending on their size (I made a double-batch which is why there are three small ramekins in the photos), smooth the tops, and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you don't plan to use the cheese right away, cover it once it's cool.
When you're ready to serve your Vegan Queso Fresco simply run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, flip it over and plop that beautiful round of light and fresh almond cheese onto a platter.
What does Vegan Queso Fresco taste like, and does it melt?
Not a strong cheese, Almond Queso Fresco is light, salty, very mildly acidic, and both creamy yet textured. It pairs well with dishes that are spicy and/or smoky, foods that are complemented by a cool element. In addition to Mexican recipes, it's also perfect for spicy Indian dishes (think paneer).
If you wanted to add more lemon juice or vinegar, this would be a perfect base for creating a stronger, feta-style vegan cheese. But since this cheese was originally intended as a topping for my Smoky White Bean Tacos, it made sense to keep the flavor profile more subtle.
The term "queso fresco" is Spanish for "fresh cheese," and is often used interchangeably with queso blanco (white cheese). Similar to traditional queso fresco, this particular vegan cheese isn't meant for melting. It's best used cool, as a topping for dishes that are already cooked.
I did wonder whether this was the best name for this almond cheese, but after considering the similarities in flavor profiles and descriptions, it seemed like a really good fit. Queso Fresco is referred to as a creamy, fresh, bright white, unaged mild cheese and is primarily used as a cooling element in hot, spicy, and rich dishes.
The day I shot the photos for the Smoky White Bean Tacos, I used an over-sized ramekin as a mold for the cheese. You can see that it's a shorter, bigger wheel. But you can use any sort of small round dish that you have on hand.
Keep in mind that something with straight sides might be easier when you're ready to turn the cheese out onto a plate because you'll be able to run a knife all the way around the edge. Of course, if you're just going to crumble the cheese anyway, it doesn't matter how it looks or whether you remove it from the mold.
Now it's time to think about all the delicious ways you can use dairy-free queso fresco, like spicy soups and chili, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, nachos, curries, noodle dishes, salads, PIZZA, and even as a spread for crackers and toast!
I hope you love this vegan cheese as much as we do. I would love to hear from you if you try it. You can leave a comment below, rate the recipe, and even share a photo of your vegan cheese on instagram -----> tag @myquietkitchen so I don't miss it!
Vegan Queso Fresco (crumble-style cheese)
- 1 cup raw slivered almonds (skin-free), soaked overnight or quick-soaked in hot water for 1 hour
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp agar powder
- Drain the soaked almonds. Place in a food processor with the lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, and water. Process until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. It's okay to maintain a small amount of almond texture. Add the agar powder to the processor and pulse several times to incorporate.
- Transfer the mixture to a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking or stirring constantly. When you see some bubbling and know the mixture has reached boiling temperature, remove from heat and pour into ramekins or a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will be set and ready to use in about 30 minutes.