Cashew-Less Vegan Queso

Cashew- Free Vegan Queso Dip! Made with a secret ingredient to keep it creamy, velvety and totally cashew, soy, gluten and dairy free! #vegan

It always happens. Just as I’m about to drift off to sleep at night, a recipe idea zings into my brain out of nowhere. This time, for vegan queso.

Roasted Eggplants

EXCITING NEWS.

I’ve tried vegan cheese based with cashews. It’s good, and it’s the first way I learned to mock cheese texture and flavor without using dairy. But I knew there had to be a better way.

I mean, not that I’m into counting calories, but cashews are very high in calories and fat and you can detect them in sauces unless you really build up the flavor from spices and otherwise.

So, the thought was, “What else is creamy but neutral and would make a good base for cheese sauce?”

The zinger I got at midnight whilst falling asleep: EGGPLANT!

Roasted Eggplant

Eggplant is amazingly versatile, especially once roasted. I enjoy it in pastas, whirled into baba ganoush or even roasted and layered into a hearty veggie sandwich. I adore the creaminess of baba ganoush and suspected its eggplant base would make an excellent base for vegan queso.

DING DING DING. I was correct.

Vegan Queso Recipe!

This sauce starts with roasted eggplant. I speed up the process by slicing it into thin rounds and broiling. A little steam in foil and then you can pull away the skin with ease. Then, just throw it into a blender with almond milk, nutritional yeast and a handful of spices and you’re good to go.

Look at that creamy queso goodness.

Vegan Cashew-less Queso Dip! Healthier and creamier than nut cheese and SO delicious!

A little cornstarch in the mix helps it thicken up once heated in a saucepan for serving. This is an optional step but I recommend it for that ultimate luxurious cheesy texture. (If you don’t use cornstarch, try another thickener, such as arrowroot powder.)

Easy Vegan Queso - CASHEW FREE! #VEGAN #GLUTENFREE

All that’s left to do is add in a few Tbsp of slightly drained Rotel (just like real queso dip!) or your favorite chunky salsa. This really sends the texture and flavor over the top to mock the real thing.

Rotel Vegan Queso Dip!Easy Vegan Queso Dip! Cashew, soy and glutenfree! #vegan #glutenfree

Oh. My. Word.

You’re not gonna believe how delicious this is. And guess what? HUSBAND APPROVED!

John tried it, and he doesn’t like cashew sauces, and he really liked this dip! We agreed that it was ridiculous how close it was to real queso dip. Seriously amazing!

Cashew-Less Vegan Queso! Thick, creamy, velvety and almost undetectably close to real queso!

So what does it taste like?

Creamy
Velvety
Savory
Super cheesy
Slightly spicy
Perfectly dippable
Totally pourable
Begging to be added to all your favorite dishes

Don’t worry. I have a few recipes in the works utilizing this dreamy dip! And another bonus, it reheats extremely well! If you’ve ever made cashew cheese you know it doesn’t exactly reheat well. But with this, you can just pop it in the microwave or put it back in a saucepan and it’s just as good!

Creamy Vegan Queso Dip! Cashew, Soy and Gluten Free! #vegan #glutenfree #queso

Yet ANOTHER bonus? This dip is cashew-, soy-, dairy-, and gluten-free!

And did I mention it’s way lighter in fat and calories than nut- and dairy-based quesos? Just 55 calories and 3.5 grams of (healthy) fat per serving! What’s not to love? Make this dip! And if you do, take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram so I can see! Cheers!

 

Cashewless-Vegan-Queso-DipTHE BEST Vegan Queso Dip! CASHEW FREE! Cashew, soy, gluten, dairy free and SO creamy and delicious!

4.2 from 49 reviews
Cashew-Less Vegan Queso
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, Sauce
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 7-9 rounds of eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick (~half of a medium eggplant)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1.5-2 cups unsweetened original almond milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (see instructions)
  • 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh garlic (I used crushed garlic from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (optional for thickening | sub another thickener if desired)
  • 1/4 cup chunky medium salsa, slightly drained (OR 1/4 10-ounce can of Rotel original diced tomatoes and green chilies)
  • OPTIONAL: Smoked paprika and hot sauce for added color and flavor upon serving.
Instructions
  1. Slice your eggplant into thin rounds just under 1/2 inch (not quite 1/4 inch), then sprinkle both sides of the flesh with a little sea salt and arrange in a colander to help draw out some of the moisture and bitterness. Let set for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with cool water and thoroughly pat dry between two clean towels.
  2. Preheat oven to high broil and place an oven rack near the top of the oven. Arrange the dried eggplant rounds on a baking sheet lightly spritzed with non-stick spray and drizzle both sides of the eggplant with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with a very small amount of salt.
  3. Broil on high for 4-5 minutes on each side, watching carefully as to not let them burn. Flip at the halfway point to ensure even cooking. Once the eggplant appears tender and both sides have golden brown color, remove from the oven and wrap loosely in foil to steam.
  4. After a few minutes, unwrap and peel the eggplant skin away. It should come right off. If you pack your roasted eggplant into a 1-cup measuring cup, it will be almost 1 cup.
  5. Place eggplant in a blender with the 1.5 cups (to start) almond milk, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder and cornstarch and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a pinch more sea salt and a little more nutritional yeast. To thin, add more almond milk.
  6. Transfer to a small saucepan and warm over medium to medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly – about 5 minutes. The longer you go the thicker it will become.
  7. NOTE: If it isn’t looking as thick as you want, thicken with a slurry of cornstarch by adding an additional 1 tsp cornstarch to a small bowl with a little almond milk and 2-3 Tbsp of the cheese mixture. Whisk to combine and then stir back into the pot. This should thicken it right up.
  8. Once hot and thickened, remove from heat and stir in DRAINED salsa or Rotel. Don’t put the liquid in or it will make it runny. Pour into a serving dish and top with a little smoked paprika and hot sauce for flavor/color.
  9. Serve with chips, crackers or veggies. Keep warm in a mini crockpot or over a tea light warmer if you have one. Microwaves well.
  10. Refrigerate and cover leftovers. Reheats extremely well in the microwave or in a saucepan. Will keep for up to a few days, but best when fresh.
Notes
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 6 servings.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ~1/4cup Calories: 55 Fat: 3.5g Saturated fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 4.7g Sugar: .7g Sodium: 326mg Fiber: 2g Protein: 2.3g

