Easy, delicious, low-fat vegan queso you'll want to put on everything. And it's so quick and healthy you can! Just blend, heat, and you're ready to roll. So grab some tortilla chips, and get ready for some supremely delicious snacking. Oil-free, WFPB, gluten-free, soy-free, and pantry-friendly.
Vegan Queso - What's To Love
The better question is what’s NOT to love about this easy vegan queso! Aside from the obvious perk that it's dairy-free, this cashew queso is also ridiculously easy to make.
No need to prep or cook any vegetables like potatoes and carrots, which are often used in vegan cheese sauces. This queso dip is made with common pantry staples, which means you can whip up a cheesy, creamy batch in minutes.
Another thing we really love about homemade vegan queso is the versatility.
The recipe I'm sharing today is one of my favorite ways to make vegan queso, but once you know the basic formula for creating this creamy dip, you can tailor it to suit your taste or to accommodate the ingredients you have on hand.
For example, not into spiciness? Omit the chipotle and choose a mild salsa.
Want more heat? Increase the chipotle flakes or add chipotle in adobo sauce.
Don't have smoked paprika? Leave it out and choose a smoky, chipotle salsa.
Love cumin? Double it!
Want a thicker, richer, more decadent vegan queso? Increase the cashews and maybe even add some Violife or Chao cheese to the blender.
Sometimes you want a recipe that tastes as MUCH like the traditional version as possible and I'm all about that! This vegan mac and cheese is a great example.
If you’re looking for a more indulgent queso recipe as an alternative to this one, I totally get it. Sometimes you're having people over or going to a party where you just want to impress them with epic vegan party food.
BUT I also love having healthier versions of our favorite dishes, ones we can whip up for ourselves on a regular old Tuesday just because we want cheese sauce. That's what today's recipe is all about.
Ingredients in Vegan Queso
What's in oil-free vegan queso? Just 9 ingredients (plus water and salt):
- raw cashews - or use raw cashew butter if you don't have a high-speed blender
- tapioca starch - this thickens the dip and gives it that melty, stretchy, cheesy quality
- nutritional yeast - adds subtle cheesy flavor and umami
- lemon juice or rice vinegar - or use apple cider vinegar, if needed
- dried chipotle flakes - this is one of our favorite spices to keep on hand; it adds amazing smoky flavor
- smoked paprika
- garlic powder
How to Make Cheese Sauce Without Milk
Most of the ingredients called for in this Oil-Free Vegan Queso recipe are shelf-stable. In other words, once you purchase the tapioca starch, smoked paprika, etc, you're all set!
When the mood strikes, just gather up the ingredients, and you're minutes away from a healthy vegan cheese dip. I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty awesome. Sort of a vegan superpower, if you will!
For this recipe we are using cashews and water as our base. If you need a nut-free option for this type of dip, other possible options are a blend of cannellini beans, raw sunflower seeds, and/or rolled oats.
Prep flows like this:
- Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until velvety smooth.
- Whisking frequently, cook the queso over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the tapioca starch has thickened.
Then dig in!
Ways to Use Vegan Queso
In addition to being a delicious dip, cashew queso pairs well with so many other foods. Try it on:
- baked or roasted potatoes and french fries
- rice and bean taco bowls
- roasted brussels sprouts (skip the balsamic glaze)
- roasted broccoli (skip the vegan Parm)
- seitan "chicken" nuggets
- baked taquitos
- Tex-Mex chickpea burgers
- and air fryer stuffed peppers
We make this queso dip regularly and haven't gotten tired of it yet! The cheesy flavor is truly so good. I hope you love it, too.
If you experiment with the spices and find a combo you enjoy I would love to hear about it! Drop a comment below, and rate the recipe to leave your feedback.
Cheers to dairy-free snacking!
If you like Mexican flavors, check out these easy Smoky White Bean Tacos With Almond Queso Blanco.
More vegan cheese recipes:
- Vegan Pimento Cheese (a must try!)
- Vegan Feta Cheese
- No-Cook Vegan Cheese Sauce
- 5-Minute Vegan Cottage Cheese
- Easy Vegan Mozzarella
- 2-Ingredient Almond Ricotta
- Almond Queso Blanco (crumble-style vegan cheese)
- Vegan Parm 3 Ways
Easy Oil-Free Vegan Queso
- 1 ¼ cups water
- ⅓ cup raw cashews (if you don't have a high speed blender, sub 3 Tbsp raw cashew butter)
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (sub 1 Tbsp corn starch if necessary) - *Tapioca starch provides the thick and stretchy element to this cheese sauce.
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 2 tsp plain rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon chipotle flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cumin
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (start with lesser amount; taste and adjust after adding salsa)
- ½ cup thick and chunky salsa or salsa of choice
- For smooth queso: combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. For chunky queso: combine all ingredients except salsa in a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Pour mixture into a small sauce pan. If making chunky queso, add the salsa now. Stirring frequently, cook over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until the queso has thickened. Taste and add more salsa if desired. Serve immediately.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.