This vegan queso is creamy, thick, and full of cheesy umami goodness. Use it as a dip for chips or a sauce for any Tex-Mex dish. Pair it with a vegan chorizo or chili for an indulgent and kind plant-based treat.
I’ve been on a plant-based Tex-Mex streak lately. Living in Texas, it’s hard to keep the cuisine off my mind. I’d gotten used to eating tacos at least once a week. Queso and chips occasionally. And heavier dishes like enchiladas, also occasionally. I really love the complexity of flavor in these foods and was excited to start recreating them using just plants.
Having already made recipes for enchiladas, chili, chorizo, and migas, I figured queso would be a good dish to have a simple go-to recipe for. It’s addictively tasty, pretty straightforward to make, goes well with many other Tex-Mex dishes, and avoids all the processed ingredients and additives of the standard version. So there are huge benefits to using this recipe, even for those who don’t necessarily avoid animal products.
Simple flavors and textures combined
The best thing about this recipe, beyond flavor and texture, is the simplicity of the ingredients. Nuts, potatoes, onions, garlic, chile powder, and nutritional yeast combine for a rounded cheesy flavor and a rich and creamy consistency. No mystery ingredients here.
Other recipes call for either potatoes or nuts, but I went for a combined approach to get the best of both. The nuts lend their richness, while the pureed potato makes the texture extra velvety.
The cheesy flavor of queso (and of cheese in general) is not exactly a single flavor. There’s a savory component to it, but there’s also some sourness, some spiciness, and some other elements. The onion, garlic, cumin, and chile help round out the flavor in these other directions, so you taste more than just nutritional yeast.
Like any cheesy sauce, there are lots of ways to use this queso.
- If you’re using it as a chip dip, you can add things like plant-based chorizo or chili, tomato salsa, avocado, cilantro, or black beans.
- It makes a good sauce for tacos, too.
- And it would go well on roasted veggies inside enchiladas.
- Drizzle it over your Chipotle-style Buddha bowl.
- Use it as a topping for your tostada.
You can generally serve alongside any spicy Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes – the creaminess of the queso will balance the spice. And a squeeze of lime will make the queso pop.
This queso keeps well in the fridge for 4 days and in the freezer for up to a month.
You can always stir in small amounts of hot water to it if it gets too thick at any point.
You will need a blender to combine the ingredients and achieve the intended texture of the dish.
- 6 Tablespoons olive or other cooking oil
- 1/2 large onion chopped (about 8 ounces)
- 4 ounces potato peeled and sliced thinly
- 1/2 jalapeno seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup plant milk
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon mild paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne chile powder
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat When the skillet and oil are hot, add the onion, potato, and salt. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the jalapeno and spice blend. Stir to coat the potato and onion in spices. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Stir in the plant milk, taking care to scrape up any bits of seasoning stuck to the skillet. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the potato turns soft, 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture from the skillet into a high-speed blender. Add the cashews, nutritional yeast, and water to the blender. Blend at medium speed for 20 seconds, then at high speed for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is heated through and uniformly combined.
- If the blending doesn’t heat the queso enough, you can transfer the mixture back to the skillet and warm it over medium-low heat.
- Taste a small amount of the queso and add salt as desired. Serve or store immediately.