 

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Comments

    • Dana Shultz says

      Thanks, Andrea! I really adore the texture and consistency I got without cashews! Let me know if you give it a go.

  1. Patricia says

    LOVE IT!!! Do you think it will work with no sugar soy milk? Or the almond milk is crucial for the recipe? thanks!! :)

    • Dana Shultz says

      I think almond milk yields the best flavor and soy milk will definitely make it taste like soy. Perhaps try rice milk instead?

      • Maria Jose Guanella says

        What about coconut milk? If using rice milk, do you have a good recipe? . No rice milk available here.

        • Liesel Letzmann says

          I actually just made this for the first time ever with coconut milk. Since it’s my first attempt, I don’t have much to compare it to, but it really was delish!

  2. Meaghan says

    Holy queso! (My actual first thoughts when looking at this recipe)

    Second thought was “those are some good looking hands.”

    Yum. (Yum to the queso, not the hands)

  3. Timaree says

    I like that its soy free since I can’t have anything with soy anything in it anymore. My son might like this (being vegan and preferring fruits and veggies over cashew stuff anytime) but my daughter won’t be able to eat it as she’s allergic to yeast. It seems nothing is ever safe for everyone anymore. Do you think it matters if you use water instead of almond milk?

  4. jackie_blues says

    Great concept! I have a bit of an eggplant allergy, so I’m going to attempt something similar with a blend of zucchini and other mild veggies. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Elien says

    I also get the best ideas when I just got into bed, now there’s always pen and paper next to my bed :p.
    An awesome idea indeed.
    Nut- and tofufree AND creamy, win-win-win! I must try this soon.

  6. Sarah L. says

    Dana, you have me where you want me. I have been on a dip-makin’ kick lately, and it looks like this vegan queso will be my next conquest. Thank you! :)

  7. Lisa says

    I just signed up for your newsletter and am so thankful I did. This recipe is perfect. I love cashew cheese but was wishing for something with fewer calories and a little less of the “cashew” taste. I cannot wait to try it this weekend!

  8. Donna says

    JUST…O.M.G….THIS….is nothing short of a spectacular…original…life-changing culinary discovery on your part. Rabid clapping from France. Oh…et MERCI BIEN!!!

  9. says

    I don’t normally LOVE eggplant, but if it was in THIS then I could definitely make an exception. This sounds AWESOME. P.S. I am glad to hear that I am not the only crazy one who thinks of random recipe ideas when in bed. Several times each month I am forced to get out of bed and go write them down for fear of forgetting them… ;)

  10. Laura says

    My, oh my!! I just made this queso dip/sauce to go on our brown rice & black bean nachos….MAJOR YUM factor!!!

  11. Sarah says

    I just recently went dairy free (casein sensitivity) and words cannot express how excited I am to try this!

    • Laura says

      You’re so welcome, Dana!
      Like you, I’ve tried numerous cashew based queso recipes, like Isa Chandra’s for example, which is quite good but I’m really trying to consume less nuts. Sadly, I didn’t have any leftover, insert evil laugh lol, but could tell that it would have reheated up nicely if there had of been any remaining in the pot. Oh well, I go shopping in the morning so I will have to be sure to pick up an eggplant or two, or three, etc lol to make more. YUMMMMMMMMMM LOL!!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Right? Dairy is a no go for me, too, no matter how hard I’ve tried to fight it. If you give this a go, let me know!

  12. says

    Can’t wait to try this – I wonder if I could go really lazy and use the Trader Joe’s ready-cooked eggplant in the Freezer section?

    I had a random spark of inspiration the other night when I fell asleep thinking about replacing zucchini with cucumbers in zucchini bread (p.s. it worked)

    • Dana Shultz says

      Nice! Cucumber bread. SUH SMART. Not sure about the ready-cook eggplant. But if you do try it, let me know!

  13. says

    This is nothing less than cheer genius, actually.

    I was going to make some sort of savoury dip/spread this week and now I know EXACTLY what it’s going to be – a much healthier one than I’d originally intended! Thanks so much – your recipes are inspiring:)

  14. says

    Many of my recipe ideas come to me as I fall asleep too! Unfortunately, I have probably forgotten more than I have remembered in the morning!
    Eggplant?! That would never have crossed my mind for this! Genius! Pat on the back to you!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Thanks friend! I try to write down my ideas immediately OR tell John “DON’T LET ME FORGET THIS.” One way or another I get the idea on paper!

