With just a handful of easy to find ingredients, this vegan queso nacho cheese is creamy, dreamy, and seriously delicious.
One of my favorite parts of eating at Mexican restaurants is the queso. Very few times have I skipped a chips and queso appetizer! I’ve never been able to recreate the flavor at home, which has always restricted my queso snackin’ to Mexican restaurants.
I decided that it was time to get over the queso slump and learn how to make my own delicious bowl of liquid gold. I went through this recipe a few times before landing on a combination that I loved enough to share with the world!
And, let me tell you. This vegan queso is incredible. The base is made from cashews (a popular vegan cheese ingredient) and is seasoned with garlic, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, hot sauce, and nutritional yeast. There’s also a carrot snuck in there to give it that classic golden color!
Here’s what you’ll need
This vegan queso uses five main ingredients along with a handful of spices. Apart from preparing your cashews and carrot, it’s a one-and-done recipe that just requires a bit of blending.
- Cashews: Cashews will make up the base of this recipe, creating an ultra-creamy consistency. Be sure to give yourself time to soak them (best if soaked overnight before making this recipe).
- Carrot: We’ll be using a carrot in this recipe to add color. Don’t worry, your queso won’t taste like carrots!
- Water: ¾ to 1 cup of water will work as the liquid that will help give the queso its consistency.
- Nutritional Yeast: To add cheesy flavor and a boost of nutrition, we’ll be using nutritional yeast.
- Hot Sauce: Feel free to use the sauce of your choice. I like to use smoky adobo sauce (from a jar of chipotle peppers), but other options include harissa and standard hot sauce.
- Garlic: One clove of garlic will help season this recipe to perfection.
- Seasonings: Finally add a ¼ tsp of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt for a delicious finish!
How to make Vegan queso
Only three short steps stand between you and your new favorite queso. After you soak your cashews, expect to spend no more than 8 minutes preparing this recipe.
- Soak the cashews: Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them soak overnight. Alternatively, you can soak them in very hot water for an hour. Strain before using.
- Prepare the carrot: Chop the carrot into chunks and set it in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a dash of water and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until the carrot is fork-tender.
- Blend the ingredients: Add the drained cashews, drained carrot, water, nutritional yeast, garlic, and spices to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to reach a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
Tips for making the best homemade nacho cheese
Here are a few queso-makin’ tips that should help you take your recipe to the next level!
Extra topping ideas
You can add a variety of toppings to this queso. I like to sprinkle on a few jalapeño slices, some diced tomatoes, and a pinch of cilantro! You can also use chopped green onions, green chilies, diced onion, or even chopped bell pepper!
How to fix watery queso
Try to avoid a watery consistency altogether by starting with a fraction of your water when blending, and then adding more as needed. But if you do go heavy handed on the water, you can fix it! Simply blend in more cashews, if you have them.
How to store queso
Store leftover queso in the refrigerator for up to one week. Keep sealed in a closed container to maintain freshness. To heat, place in a microwave-safe dish and microwave in 10 second intervals.
Meals to enjoy with vegan queso
Vegan nacho cheese can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes. Here are a few that I like to eat with it! Spoon a bit into your tacos or drizzle a dash into your burrito for a delicious finishing touch.
- Roasted Cauliflower Street Tacos
- Mexican Sheet Pan Supper
- Vegan Burritos with Taco Meat and Queso
- Roasted Beet and Chickpea Tacos
- 1 cup cashews 150 g
- 1 carrot
- ¾ to 1 cup water 175 to 240 mL
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast 30 g
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce like adobo sauce (my favorite), harissa, or hot sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ tsp each chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt
- Soak: Place cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight, either on the counter or in the fridge. (Alternatively, soak in very hot water for an hour). Strain before using.
- Carrot: Chop carrot into chunks and set in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a dash of water and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until carrot is fork-tender.
- Blend: Add drained cashews, drained carrot, ¾ cup water, nutritional yeast, garlic, and spices to a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to reach a smooth, sauce like consistency.