Smoky Vegan Cheese (Three Ways)

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Bowl of Vegan Mexican Cheese with a basket of blue corn tortilla chips and other ingredients used to make it

The thing about cheese is, I love it. However, my body is like “ah, nah.”

The thing about this Cashew-less Vegan Queso is, it’s delicious. But my watch is like “ah, nah.”

The thing about this recipe is, it takes 10 minutes and tastes like the real deal. Ah, yeah.

Cashews, salt, nutritional yeast, and spices for making Easy Vegan Mexican Cheese

I absolutely adore eggplant and cashew cheeses, but the time commitment is a little too much for everyday use. So one day I started to wonder if you could make vegan “parmesan” but with Mexican-inspired flavors. Answer? Yes.

Then, I wondered if you could add that back to the processor and make cheesy cashew butter spread. Answer? Yes.

Food processor with freshly pulsed cashews and other ingredients for Shakeable Mexican Cheese

Finally, I wondered if you could add hot water to that spread and make 10-minute pourable queso with no soaking or roasting involved. Answer? DOUBLE YES. Friends, this is a major win in my book.

The first way: Shakeable!

Add raw cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, cumin, chili powder and garlic powder to a food processor and blitz away.

Open can of chipotles in adobo

Ta-da! You have shakeable spiced, Vegan Cheese, perfect for salads, tofu scrambles, tacos, and more.

Now that’s some adobo, bro. Learn about adobo and its origins here!

Chipotle pepper added to a food processor with other Mexican Spreadable Cheese ingredients

Add the same ingredients as the shakeable cheese to the food processor with a little olive oil and you have a sexy looking spread. A chipotle pepper in adobo sauce takes it to the next level with a smoky, spicy wave of flavor.

This version is perfect as a dip, sandwich spread, or base layer in burritos. But we’re not done yet.

Blue corn tortilla chips and a bowl of simple Vegan Mexican Cheese Spread
Dipping a blue corn tortilla chip into a bowl of Spreadable Vegan Cheese

Add some hot water to the spreadable cheese and we’ve got queso!

This version is perfect for virtually any Mexican-inspired dish, especially nachos, burritos, taco salads, and dips. Sit tight because I’ve got a recipe coming next week using this version that makes thee perfect healthy vegan snack for parties, game days and lazy afternoon lounging. Can’t wait!

Using a whisk to add water to spreadable cheese to make Vegan Mexican Queso

If you make this recipe in any form, please let us know! Leave a comment below, or tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers!

Vegan Mexican Queso sliding off of a whisk into a bowl

Smoky Vegan Cheese (Three Ways)

10-minute vegan cheese with smoky spices THREE ways: shakeable, spreadable, or pourable! Healthy, easy, fast, and surprisingly close to the real thing.
Author Minimalist Baker
Vegan Mexican Queso falling off a whisk into a bowl
4.88 from 71 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Snack
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 10 Days




  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1 chipotle in adobo with a little sauce (or sub salsa or your favorite hot sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil (for blending // optional)


  • 1 cup of the spreadable + hot water


  • To make the shakeable cheese, add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until a fine meal is achieved (see photo). Store in a jar and refrigerate, and use on anything from tacos to salads to tofu scrambles.
  • To make the spreadable cheese, add raw cashews to a food processor and process into a butter, scraping down sides as needed. Add in spices and chipotle pepper and mix until until a spread is formed. You may need to add a little oil to help things blend together. Store in a jar and refrigerate to keep fresh, and use as a dip or spread.
  • To make the queso, simply scoop out desired portion of the spreadable cheese and add very hot water a little at a time and whisk until pourable. Use as a dip, tacos and salads. Store leftovers in a jar in the fridge to keep fresh.