    • Dana Shultz says

      ha, yes! You literally only ate like 100 calories the WHOLE night ;D (btw, your nooch popcorn is BOMB)

  15. says

    This seems so healthy and delicious. While pinning, I debated what board to pin to: appetizers or dinner. I could probably eat the whole recipe for dinner and not to feel guilty. If I dipped veggies and chips in the queso, that would be good enough, right?

    • Dana Shultz says

      Totally. Ha! So funny that you’ve had a bit of a hard time figuring out where it should land. I think i’ll keep it on my “this recipe is gold” board ;D

  16. says

    This is so perfect! I was just telling my friend that I needed a nut-free healthy dip for my friend who has allergens, so I’m very excited to make this. Thank you–pinned!

  17. says

    Very clever! Having looked at the photos before reading the secret ingredient there was no way I would’ve guessed it was eggplant! Nor would have I even thought to have tried it as cheesy substitute.

  18. says

    This is brilliant! I’ve been making both cashew cheeze and baba ghanoush….this is the best of both worlds! We used it as a dip for artichokes–scrumptious! I’ll use this recipe the next time I make pizza instead of a cashew sauce. Thank you!

  19. says

    This recipe is delicious!!! I actually prefer it to cashew cheese. It tastes way less fatty. I added some sliced up jalapeños and pimentos from a jar and a little bit of Trader Joe’s fire-roasted salsa!

  20. says

    Woot Woot! Will be picking up some eggplant on my next trip! Glad to hear John liked it! This will be a test for my husband too… he is not an eggplant fan. Sneeky, sneeky! But he will be now!

  21. Shannon C says

    First of all, thank you so much for posting a “cheese” sauce that did not include cashews. Although I love all the vegan cashew recipes (cheeses, ice creams, raw truffles) my waste line does not. That being said, I actually did not like the dip. Perhaps my eggplant allegiance lies with your baba ganoush recipe. I just couldn’t get it to taste similar to cheese. I even resorted to adding extra salt, nooch, and soaked cashews. Which made it taste like salty, nooch flavored eggplant. Ah well, it was worth a try. I also made your chocolate beet muffins on the same day. And proceeded to eat several.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Sorry you didn’t like this, Shannon! Glad you still liked the beet muffins though :D This recipe does take some tweaking to get it to the queso flavor you prefer. I taste and add spices as I go, adding a little more nooch, chili powder, salt and garlic power for extra flavor. Plus, the salsa or drained rotel really helps it take on that true queso flavor/texture. Hope that helps!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Hmm, I added A LOT of nutritional yeast which amped up the color. Paprika helps boost the color, too. Perhaps that was the issue? Glad you still enjoyed it!

    • Jeanne says

      You could try pimentos or roasted red peppers from a jar. This is what I use to get my cashew cheese sauce the lovely color of cheddar cheese.

  22. abigail says

    Overall, delicious. I actually made this as a pasta sauce, omitted the ‘nacho’ elements and used dried mustard to spice it just a bit. I can’t do a lot of cashews either, so this is an incredibly welcome vegan sauce addition – better than the cauliflower alfredo I have been making, both in texture and in taste! I also used barely any oil, taking the fat content down – and I think I used double the nutritional yeast. Mine also came out a green-gray color, but I don’t mind it – perhaps I’ll roast just a little less next time. It’s the worst, but boxed macaroni and cheese is my kryptonite – and this is the first sauce I can count on to keep that blue box out of my kitchen :)

  23. Dee says

    Made this last night and it was really delicious. One thing I did have to change was the thickness of the eggplant. I found 1/4 of an inch way too thin. After broiling and lightly salting the slices where very, very thin and did not yield even close to 1 cup. So, I tried again with 1/2 slices and it worked perfectly. I also added about 3/4 of the Rotel instead of a few tablespoons. Overall, very delicious. Thanks!

  24. says

    Ohhhhh my!
    It’s 11:30pm and I meant to be in bed for at least 1 1/2 hours, got stuck on the internet and stumbling about this oh-so-mouth-watering recipe…
    Tomorrow got to get here quick so I can get busy in the kitchen…!

    Greets from nighttime Germany, Janina

  25. Shannan says

    Thanks for the recipe – this was great! Delicious. I’m newly vegan so struggling with the dinner time rush on work days. A little bit of this with some organic corn chips keeps me going while I’m cooking in the evenings. It’s nice straight from the fridge too, though more like eggplant dip then.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Great! So glad you liked it Shannon! Thanks for sharing (and good luck on your new vegan journey!)

  26. says

    My friend just shared this on my wall and I am stoked about it! This looks incredible! I would substitute the cornstarch with some agar agar…it’s a sea vegetable that can be used for thickening and is actually a superfood in itself. That combined with the nutritional yeast actually makes this a healthy superfood powerhouse. Amazing idea for an alternative for cashews…I will definitely be incorporating this into a recipe on the site soon, thank you!!!

