5-Minute Vegan Cashew Queso

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Overhead image of vegan cashew queso being stirred with a spoon, plus cashews, harissa, and nutritional yeast on the side

Need vegan queso and need it fast? Look no further! This recipe requires just 7 ingredients, 5 minutes, and 1 blender. Let’s do this!

Overhead image of vegan cashew queso ingredients in a grid, including cashews, harissa, water, salt, and garlic

This recipe was born out of pure necessity. Some friends were over one night and we ordered Mexican food and I needed some queso STAT. So, I figured blending up some cashews with hot water would work. Guess what? It totally did.

Typically I like to soak my cashews before blending, but in a pinch this little trick totally works! Because sometimes you just need queso and you need it right now — you feel me?

Overhead image of vegan cashew queso ingredients in a blender about to be blended

Origins of Queso

Queso, also called chile con queso, is a melty, cheesy dip that’s typically served alongside tortilla chips. It’s believed to have originated in Texas in the early 1900s (source).

Though you may find chile con queso at some Mexican restaurants in the US, it’s much different than the authentic Mexican queso (called queso fundido) that likely inspired it. While queso fundido is typically made with soft white cheeses, chile con queso is usually made with more processed American cheeses. You can learn more about the history and differences here.

Our version is not traditional, but is inspired by the creaminess and heat of chile con queso and also influenced by North African flavor with the addition of harissa paste (learn more about the origins of harissa here).

How to Make Vegan Queso

This queso is comprised of raw cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, spices, water, and a little hot sauce or harissa paste blended to creamy perfection. That’s it!

You can make it spicier, cheesier, or more garlicky to taste — the options are endless.

Overhead image of vegan cashew queso in a white bowl with a hand stirring some hot sauce on top and cashews, harissa, and nutritional yeast on the side

We hope you love our new quick, go-to queso! It’s:

Fast
Creamy
Cheesy
Smoky and spicy
& Incredibly delicious

This would make the perfect dip for Mexican night and beyond. Lately I’ve been keeping a jar around for adding to Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls, or just to dip with corn chips. Swoon.

If you’re into queso, be sure to check out our Butternut Squash Bowl with Jalapeño Queso, Roasted Jalapeño Vegan Queso, Best Damn Vegan Nachos, Cashew-less Vegan Queso, and our Black Bean Plantain Enchilada Bake!

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Image of vegan cashew queso in a bowl with a spoon on the left side and chip on the right side
Overhead image of vegan cashew queso in a white bowl on a cutting board with harissa, chips, and nutritional yeast on the side

5-Minute Vegan Cashew Queso

Creamy vegan queso ready in just 5 minutes! Cheesy, quick and easy to make, and perfect for serving with nachos, burrito bowls, tacos, and more!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Dipping a chip into a bowl of Vegan Cashew Queso
4.91 from 193 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6 (1/4-cup servings)
Course Dip, Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 1 Week

Ingredients

  • 3/4 – 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp harissa (or sub hot salsa, hot sauce, Ro-Tel, or 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce // plus more for garnish)

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a blender (starting with the lesser amount of water) and blend until creamy, adding more water as needed to blend until creamy and smooth. We recommend a small blender (we prefer the NutriBullet), or a high-speed blender. Add just enough water to achieve a creamy, pourable queso. If it gets too thin, thicken with additional raw cashews.
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for cheesiness, salt to taste, cumin for smokiness, chili powder or harissa for heat, or garlic for zing. It should be quite flavorful, so don’t be shy.
  • Serve with chips or add to things like tacos, nachos, burritos, and more! Garnish with additional harissa or a spoonful of fresh salsa or hot sauce for serving (optional). 
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 5-7 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. To thaw from frozen, set in refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Reheat in microwave or in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add more water as needed if it thickens when reheating.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 (1/4-cup) serving calculated without additional garnish, chips for dipping, or other sides.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 (1/4-cup serving) Calories: 133 Carbohydrates: 8 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 9 g Saturated Fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 237 mg Potassium: 209 mg Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 1 g Vitamin A: 150 IU Vitamin C: 0.6 mg Calcium: 8 mg Iron: 1.8 mg

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  1. Mary h says

    Very easy to make and customize. Making with soaked cashews and a simple addition of a dollop of chili crisp worked nicely too.

  2. Sue says

    Oh my goodness! This is soo good. Our family loves this queso. We would spoon it over ice cream, over mashed potatoes, over just about anything. Thank you. We appreciate you!

  3. Kcapron says

    I have had an aversion to making things with cashews for the sole reason of the soaking time. I just whipped this up in no time. It is so good! I did add a little salt, less than 1/4 tsp and it was just enough. Excellent recipe! Thank you!

  4. B says

    You really are magical! I never realized how fiery and GOOD harissa can be! The flavors shine in this queso.
    Thank you for all of your hard work and amazing creations! You make my life SO much more fun and SO flavorful!

  5. Naomi McCoy says

    Thank you for this recipe! Amazing texture and flavor, and so quick and easy to make! Being from the south, the harissa seasoning threw me off a bit, was not a fan of the hint of mint that comes through. Next time I will substitute hot sauce or chilies instead. Thanks again!

  6. Melanie says

    So tasty! Added more hot sauce and chili powder to give it a bit of a kick and some plant milk for creaminess. Have made twice already!

  7. Jill says

    My first vegan queso and this recipe is easy and delicious. No substitutions; tweaked quantities to my taste. 3/4 cup water gave me the creaminess I wanted. I’m newly GF sensitive and it’s a whole new world for me. I’m thankful for your cookbook and website. I’ll be making this recipe often.