*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 2 Tbsp of the shakeable cheese (which yields a total of 6 servings). For estimates on the spread and queso, roughly double those numbers per serving due to increased volume/weight.
*Recipe as originally written yields ~2 cups cheese.
*Learn more about the origins of queso here, which takes inspiration from Southwest cuisine and classic Mexican flavors.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 two-Tbsp serving Calories: 106 Carbohydrates: 6.6 g Protein: 5.1 g Fat: 7.3 g Saturated Fat: 1.3 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 202 mg Fiber: 1.6 g Sugar: 1 g

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  1. Eliza says

    Hi! I was wondering if it would be possible to switch out the cashews for anything else? I always try to make at least one of my party foods vegan, but there are some nut allergies I need to accommodate as well! Thank you :)

  2. Sarah says

    This stuff is divine! I make it on repeat and everybody loves it – when I share… 😉 So so good- in my experience of making this probably a dozen times over the years the flavors meld and mature in the fridge a bit. I’ve tasted and added another half of a chipotle thinking it needed more flavor – that made it pretty hot.

    One good sized chipotle plus a lil juice is perfect- plus those lil peppers keep in the fridge (in a glass container) indefinitely it seems. Don’t worry about opening a can and not getting to use them- you’ll make this dip on repeat. 🎉🙌🌶

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kim! The cheese won’t be as smoky or flavorful, but it should still be yummy! Let us know how it goes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Malinda, you can leave it out and it will still be tasty, just not as “cheesy”. We’d suggest adding more salt, to taste. Hope that helps!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Carrie! You can always see the nutrition information below the ingredients and notes. This cheese has 106 calories in a 2 Tbsp serving. Hope this helps!

  3. Jeff B says

    I’m always just floored by how amazing your recipes taste. And always better than compared to other excellent plant based sites. Thank you!

  4. KP says

    I have made this multiple times and it’s delicious! It has helped me significantly cut down my cheese consumption. My favorite is to eat it on a wrap with black beans and avocado soooo good. I usually triple the recipe and store in freezer

  5. Tiffany B says

    We have been craving nachos and this was the key part we were missing; both vegan and non-vegan family members agree!

  6. AW says

    I absolutely love this queso, however, I attempted reheating in the microwave and it just becomes thick and hard. What methods do you use to reheat when removing from the refrigerator?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi, it’s best when fresh, but you could try adding water for reheating. The microwave or a saucepan should work.

  7. Sue says

    Hello there !
    I made this dip and LOVE it. It’s delic !

    Question – does the dip freeze well ?


    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoy it, Sue! We haven’t tried freezing it so we’re not sure. Let us know if you try it!

  8. Sue says

    Hi there
    I’m making right now. I know I made this before but added salsa instead of chipotle in Adobe
    I’m following the spread directions and it’s quite thick and crumbly if that makes sense. It didn’t happen before but I think I added quite a bit of salsa
    Should I add some hot water to thin it out more adobe liquid or salsa. ? Tnx so much
    Making it just to put on some crackers but would use for tostitos dipping as well. Tnx :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yes, that should work! But you may need to make more of it so that it stays above the blades and blends properly.

    • Sue says

      Hi there
      Is the chipote REALLY SPICY? I’m a mild type person but a touch of zip is ok.
      And you don’t soak cashews right ?

      Thanks 😊

  9. Marie says

    Delicious! About as close as we’ve been able to find to regular queso, and went perfectly on our veggie enchiladas.

  10. yolisa says

    We used this with the 7 layer dip and it is sooooo delicious! We omitted the oil and used a little extra hot water. Otherwise followed exactly. Thank you!

  11. Jill says

    I made the spread using 1/2 cup raw cashews and 1 cup cooked drained garbanzo beans. I processed the cashews first. They never quite made it to smooth cashew butter, but they did release their oils making it easier to blend. Then I added the garbanzos and the other ingredients. And to make it blend better I added a little of the bean liquid (instead of oil). It’s really good, probably not as rich as using all cashews, but I wanted it to have less fat content. Great as a sandwich spread or dip. Sort of like a queso/hummus. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Jen says

    This is just what I was looking for! Not too spicy and delicious over steamed broccoli and potatoes. Delicious.

  13. Maggie says

    This is delicious!!!! Clogged my blender a bit but added some water and then it was fine. Made the queso version over some meatless tacos and didn’t even miss the cheese!!

  14. Kelsey says

    My Omni family loved this in dip form and couldn’t stop eating it! I had to be super patient to get the cashews into a butter but it happened! And was well worth the work!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We don’t find it necessary, but you can for the queso. The other two might end up too liquidy.