  27. says

    Ooooh this looks very yummy! I was wondering how important the yeast is? I’m allergic, boo :( I know yeast gives a cheesey flavour, but is there anything you can think of that might work instead?! I thought about maybe dijon mustard? and a little bit of turmeric for the colour? would love your opinion though! :) x

  28. Anique says

    This is the second recipe I’ve tried from your site (black bean brownies being the first – which were delicious!). I had high expectations after looking at all those beautiful pictures! Unfortunately, it did not turn out well for me. It was, as others have mentioned, a greenish grey color and it turned out lumpy – not creamy at all. It didn’t taste cheesy either. My husband didn’t mind the taste so much and ate some but he said this was a non repeater. Not sure why it didn’t turn out like yours; I followed the recipe. Oh well!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Hmm, not sure! It is a recipe that needs to be catered to personal taste. If it wasn’t cheesy enough, add more nutritional yeast. Not sure about the color! Paprika and hot sauce do help brighten it up. Hope that helps!

  29. Carolyn says

    Even easier way to cook the eggplant is from my favorite Indian cookbook, Lakshmi’s Vegetarian Kitchen: Rub the uncut eggplant all over with a little oil and put it under the broiler. When the skin darkens and starts to crackle, turn it over and scorch the other side. (This works in my toaster oven, too!) Let cool enough to handle and scoop out the contents. For more yellow color, add turmeric. It doesn’t interfere at all with other flavors and has healthy brain benefits.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Great idea! Not sure if it would create the right texture for this recipe, but it’s worth a shot!

  30. Elizabeth says

    Since I’m allergic to tree nuts, thought this would be a good recipe… then saw almond milk as an ingredient. :( Any suggestions for a substitute that’s tree-nut free?

  31. Abs says

    Weird question but what shape are your aubergines? I ask because I’m from the UK where they are sorta egg-shaped but here in Malaysia they are more like a courgette shape. As it will greatly affect the quantity, I need to know. Or can you give a rough estimate by weight? Thanks.

    • Dana Shultz says

      It doesn’t matter! I’ve done this recipe with both egg and courgette shaped. Just buy a medium-large one. Use any leftover roasted eggplant for baba ganoush! Or make a larger batch of queso. Hope that helps!

  32. Peggy says

    Can you give a weight for the eggplant? I never know if my eggplant is small, medium or large. Such relative terms! Thanks!

    • Dana Shultz says

      I don’t know the weight, I’m sorry! that’s why I gave a 1 cup measurement once roasted. Hope that helps, Peggy!

  33. says

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this! My fiance loves queso (Texan, etc.), but I just can never bring myself to eat what is essentially a block of something they can’t legally call cheese with some stuff stirred into it. This might be a good compromise :)

  34. Kelley says

    Can’t wait to try this. I’m new to eating dairy-free and I have a son who is nut/peanut allergic. I like the idea of using rice milk. This looks like cheddar cheese, is there a way to make a “cheese” that looks and tastes like mozzarella? I’m so grateful for you smart cooking people!

  35. Rachel says

    Did you know that if you add tapioca starch it will make the dip stretchy. If you are looking for that texture. I plane on doing this dip, plus tapioca, for Mac and cheese.

  36. says

    I just made it and it’s soooo good. I used too much garlic and only had soy milk on hand but it still came out great with a few extra seasonings. Thanks for the recipes! I think I’m gonna use some of it as a creamy pasta sauce;)

  37. Holley Wright says

    Hi, I made this last night for my 18 yr old son and husband, both manly eaters and myself, it was FANTASTIC!!! my only regret is that I didn’t double it! We practically licked the bowl…thanks so much!
    my daughter (who is at college) is lactose intolerant, and I think this would be great on nachos for her!!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Ah, so great to hear it! Definitely double it next time ;D Thanks for sharing, Holley! (and P.S. TRY IT ON NACHOS. SO GOOD)

  38. Bird says

    Just made this and it is so brilliantly good!! This is genius, thank you for sharing it with us :) I went with 1 1/2 cups of almond milk and 3 tsp cornstarch and it made a great consistency, and chulola hot sauce :).

  39. Aimee B. says

    Sadly, this wasn’t one of my faves. It ended up looking like dijon mustard in color despite adding in extra nooch and smoked paprika. The taste was O.K., but I’m not sure I’d make it again. I think I’d rather make baba ganoush with my eggplants. That said, you can’t please everyone as we all have different tastes. I think it’s great that you got so creative and I love your blog. Keep the recipes coming! <3

  40. Brook says

    One word… Meh… Color, not at all like your pics– looked like watered down mustard color, . Flavor , blah, super bland, even after tweaking the spices. The texture however was pretty good–nice and creamy, but tasted nothing, absolutely nothing, like cheese. Boyfriend didn’t like it either…..sorry, but this was a definite flop in our house.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Bum! Thanks for your feedback. It’s definitely one that has to be played with to get it to your liking. I add more nutritional yeast and paprika for color. And to thicken, I add more cornstarch. If you let the dip sit out too long, it will turn an unpleasant color. But fresh, it should be a golden color. Hope that helps!

  41. says

    I cannot believe I am just finding this blog. I am so happy that I did! My first recipe to make will be this vegan queso dip, because, lucky me, I happen to have an eggplant straight chilling in my crisper as we speak. Is it wrong to have nachos for dinner on a Thursday? Or is it oh so right?

  42. says

    What a lightbulb moment! I adore baba ganoush and make it frequently, and part of the adoration is the luxuriously smooth texture (long as you blend long enough). Will absolutely try this, but I may try a cheater version using just a bit of cashews too. I don’t have a problem with nuts but I do think they get used WAY too much sometimes in vegan cooking. Balance, people! At any rate, such a revelation to have another option, thanks Dana.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Great idea! Mixing in some cashews would probably work great. Let me know how it goes, Carolyn!

