Plate of blue and yellow corn tortilla chips with a bowl of vegan queso

Chile con Queso – or just “queso” for short – is the ultimate guilty pleasure. What else would you expect from a name that translates to “chile with cheese.” This tasty molten treat is smooth, creamy, and just thick enough to cling to a chip. The best queso is also nice and salty and packs some spice from jalapeño (or other green chilis). “But what about the cheese?”, we hear you ask. Well, we’re happy to say – you don’t need it! This is an excellent vegan queso recipe that everyone will devour! This dip will have you hooked from the very first scoop!

Is Vegan Queso Good?

Well, in two words: AAAAW, YEAH!

But OK, we’ll be more specific. In our opinion, this recipe makes queso that is every bit as good as the non-vegan original. Sure, we’re biased, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true! The texture is just like the queso you’d get at your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. It might also remind you of “nacho cheese” sauce. The flavor is also deceptively cheesy – and all without a drop of dairy. So, this might lead you to ask …

What is this Queso Made Of?

Ingredients including soaked raw cashews, jalapeño peppers, cumin, chili flakes, salt, water and plant-based cheese.

The base for this recipe is cashew cream! We recommend using raw nuts because roasted cashews won’t soften as well. Raw cashews are also left with their fats intact, which helps them keep for longer.

Next comes the tasty heart of the dish – a generous portion of vegan cheese! This is what gives the dip its lovely cheesy flavor. Our favorite is Follow Your Heart cheddar style shreds, but brands like Daiya and Chao also make great vegan cheese.

To complete the dip, we layer in flavors by adding salt, chili flakes, ground cumin, and fresh jalapeño peppers. Please feel free to get creative here – your chilis can be as hot (or mild) as you like, and they don’t need to be green. Also, on the subject of color, you can add a little turmeric to make your queso more “yellow.” Just don’t add too much, because the flavor will get a little strange.

How to Make Vegan Queso

So, we’ve described the ingredients. Now, let’s discuss how to put it all together.

Blender filled with soaked cashews, spices, and green chili peppers. There is a bowl of vegan cheese to the side.

First, we soak the cashews. You’ll get the mildest flavor if you use cool water and soak for 3+ hours. Note that the longer you leave the cashews, the softer they will be. Alternatively, you can do a quick (1 hour) soak in hot water (i.e., just off the boil). This works fast, but the added heat will give the cashews a stronger flavor that you might not enjoy.

When the soaking is done, be sure to discard the soaking water. This is because many of the things that leach from the cashews are not great for digestion and nutrient absorption.

Like the rest of this recipe, the process for making smooth chile con queso is simple. First, you simply blast the cashews, spices and chili peppers in a high-speed blender. As a result, the cashews form a creamy emulsion of fats and protein. Note: we find that a high-speed blender (like our Vitamix) makes the best cashew cream. Lower powered blenders, or food processors, may leave your queso a little grainy.

By the time everything is completely smooth, you’ll notice the mixture has warmed up. This is the perfect point to add vegan cheese. This is because the warmth melts the cheese and helps it mix into the dip. After one final spin in the blender, your vegan queso recipe should be finished. If it’s a little too thick for your tastes, just add more water (about a tablespoon at a time).

Blender filled with vegan queso and vegan cheese

What to do with Your Queso

This is where the fun begins! You chile con queso is useful anywhere you’d usually sprinkle cheese! Here are just a few ideas from the almost limitless selection!

  • Pour it on tacos, nachos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas … (you get the idea!)
  • Use it for dipping chips and fries
  • Ladle it onto veggies (potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower to name a few)
  • Smear it on a delicious veggie burger
  • Serve it in a salsa bar with tomato salsa, salsa verde, pico de gallo and guacamole
  • Remove the peppers and use it as a creamy cheese sauce in lasagne, mac & cheese, alfredo, and other creamy pasta recipes

How Long Will this Queso Last?

Finally, let’s talk about how long this will keep …

  • Vegan queso will be good for up to 5 days if stored in the fridge.
  • If you can’t get through it in that amount of time, then it can be frozen for at least a month.
  • To reheat it from the fridge, use the stovetop or microwave (stick to gentle heat).
  • However, to reheat from frozen, you’ll need to thaw it overnight first, then warm it in the same way.
Bowl of vegan queso

Now you know how to make the perfect creamy, cheesy and vegan replacement for chile con queso. Once you’ve tried this we believe you’ll never look back! Let us know if we’re right, with a rating and a comment! Every bit of feedback makes The Plant Riot even better!

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How to make Vegan Queso | Creamy, Spicy + Delicious!

Bowl of vegan queso

This vegan chile con “queso” recipe creates a warm, cheesy dip that will leave you wanting more! Try it with tortilla chips, tacos, burritos or even pizza and pasta!

  • Author: Andrew Pow | The Plant Riot
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes + soaking
  • Total Time: 10 minutes + soaking
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Soak the raw cashews using one of the following methods:
    • Cover with cool water and place in the fridge overnight
    • Cover with cool water and sit at room temperature for 3-4 hrs
    • Cover with near-boiling water and sit for 1 hr
    • TIP: if the cashews are soft enough you’ll be able to squash them between your fingers.
  2. Drain cashews and place into a high powdered blender with 1/4 cup water, jalapeño peppers, chili flakes, ground cumin and salt.
  3. Blend on medium-high until smooth and creamy (around 2-3 minutes). The mixture will warm up as it blends.
  4. Sprinkle in the grated vegan cheese and extra water (add 1/4 cup of water to begin, then add more as needed to achieve the desired consistency).
  5. Blend for another 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted and the vegan queso is super smooth, creamy and warm.
  6. Pour vegan queso into a bowl and serve while still warm. Enjoy wherever you’d normally add cheese!

Notes

  • Vegan queso will be good for up to 5 days if stored in the fridge. If you can’t get through it in that amount of time, then it can be frozen for at least a month. To reheat the queso from the fridge, use the stovetop or microwave (stick to gentle heat). However, to reheat from frozen, you’ll need to thaw it overnight first, then warm it in the same way.
  • Nutritional information is to be used as a guide only as calories and nutrition vary between products and brands worldwide.

Keywords: vegan queso, chile con queso, vegan queso recipe, The Plant Riot

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