How To Make Cashew Queso in a Few Easy Steps
For anyone who may be skeptical, please stay with me. I promise it’s going to be worth it!
I first had cashew queso at a local food cart that serves all plant-based food. This cart became small-town famous for its vegan “crunch wrap supreme” that hits all of the cheesy, crunchy, beefy feels. In an all-consuming state of curiosity, I reached out to the owner to find out what that queso was made of.
The answer? Cashews and nutritional yeast.
From there, I was on a mission to create the creamiest, gooiest, cheesiest cashew queso that even the most avid cheese lovers would adore. I started with a few fundamental recipes—a couple that promised to deliver the best cashew queso with three ingredients or less, and some that required substantially more effort. Yet all of them seemed to be missing something—that zing, that ‘Aha!’ moment.
And then I found it—pickled jalapeño juice. It was my missing ingredient! Sure, many recipes suggested adding two or three jalapeños, but it wasn’t flavor-forward enough for a dip reminiscent of Sunday afternoon football and little league snack shack nachos. But the jalapeño juice? Now that was the flavor this queso was missing.
Cashews are smooth and dense; they become exceptionally creamy when blended compared to any other nut. Raw cashews are preferable, but roasted cashews will work out fine. If you do end up using roasted cashews, a short soak in some water will help soften them back up. In this particular recipe, I heat up the vegetable stock and soak in the hot liquid before blending all of the ingredients.
The turmeric is not crucial to this recipe, but it gives it a beautiful yellow tint that emulates true cheesy queso. Turmeric is also well renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties (although you probably won’t use enough to truly reap these benefits).
Why Nutritional Yeast?
If you know anyone who adheres to a vegan diet, they’ll tell you that nutritional yeast is a powerhouse of nutrients and flavor! According to Healthline, it can help aid in the prevention of B-12 deficiencies in vegans and boasts an almost uncanny nutty and cheesy flavor. It’s also known for helping lower cholesterol and contains powerful antioxidants. Not to mention, if you haven’t enjoyed nutritional yeast sprinkled over a hot bowl of popcorn, you’re missing out.
When shopping for your ingredients, make sure to choose raw unsalted cashews. If you have some roasted cashews on hand, you can still use them; instead, you will want to soak them in the veggie broth for longer than raw cashews.
For the fire-roasted tomatoes, there are a few options:
• Purchase the 14-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes from any local grocer. I use these all of the time and keep a stockpile on hand; they complement so many different recipes and dishes!
• Roast them yourself using your oven. Set your broiler on high before lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the tomatoes in half and place skin-side down. Lightly drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt before placing them in the oven. Roast them for 10 minutes on the upper rack, flip to skin side up, and roast for another 5 minutes.
• Using your gas range, you can skewer the tomatoes and roast them like a marshmallow until the skins become blistered.
This recipe calls for half of the tomatoes to be blended and the other half to be added afterward. This gives the dip some depth and texture. If you’d prefer not to have chunky tomatoes in the dip, blend them all in!
How spicy do you like it?
This is such a personal preference. If you’re serving this to a large crowd, I would suggest keeping the heat lower than you may typically prefer. However, if you know that most of your guests like a little more kick in their queso, go ahead and use the full portions of green chiles and chipotle peppers when making the queso. You can cut the heat in half by omitting the chipotle peppers, which are seeded, and using only the adobo sauce.
Preparing the cashews
They won’t need much preparation so long as you’re using raw unsalted cashews. If you are using roasted cashews, you can soak them in liquid anywhere from an hour to overnight. Choose a container that will allow you to fill with cashews and completely cover with water before covering. When you’re ready to start making the cashew queso, simply drain them and follow the recipe!
Making it ahead
Go ahead and prepare this dip ahead of time for easy reheating. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but making it one to two days ahead is ideal. Simply heat the cashew queso in a covered saucepan on medium-low, stirring occasionally. In my experience, the consistency has always reverted to its original form once reheated, but you can add a small amount of veggie stock if you feel that it’s thickened up too much. Simply add ¼ cup at a time to the cashew queso once it becomes warm or hot again until it reaches the desired consistency.
Blending your cashew queso
If you have a blender, this will work excellently. You can use a hand blender like NutriBullet or similar but will need to mix it in two or more batches to fit all of the ingredients into the mixing cup and ensure a homogenous consistency.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s make cashew queso!
Make a creamy, cheese-like queso dip using cashews! You don’t have to eat vegan or dairy-free to love this take on cheesy queso. Garnish with fresh cilantro, jalapeños and serve with corn tortilla chips.
1 cup Raw unsalted cashews
1 cup Vegetable stock
1 White onion
14-oz. can Fire-roasted tomatoes
2 1/2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
1 tsp Turmeric (optional)
1 tsp Kosher salt
4 oz can Green chiles (spicy or mild)
1 Chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce)
1 tbsp Adobo sauce
2 tbsp Roasted garlic paste (or minced garlic)
2 tbsp Juice from pickled jalapeños
- In a small saucepan, bring vegetable stock to simmer, add cashews, and cover
- While the cashews soak, dice the onion. Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until they become soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and remove from heat
- Roughly chop the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and set aside
- In a blender, carefully add the hot vegetable stock and cashews
- Add the salt, turmeric, nutritional yeast, green chiles, adobo sauce, chipotles, and sauteed onions and garlic
- Blend until the consistency becomes smooth
- Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator before serving
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, jalapeños, and dairy-free sour cream and serve with chips
To reheat, spoon dip into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup of vegetable stock if needed.
Keywords: Queso, Vegan, Cashew