  43. Wendy says

    I am officially voting you “Queen of the Geniuses”! This dip was just WONDERFUL! I honestly did not expect to like this recipe because I am not a fan of eggplant but decided it looked too good to not try it. I left out the cumin cuz I don’t care for it and the nutritional yeast that I use doesn’t have the lovely bright yellow color that would have made this look just like cheese so mine was just kind of tan in color. My husband and I didn’t care because we loved the dip so much next time I will have to make a double batch. Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe!

    • Dana Shultz says

      oh yay! Thanks Wendy! So glad you guys enjoyed it! And thanks for the ‘Queen’ compliment! *blushing*

  44. Natalie says

    This was so delicious! As a somewhat new vegetarian exploring vegan options, I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe. A few “cheezy” recipes I have tried in the past have sadly missed the mark. But this was a revelation. I have to be honest and say it did not satisfy my craving for classic, cheeeesy queso, but it completely made me forget about queso while I was eating it! The dip is a wonderfully rich, yet light explosion of Mexican flavor :) I could not stop eating this and can’t wait to incorporate it into other Mexican dishes I make. It also has a slight sweetness to it that surprised me and made me double dip with no shame!

    I love your recipes, keep making amazing dishes :)

  45. Lynn Andrews says

    When making this recipe, my attitude was that this would be a nice additional veggie option for our nachos instead of a cheese replacement. It came out well, though not the same color, however, most eggplant dips tend to have a greyish tint. We served this with nachos and it was all gobbled up. We agreed that it didn’t really taste like queso but it was still very good. I’m going to try this again in a black bean beef quinoa enchilada bake this weekend. Thank you for the recipe.

    Sidenote: While we’re not vegans I was extremely interested in this recipe because if you compare prices of buying a jar of queso vs making this version, you get a better deal with the recipe. It’s cheaper and better for you and it makes more than a dinky jar, a win-win in my books :) Thanks again!

  46. Sara says

    Hi this was verrrry good, one quick question mine was not as pretty as yours more brown than orange. Any ideas on how to orange it up a bit?

    • Dana Shultz says

      The color will change depending on the amount of each seasoning you use. For a vibrant orange color, pack in lots of nutritional yeast and paprika. also, the longer it sits out, it will turn a little bit brown. But it still tastes amazing!

  47. Katrina says

    Alright, maybe I did something wrong (and I’ve never used eggplant so I’m not familiar with their flavor) but this turned out just awful. Like inedible awful. I’m going to have a third person try it to see what he thinks. Its rough textured and tastes. I don’t even know how to describe it. But nothing like cheese.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Might I ask, what kind of blender did you use? There’s no way it should be grainy or textured after blending. And not sure what went wrong with the taste! Sorry you had a bad experience.

  48. Abby says

    I love how this recipe doesn’t call for cashews! Cashews give vegan “cheese” such a sweet flavor that I can’t get used to. I’m excited to try this! What a great idea!

    • Alex says

      My recipe also came out brown. Not so much queso taste to be totally honest. A little bit disappointed because I thought this sauce would be it! I am going to eat it as an eggplant dip with pita bread, plan B.

  49. Liz says

    I made this recipe this evening and it was dee-lish. I char-roasted the eggplant which gave the sauce a nice smoky touch. Even my hard core cheese loving daughter and granddaughter loved it and they do not like eggplant. This recipe will be in regular rotation in my kitchen. Thanks so much for sharing!

  50. says

    I’ve just made this. I made a few errors (too much eggplant, accidentally put the salsa in blender). D’oh!! No matter. It’s very tasty as is and now I know what I should do to make it cheesier!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Nice! Yeah, it’s definitely the kind of recipe that each person has to customize to his/her taste. But once you figure it out, it’s liquid gold!

  51. says

    Yay for vegan queso! I’ve tried many different recipes and this one is definitely the best! The roasted eggplant gives this dip a much better flavor than cashews and is much creamier. I made a few minor adjustments to match my taste and it is delicious. (i.e. extra nutritional yeast and chili powder and a splash of beer) This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  52. Emily Rose says

    So I found this recipe today and because I had an eggplant in the fridge, I immediately started making this. I used the whole (large) eggplant so it was about double the recipe and when tasting and adding spices I added a bit too much cumin so I had to overcomensate with more nutritional yeast, much more. But that’s okay, I love nutritional yeast! In the end it turned out really great! My boyfriend really liked it as well and was excited about having another (easy) way to eat eggplant. When I go to heat some more up I’ll probably add a bit more salsa, but other than that I’ll pretty much be eating this for the rest of the week, while trying to find anything and everything I can put it on! Thanks for an amazing idea!!!

  53. Jaclyn says

    Exactly what do you mean by “a few minutes” on step 4? The directions weren’t clear enough and I had to get my leg amputated.

    One leg or two, it was still delicious.

  54. Rhonda says

    Wow, I am REALLY excited about this recipe since a) I planted eggplant this year and am wondering how I’m going to eat it all without getting sick of it and b) THIS IS A QUESO RECIPE WITHOUT SOY OR CASHEWS!!!!!! :)

    • Dana Shultz says

      You have the perfect situation: a little cashew resistant AND you’re swimming in an eggplant crop. Lucky lady!