  15. Molly says

    Completely AMAZING queso! Gonna make your vegan seven layer dip for the super bowl tomorrow, and if THIS liquid gold is any part of the recipe, I am sure it is gonna be a crowd pleaser!

  16. Madonna Nash says

    Amazing!! loved it!!! Question, did you soak the cashews first? Mine did not come out so smooth and creamy.

  17. Theresa says

    These all look amazing! I am not able to eat Cashew Nuts (or Brazil Nuts, Pistachios). Do you recommend another nut for this Vegan Cheese base? Thanks much!

  18. Liz says

    I made this and my partner and I really like it! The only element we’d like to improve is that it’s very sweet – I think the cashews just bring a sweetness that’s difficult to cut. We used raw cashews (and didn’t soak it or anything, missed that in your recipe). We tried adding some acidity in the form of hot sauce, but it’s still so sweet. Do you have any recommendations? Overall we really like it, though, and think it would be super tasty with beans and avocado.

  19. Yesenia says

    Hi! Is it possible to substitute the nutritional yeast or omit? I’m excited to try but I’m unable to use nutritional yeast.

      • Khat says

        I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but will very soon – it looks fantastic. As for nutritional yeast – I am quite allergic. I made a nacho “not yo cheese” which called for nutritional yeast and substituted chick pea flour with a good dose of garlic powder, onion powder and bit extra salt. It worked out great, very satisfying rich taste. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Emma says

    I made the queso version for your 7 layer dip, awesome flavors – I’ve been eating the leftovers for lunches this week with tortilla chips! It didn’t turn out exactly pourable like yours looks, I think it was my bad for adding the water and mixing it with the food processor instead of a whisk. The texture was more like a hummus, but still delicious. Do you have any tips/recipes to use up the rest of the Chipotle peppers? Do you know how long they’ll last in the refrigerator? Thanks!

    • Mary Shaw says

      I take the chipotles and sauce and put in a container add unsweetnened vegan milk and process with my emersion blender. Then I freeze in small containers to use later on. It freezes soft so you can actually scrape it out with a spoon to use to spice up any recipe and add smokiness. then put right back in freezer.

    • Tiffany says

      I place leftover chipotles in an ice cube tray (1 per cube) and divide the adobo across them. Once frozen, they store well in a freezer bag or airtight container.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Another reader used 3 TBSP of Frank’s and had success with it, but feel free to add less to begin with and adjust to your liking!

  21. Shakeitup coaching says

    Mmmmm making it as we speak… I have to say you are one Of the sweetest thing in my life ?
    Loving it!

  22. Kate L says

    I’ve made this recipe many times before and its always turned out delicious. Today, I tried subbing the cashews for chickpeas and it came out great too! Great alternative for those who are looking for a low fat option!

  23. tzephyr says

    So I’m trying to be vegan for a month, and out of nowhere this MAJOR craving for nachos hit me HARD. Found this recipe, didn’t have any nutritional yeast so I subbed it with soya sauce at just under half (1.5 tablespoon) of what the recipe called for nutritional yeast. Thinned it out with some hot water, poured it over my tortilla chips, dumped in some salsa and BAM! I licked the whole bowl clean in 5 seconds. Couldn’t even tell the difference for the life of me! And I’m one of those people who turns her nose up in the air with vegan substitutes saying “I can tell a little bit of difference”. Not only was my tummy happy with neutralizing the craving, but it was also SO happy that it wasn’t real cheese (I’m lacto-sensitive). Going to make another batch now!
    In case it got lost in the word dump: sub nutritional yeast with soy sauce at 2:1 ratio! It works well!

  24. Sarah says

    Hello! I want you to know that I love your website & youtube channel! You inspire me to cook more plant-based, despite my steak-loving husband. I’m going to slowly work meatless monday into our diets and get him used to some plant proteins. I used to be vegan/veggie and never ate red meat, but now I eat steak almost regularly. I’m actually concerned about my cholestrol, to be honest.. lol but anyway, I have a question! I made some nacho cheese yesterday, a different recipe, but it was cashews, water, and nutritional yeast and yielded 3 cups. I have 2 cups leftover, and I don’t know if I can finish it by the end of the week. How long will it stay good for in the fridge? The girls are coming over next Thursday and I’m planning on doing vegan mexican (hello black bean taquitos) with my cashew queso. Will it be bad by then? Can I freeze it and then dethaw in the fridge and warm it up in a saucepan? If I can’t use it and have to make a new batch, I’m going to try your recipe here. Thanks so much!

