This mind-blowing creamy Vegan Queso has convinced me: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. As soon as you take a bite of this luxuriously creamy, hopelessly addictive, and (yes I am going to say it) cheesy dip that does not, in fact, contain cheese, you’ll agree with me that life (at least easy vegan queso life) has no limits.
I’d seen vegan white queso dip recipes floating around the web through the years, but I couldn’t reconcile them with a certain illustrious two-ingredient cheese dip recipe of my youth. If you grew up in the Midwest, you know the one.
If you need a hint, the primary ingredient in this starts with a “Velv” and ends with an “eeta.”
I decided to see if I could come up with a recipe for a queso dip that would be:
- Just as creamy, cheesy and addictive as the notorious V-word.
- Contain ZERO processed cheese.
- Made with entirely plant-based, wholesome ingredients.
- Guaranteed to be licked clean at any party, whether or not your guests are vegan.
How to Make Vegan Queso
In creating this vegan queso recipe, I recalled a delightful cashew-based mac and cheese that I tried at a vegan spot in New York City (SO GOOD) and combined it with the lessons I learned creating this Instant Pot Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. The Result? Pure magic!
- Cashews. The majority of vegan queso recipes I found are made almost exclusively with raw cashews, which, when blended with liquid, have a velvety, rich texture that is extraordinarily similar to melted cheese. Cashews’ flavor, however, is much more mild, and I didn’t feel like it would create a vegan queso with the same level of mmmmmm that I’m after when I sink my chip into a hot bowl of melty cheese.
- Cauliflower. The solution: roasted cauliflower!
- Taco Seasoning. Add spice, a little heat and serious complexity to the queso. I selected a low-sodium variety to better control the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Onions and Garlic. Add some extra bite and zip to this “cheesy” dip.
- Nutritional Yeast. The secret vegan ingredient that gives this queso it’s cheesy flavor. If you’ve never eaten nutritional yeast before, it has a salty, Parmesan-like taste. Try it in any one of these recipes with nutritional yeast.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes. Adds extra moisture and flavor. If you want extra heat, opt for a can that contains diced jalapenos or green chiles.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Then, season and roast the cauliflower, onions and garlic.
- In a blender combine the soaked cashews, roasted vegetables, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons taco seasoning. Blend until smooth.
- Warm through (either in your blender if it has a warming setting or over medium heat on the stovetop in a saucepan).
- Stir in the drained tomatoes or salsa.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with desired toppings and serve with chips or veggies. ENJOY!
How to Make Vegan Queso for a Crowd
This recipe yields a large batch of vegan queso (about 6 cups), so it works well for a large party.
You can keep it warm in a small crockpot to serve with chips or raw veggies if that’s more your style, drizzle it over a big plate of nachos (YUM), or use it to make your own homemade cheese fries.
How to Store and Reheat
- To Store. Store cooled leftover queso in an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Gently reheat on the stove or in the microwave, stirring frequently, until warmed through.
Since this Vegan Queso is healthy (hello cashews and cauliflower!), I also felt quite virtuous snacking on it with carrots (and FINE, chips) for a midafternoon snack. We also use the leftovers to top baked potatoes and even amp up non-vegan favorites like these Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos.
- 5 cups cauliflower florets from about 1 medium head cauliflower
- 4 cloves garlic peeled but left whole
- 1 medium yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium seasoning (plus 1 1/2 teaspoons) divided (check labels to ensure it's 100% dairy free)
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in cool water for at least 4 hours or overnight or in boiling hot water for 1 hour and drained (for quicker alternatives or if you have a high-powered blender, see Notes)
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice, plus additional as needed
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt omit if using regular taco seasoning or add to taste
- 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies (10 ounce can) , drained, or 1 1/4 cups well-drained chunky salsa
- Optional toppings: sliced jalapeño fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, finely chopped red onion
- Place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and coat two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons taco seasoning. Toss to coat, and then divide evenly between the two baking sheets. Spread each into a single layer so that the veggies do not overlap. Roast until golden and tender, about 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through and switching the pans’ positions on the upper and lower rack.
- Transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender, and add in the soaked cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons taco seasoning. Blend until very smooth, adding water a few tablespoons at a time as needed to reach your desired consistency. (I added about 1/2 cup water for a very thick queso.)
- If your blender has a heating feature, continue blending until the mixture is hot. If not, pour the queso into a saucepan and heat over medium on the stove until very warm.
- Stir in the drained tomatoes or salsa. Taste and add kosher salt or a little bit of additional taco seasoning as desired.
- To serve as a dip, transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with desired toppings. Enjoy!
- If you have a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, you can likely skip soaking the cashews completely (my KitchenAid high-powered blender has no trouble breaking them down). If you don’t have a high-powered blender but are still in a hurry, I have also read that you can grind the cashews in the blender until they resemble a fine powder (stop before they turn into cashew butter). Heat 1 1/2 cups of the broth (or water) on the stove, and then pour the hot broth into the blender and blend until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender and sputtering). Proceed by adding the other ingredients.
- Serving Ideas: For nachos, drizzle the queso generously over a bed of tortilla chips and garnish as desired (place in the oven for a few minutes to make extra warm if you like). This vegan queso is also delicious over fries, baked potatoes, and roasted vegetables.
- Store cooled leftover queso in an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Gently reheat on the stove or in the microwave, stirring frequently, until warmed through.
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