  55. Bianca says

    This sounds crazy, but I’ve never had eggplant once in my life until a few days ago. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m hooked and just want to try and incorporate more of it into my meals, namely through this dip. I’m not vegan, though, so can I substitute cheddar cheese for the nutritional yeast? Thanks!

  56. Brittani says

    I made this tonight and liked it but was a little disappointed on the cheese flavor/color? Are your pictures true to color? Mine came out more brown which can be intimidating for guests your trying to convince.
    And I added extra nutritional yeast after first trying it and it still felt a little bland, any suggestions? On a happy note my children did eat some so for that I thank you! (Picky eaters)

  57. Carolyn says

    Just made for me and the hubs… Amazzzzzing!!! Never would have thought about using egg plant for a base and I’m glad I found this recipe!!! We just might drink it it’s so good!!

  58. Brandy says

    We have nut allergies in our family, so I can’t use almond milk. How important do you think it is in this recipe? Do you think I could sub for soy? Thank you!

  59. wendy says

    Came across this recipe on Pinterest and have to take a minute to tell you how awesome this is!! I’ve tried so many vegan recipes from Pinterest, some good, some not so much. This is a winner, can’t wait to make it again for my next get together.

  60. Shannon says

    So yummy! I successfully used rice milk, because we were out of almond. And I added a squirt of lemon juice, to give it a little extra cheesy tang. Also, lots of nooch for taste and a gorgeous color. It’s still definitely not going to fool anyone into thinking they’re eating dairy but it is creamy and delicious and makes a beautiful nacho topping. I’ve missed nachos. Thank you so much!

  61. Hayley says

    I love this recipe! It has the perfect texture, it’s cheap, easy, and low-cal. The flavor, while not exactly like dairy queso, was superb in it’s own right (though I think I’ll do the extra scoop of nooch next time) ;) Thanks for the recipe!

  62. Lisa says

    You are BRILLIANT. Followed the recipe fairly closely, then added a bunch of salt and lemon juice. Lovely yellowy color with flecks of purple. Eggplant for the win.

  63. Lindsay says

    This is delicious. My only problem is that mine came out a funny color. Maybe if I’m serving company I’ll cut more of the outside edge off.

  64. Rachel O. says

    I have been eyeing this recipe for awhile and finally made it tonight for nachos. It was so, so delicious. I used Pacific brand Unsweetened original almond milk, which I’d never noticed has vanilla in the ingredients (weird since it’s unsweetened!). I was certain I had ruined it but after blending everything together, the taste was fantastic! To those who were not pleased with the color, mine also came out a little unpleasant looking at first, but I added about a teaspoon of turmeric and it looked much “cheesier.” My husband thinks he hates eggplant but he LOVED this.

    • Eytan says

      After seeing all the comments that the color wasn’t yellow enough I also thought of using turmeric, figuring that the super mild taste of it wouldn’t be an issue and could even enhance the flavor. Thanks for confirming the idea. Going to try this with my wife now.

  65. Kris says

    This was great! I made a few modifications based on what I had around (blended in some sauteed jalapeno and onion, threw in some leftover pico de gallo, cut the spices down a bit b/c of the additions and left out the Rotel, and added extra nooch and cornstarch b/c of my personal preferences) – it was great! The color was nothing like in the pictures, and I wouldn’t think of this as a cheese substitute exactly, but the flavor totally hit the queso notes I was looking for. Adding more cornstarch also made it thick enough that I tossed it with some whole wheat macaroni and it was awesome there too.

    All around, a great recipe and I look forward to playing with it some more :) Thanks!

  66. Rachel says

    So glad I found this recipe. I’ve been looking for recipes free of cashews because my son is allergic to them. I’ve recently fell in love with eggplant and this is another way for me to utilize them for my needs. Thank you!!!

  67. Chelsea says

    Wishing I found your lovely website sooner. This recipe is my first (of many to come) to try from your website and it was incredibly delicious.

    Like other readers, extra salt and lemon squeeze worked as great additions. Just for fun I did chopped roasted poblanos instead of the tomato salsa at the end.

    As for the color, I found it totally appetizing and golden yellow without adding a ton of spices. Turmeric or extra chili etc would brighten the color just fine if that sort of thing is important to you or your guests that need extra convincing (we all have them!).

    What a winner of a recipe I’m so thrilled to have stumbled upon it!

    Thank you…vegan goddess!!!!!

  68. Franci Blanco says

    I tried this recipe the other night and it was really tasty, but mine came out grayish brown. All of my steps looked exactly like yours except after blending. :/

  69. Kate says

    For those who are allergic to nuts, I used soy milk in place of the almond milk, and added a bit of tahini. It turned out absolutely delicious.

  70. Shannon says

    I made this tonight for a nacho platter and it was THE best vegan queso I’ve ever encountered. I’ve been vegan for a quite a while but once and a while find myself yearning for the cheesy processed cheese sauce I loved as a kid. This is so close it’s phenomenal and made with all fresh ingredients! It can’t be beat :) I love that it doesn’t have the nutty flavour that traditional cashew cheese dip yields. Definitely one to make again and again!

  71. Ahkilah says

    This recipe is amazing!!!!!!!! It’s so nice to find a cashew/soy free cheese recipe. Pure genius, thanks for this!!!