  25. Molly Kirkpatrick says

    I made this last night because I’m throwing my engagement party today and want to make the pinwheels. It firmed up a lot over night. When I tried to spread it, it seemed very dry. What’s the best way to get this ready to use? Should I put it back in the vita mix and add a little hot water or oil? Or should I just try to leave it out to soften. It tastes great, but the texture isnt going to spread I fear. I don’t want to ruin it!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Molly! Yes – I’d recommend adding some hot water and stirring until a thinner consistency is achieved!

  26. Sara says

    I made this today and it’s delicious! I must not have the right kind of blender to do the spreadable. I added water (not sure how much) until it could blend. It’s still very thick so I may add more hot water to use it as queso for a layered bean dip. Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely be making this regularly for game day! ?

  27. Mtini says

    What kind of nutritional yeast do you use? I just learned about fortified vs unfortified, and I’m bummed I’ve been eating fortified nooch my whole life!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Victoria! I don’t know about freezing it, but the batch does last for quite a while (up to 10 days) in the fridge!

      • Victoria Capehart says

        Thanks for the response! It taste really good. My boyfriend who was a meat eater when I first met him loves the queso in nachos I make.

  28. Peggy says

    Delicious. I added about 3TBS of Frank’s RedHot original cayenne pepper sauce. I’m not a fan of adobo chilies. I added the sauce a 1/2 tbs at a time to make sure it wasn’t to over powering. ?

  29. Angela says

    I don’t like most vegan cheeses but this one is exceptional. The smokiness of the Adobe gives it the same richness of queso! And so easy. Can’t wait to make this again.

  30. Catherine says

    I want to make a cheese sauce for potato wedges. I’m used to cheddar cheese flavor. Which of your cheese recipes would you recommend to someone who’s new to eating vegan cheese?

    Also, are any of your cheese recipes close in flavor to cheddar cheese?

  31. Lisa says

    How much of adobo to use ? I also do not enjoy any spiciness in my food so I plan on using mild Salsa. How much to use ?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lisa! I would recommend using a couple tablespoons of your favorite salsa in place of the adobo! Hope this helps :)

  32. Meg says

    I just made the recipe for the spread, following the posted directions. I processed the cashews for quite a while – they did not get to the paste stage. I added the rest of the ingredients, and the whole thing ended up in a tight ball in my processor. It took 3Tbs. of olive oil to loosen it up enough to spread, but the consistency is smooth, and the taste is delicious. Thanks for a good recipe! I still have a question – there is no mention of soaking the cashews anywhere – are they supposed to be soaked?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Meg! Glad you enjoyed this recipe! There is no soaking required for this recipe, but if you want a queso, we recommend using 1 cup of the spreadable + hot water.

  33. CC says

    Hi -I was wondering if you have to soak the cashews for the shakeable cheese? Doesn’t it just clump up if the nuts are wet? I see where that would be good for the spread and queso, but for the other? Thanks!

  34. Anne-Marie says

    I have a question that I’ve never been able to answer ! Why do we need to take raw cashews and not roasted cashews to make fake cheese ? It’s kind of hard to find where I live ! :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Anne-Marie! Raw cashews just seem to work better and creates a better vegan cheese, which cannot be achieved using roasted!

  35. sarah says

    I love every recipe I have tried so far from minimalist baker, and there’s a fair number of them, but this was so amazing I had to say thanks!! I doubled pretty much everything to have two batches for two pans of enchiladas, but now I have to make more, because I ate so much. Thanks again for all the awesomeness you share!

  36. Katie says

    Delicious! I made the queso dip ~ super tasty. I had to add more nutritional yeast, cumin, and salt for my taste buds. Thanks Dana! :)