  8. Cassandra says

    I love this. But I wanna try making it next time so it is stretchy. Could you recommend me what to do? Im guessing tapioca and water then on stove but not sure what the ratios should be

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cassandra, Adding 1-2 Tbsp of tapioca starch should work well.. you could add maybe 1/4 cup extra water as well. Warm slowly on the stove until it begins to thicken!

  9. Jessie says

    This is the best queso recipe I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise. It’s just so good! I do use unsweetened plant milks to make it a bit richer, but I otherwise keep it the same. Also, hint hint: If you have kids, leave out the cumin, chili powder, and harissa, and you’ve got a great alfredo sauce! My kids eat it up, and they are crazy picky eaters.

  10. Brecken says

    I usually don’t leave comments but felt like I should because this recipe was so easy and delicious! I use hot sauce instead of harissa because I didn’t have any and it was very delicious.

  11. Renee says

    Love all your vegan recipes and cashew queso is no exception. I used rose harissa and only 3/4 cup of boiling water and it is perfect texture 🙂

  12. Ash says

    Thank you so much for this recipe; I can’t wait to try it! Are there any concerns or extra considerations I should take into account when using a food processor for this? I don’t think my blender can handle it.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Ash, with a food processor, it won’t get completely creamy. If you still want to try it, we’d suggest using less water since the cashews won’t fully break down and absorb the full amount of water. Hope that helps!

  13. Michael says

    This is SO good! I used 3/4 cup water and subbed 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce. The last time I made it, I just doubled the recipe as the container of raw cashews from the supermarket is exactly 2 cups. Yum-o! Thanks for posting this!

  14. Annie Kuhn says

    I’m excited to try this recipe! Can I use roasted cashews instead of raw (perhaps soak them?) I accidentally bought roasted and am hoping I can still use them.
    Thanks for your time!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Annie! We haven’t tried this recipe with roasted cashews and aren’t sure how it would change the flavor, but technically it should work! Hope this helps!

  15. Wendy says

    Made this with a couple small tweaks – roasted the cashews and used Sambal Oelek in place of Harissa. I probably (close to) doubled the nutritional yeast. Absolutely delicious! I have been looking for a good Queso recipe and you most definitely did not disappoint!!

  16. Bnali says

    I love cheese.
    This recipe is fantastic. I made it as part of a vegan charcuterie board. The dairy eaters (myself included) ate most of it. Next time I will put it on both boards.
    I used all the water and added creole seasoning for extra spice.
    Next time I want to add salsa to replicate the velveta dip. Thank you!
    Bnali

  17. Athenalovestocook says

    Pretty good! It didn’t have enough flavor for me before so I added canned green chilis and a few cherry tomatoes as well as seasoning salt and it was perfect!

  18. Isabel says

    My GO TO cashew queso recipe!! Taste exactly that way it should! I have made this SEVERAL times and brought it to friends and family and everyone’s loved it

    • Jessie says

      This is crazy good. I may have even commented before, I don’t remember. But if I have, it’s worth commenting again. HOLY VEGAN QUESO this is amazing!! Better than any queso I’ve ever had with dairy, hands down. Thanks so much for sharing!

  19. Julie H. says

    So incredibly good and easy. I love the fact that I don’t have to run to the store and buy anything special! I will be making this regularly!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Melissa, we don’t think that would work unfortunately! It’s a key ingredient in the recipe.

  20. Laura Marie says

    This was really delicious. I used my Ninja Foodie which makes sauces and smoothies and it blended very well. I used Frontier Nacho Spice Nutritional Yeast, Frontera Chipotle Pepper Adobo, a little champagne vinegar for acid, and extra chili powder. I like the very light texture and it would also make a great replacement for sour cream. I am a fan of very spicy food, but you can customize to your preference. Easy, quick, and guilt free!

  21. Jessica says

    Amazing vegan queso! There are so many more complicated ones out there, I’m glad I found this one. It took maybe 2 mins and was delicious! Will definitely be making it again

  22. Jamie says

    Quickly googled cashew queso and this was the first recipe I clicked on. Whipped it up and omg!! Delicious!! Now I’m on Instagram going through your page!! So many recipes I want to try!! So happy I accidentally found you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, yay! We’re so glad you’re enjoying our page, Jamie. Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  23. Grace says

    Love that it didn’t involve soaking the cashews (was definitely having a “need queso now” moment)!!
    Didn’t have harissa, so it tasted a bit on the sweeter side. Added a combination of original and green pepper Cholula sauces, plus a but of onion and garlic powder and that made it for me! Just thought I’d share some the flavours! These quick recipes are great encouragement for those new to vegan/dairy free lifestyles! Thanks for sharing!!

  24. Barrett Chambers says

    This recipe has become a staple in our house. I am so appreciative. We make it for burrito night.

    Some modifications: add 1 tsp miso, 1 tsp Dijon, 1 tbsp pickled jalapenos, and double the nutritional yeast.

    It is delicious as written but these modifications make it cheesier to me.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoy it, Barrett! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications!

  25. Lindsay says

    Did you soak the cashews for this recipe? I know most recipes call for the them to be soaked for some time before blending.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lindsay, you can soak them, but we found that with using hot water, we were able to get around it here!

  26. Michelle says

    This was delicious! I see this becoming a favorite in our house. Thank you for the great recipe with easy to follow directions.