  72. Nora says

    I tried this recipe yesterday and it definitely didn’t come out anything like yours!! First of all, mine is gray… how come yours is so yellow and cheesy looking? And second of all, mine isn’t the right consistency at all! I even tried making a slew with cornstarch and adding it back in but it’s still not right! It also tastes nothing remotely close to cheese… I’m so confused! Your pictures look so different than mine, help!!
    (The only thing that I did that could maybe affect this is not measuring out how much eggplant. I cut about half of it and assumed that was good. Could that have been it?)

      • Dana Shultz says

        It takes adjusting flavors, but if you add enough salt, spices and nutritional yeast, it seriously tastes like queso! As for the color, if you let it set out for too long it can turn a brownish color. But even then it still tastes good! Sorry you had trouble. Let me know if I can help troubleshoot.

    • Dana Shultz says

      Nora, that may be it. You really need to make sure you have enough eggplant in there or it won’t thicken up well. As for the color, if you let it set out for too long at room temp it will turn a brown-ish color, but it honestly still taste good. And as for the flavors, it really just takes a little mixing of spices to get the right taste. If it tastes off I add more nutritional yeast, garlic powder and chili powder until it gets there! Hope that helps.

  73. Kathryn says

    I love this dip. Not cheezy, but very tasty. Ha, mine turned a green-ish tan color~definitely not an orange-y yellow color like yours. I added garlic and onion powder, too.
    Easy, and quick. Fun to watch my eggplant sweat :’)
    Thank you for the recipe. Cheers*

  74. Lauren says

    This is the third time I have made this, with stellar results. My soon to be hubby swoons over this! It was crazy thick this time, but I didn’t want to use any additional almond milk. So to thin it out, I used a few tablespoons of the rotel juice. That sent it over the top!! I am SO glad I made a double batch this time. :) Thank you for your wonderful eggplant-piphany!

  75. Taylor says

    This was amazing! It’s the best vegan queso I’ve tried, and definitely stands up to the real thing (especially since it’s so healthy, I’d choose it over real queso any day even if I wasn’t vegan/dairy intolerant!). I love cashew queso as well, but I eat so many other cashew-based dishes that I figured it would be good to do something a little different. I make this twice a week because I’m straight-up obsessed with queso! Yeah, the colour is a bit off, but I think if you added a bit of turmeric that would make it more orange-y? I also don’t remove the skins. It makes the colour even weirder but my partner and I don’t care at all. I removed the skins the first time time and I found it created a lot of waste and took up a lot of time. The taste is the exact same either way, though. The skins don’t totally blend in so there’s tiny little pieces, but I don’t notice once I add the salsa.

  76. kay crowder says

    I am not a fan of nooch and one person here is allergic to yeast products, so we avoid it. Is there anything we could use as a substitute? We miss queso sooo much!

    • Dana Shultz says

      Just omit the nutritional yeast and up the amount of spices I list, although it won’t be as cheesy and delicious :D

  77. Courtney says

    First time I made this it turned out great, loved it and added it to some tacos. The second time I left out the chili powder, cumin, and salsa, then added steamed broccoli. It seriously tastes just like a creamy cheddar and broccoli soup, it was so good. I can’t wait to try it in another recipe for a “cheese” based fall soup! Thanks for the recipe, love your blog!!

  78. Kendyluv says

    Oh where was this recipe for the past month when my CSA kept pummeling me with loathsome eggplant!?!? Now I may have to actually BUY SOME so I can try this nommy treat!!!

  79. Kathy says

    Thank you so much for all the great “cheese” recipes which I have pinned. It is so great to have access to some absolutely wonderful basic yet yummy recipes in my arsenal. One of the best blogs I have found.

  80. Anolee says

    I wanted to love this queso but it didn’t do my craving justice. I will say that I loved the flavor as an eggplant dip. I even added more salsa and salt but it ended up tasting like a delicious bowl of eggplant soup puree. The consistency was very similar to queso so maybe I need to just tweak it here and there to get that queso taste I’m craving!

  81. Michelle L. says

    I just made a batch. At first, the color was a light brown–not too appetizing-looking. I added some pimentos, and the color became the orange-y queso color! And, the flavors are awesome. In fact, my non-vegan son said he likes this much better than the cheesy queso! Thank you!!

  82. says

    This is the first recipe of yours that I have tried. My daughter is allergic to cashews, so most of the vegan “cheese” recipes won’t work for us. The eggplant was genius! I added some ground chipotle and a little extra nutritional yeast and we all really liked it. Will definitely make this again!

  83. Colleen says

    A little late to the party, but I CAN’T WAIT to try this! I’m allergic to tree nuts so all cashew cheeses are out for me. I think it will have to be made this weekend :)

  84. Nicole says

    I plan on making this today, I read one vegan nacho cheese where they added a orange pepper to the mix for the colour, do you think that would change the taste too much? Should I decrease the proportion of eggplant if I do? I’m thinking of roasting it with the eggplant for a smoky flavour. Thanks!

  85. Amber says

    I LOVED this dip! It was easy to make, and went so well with chips. I added an extra teaspoon of nutritional yeast and, interestingly, a little white vinegar after removing the queso from heat, that gave it more of a tangy cheesy taste. This is officially added to the repertoire.

    Thank you so much for your easy, simple recipes! I’d be lost without them.

  86. Hannah Elizabeth says

    This may sound like a weird question, but I was thinking of making a bigger batch of this and possibly mixing some of it in with some cooked quinoa as a cheesy vegan dish for an upcoming party. I was wondering, do you think it could freeze? Maybe it would fare better in the freezer with the quinoa mixed in already? Do have any advice/suggestions/experience you could share with me? I’m kind of feeling a little over my head… Thanks so much!! <3

    • Dana Shultz says

      It could! I would freeze it in small batches in jars and it will reheat beautifully in the microwave. Or, put it in the fridge to thaw and transfer to a saucepan to reheat. Good luck!

  87. says

    I was SO excited to see that this was cashew-free, since my daughter is deathly allergic to all nuts, and then crestfallen to see it included almond milk. Any reason that I couldn’t substitute rice milk?

  88. Krissy says

    New to the vegan way of life as my daughter has decided it’s right for her so loving the website. Wondered if you can use dried fast action yeast.

  89. says

    Not sure if this was asked already, but we are fresh out of almond milk. Would water be ok? Also, What could I use other than corn starch or arrowroot?

  90. says

    UPDATE!
    I just made this, it’s quite good!
    Not as “queso”ish as I was hoping, but I didn’t have almond milk, so I added only water.
    PLUS I didn’t have fresh garlic cloves, chili powder, or cornstarch.
    I improvised, I followed your recipe exactly but added only water, and mixed it in our blendtec, as well as altering the spices since we’re running low on some apparently.
    My recipe:
    7 large 1/2″ cut egg plant rounds, prepared as in your recipe, so prepared with salt, broiled, more salt & olive oil etc.
    1 tbsp nooch + 1/4 cup water
    cumin (very little bit)
    curry powder (1/16th tsp-ish)
    smoked paprika (1/16th tsp)
    1/8 tsp xantham gum blended in the blendtec with water & then added to queso when I put it on the stove-top.

    It didn’t thicken too much, but I know that’s because I made such a teeny amount, I can’t risk boiling it because it’ll burn! I thought I’d cut enough egg plant, but after it broiled I had only about 3/4 of a cup. So this recipe yielded only about 2 servings, 1/4 cup each.
    Will try it again, with fresh garlic and almond milk!
    Still VERY impressed, so glad I found your blog!! ((:

  91. Souma says

    Just made this and it was DELICIOUS! Very easy to make as well. I was really surprised at how creamy and rich it tasted.

    One question:
    How did you get yours to turn so yellow? I might try adding some turmeric to get a “cheesier” look.

  92. Tracey D. says

    WOW! I just made this and it is WICKED GOOD!!! So happy that it is healthy & guilt free because I ate almost all of this in one sitting (please don’t judge…I have no willpower ;)) Someone prior mentioned using the base of this sauce for an alfredo/mac & cheese sauce and I’m definitely going to try, as I haven’t gotten much enjoyment from cauliflower alfredos. Thank you, thank you for this awesome recipe!

  93. says

    Hey Dana & John – thanks for this amazing recipe!
    I tried it yesterday, unfortunately i totally messed up the amount of eggplants (those germans… can’t read any recipe :D) – so it turned out to be a delicious GREEN pastasauce instead of the queso dip ;)
    But i’m totally in love with it!

  94. Natasha says

    I was very much looking forward to making this recipe, but I was sorely disappointed with my results. I’m chalking it up to something I did wrong, because obviously nothing is inherently flawed with the recipe as many people have had great results.

    Mine came out very brown. I tried adding turmeric, and that helped some, but yeah…still a brown, almost baby food like color. I don’t know if my eggplant was too old (the seeds were brown inside), or if my omission of the olive oil affected the color. I also thought it just wasn’t there for me flavor wise.

    Thanks for the recipe and idea. I’m glad to hear other people have had success!

      • Natasha says

        I did remove the skin. I don’t think I cooked the eggplant too long, but it’s totally possible that I did. Maybe I used too much eggplant? If I make this again, I would measure the eggplant to ensure I’m only using about 1 cup as you indicate above. Thanks for the follow-up!!

  95. Katarina says

    I found this recipe and made this tonight. I followed the recipe exactly (something I do the first time out anyway) and I got the greyish version of the dip. My eggplant were cooked exactly to the color of your pics and I removed the skins. However I noticed your pic of the blender shows vibrant nutritional yeast. My store carried the Red Star brand which in the jar is already a light beige color…not at all yellow. So this could be the issue?

    I ended up adding the rest of the eggplant (I roasted off the entire eggplant in slices but only used enough the first time to make a cup of eggplant as directed) and a few more tablespoons of nutritional yeast, some Cholula sauce for a bit of vinegar/acid, paprika for color and more salt. I got it to taste like queso and it was quite delicious but the color was still unappetizing. My final product was a light orange color due mostly to the paprika.

    May I ask what brand nutritional yeast you are using? There aren’t a lot of variables to this dip so it’s got to be some kind of brand issue.

    • Rosey says

      Katarina-Yes, the Red Star Yeast you used doesn’t sound like nutritional yeast. Red Star does make a nutritional yeast, but the container should say “nutritional yeast” and the yeast flakes are very yellow in color. I really like the KAL brand of nutritional yeast. You can get a large container on amazon for a good price :)
      I made this dip and followed the recipe exactly, but I ended up with the brown-grey-unappetizing color others were complaining about. The taste was okay, but I guess overall I just didn’t care for it. I think I will stick to queso with cashews!

  96. Ellie says

    Just made this with butternut squash instead of eggplant and it was so good! Also, being orange, it took care of the cheese colour! Thanks for the recipe, it’s going to get used a LOT.

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