Vegan queso blanco, or White Cheese Dip, is a creamy and delicious dip with no nutritional yeast. It's a quick, easy dip that is flavor-packed and sure to win over everyone, vegan or not. It's perfect for parties, game days, movie nights, or as a delicious addition to any meal.
You've probably noticed that nutritional yeast is a staple in the plant-based culinary world. Now, don't get me wrong, I totally get the appeal of 'nooch' – its cheesy flavor can be a game changer, like in this Easy Vegan Cashew Queso. But I wanted to offer a queso blanco that's just as rich and satisfying without leaning on this go-to ingredient for those who don't want it or can't have it.
The result? A creamy, dreamy queso that stands out in its simplicity, letting the natural flavors of the other ingredients shine. To learn more about nutritional yeast, visit Nutritional Yeast: 9 Easy and Quick Recipes
For other delicious nutritional yeast-free dips or sauces, try Salsa Romesco (Easy Romesco Sauce), Cuban Chimichurri Sauce, High-Protein Lupini Bean Hummus, and Mojo Picón (Garlicky Red Pepper Sauce).
Why You'll Love This Vegan Queso Blanco
Incredibly Versatile: Whether you want to dip, drizzle, or spread, this vegan queso blanco is great to keep in the fridge as a quick flavor booster for many meals.
Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free: It's free from gluten and dairy, making it a great dip if you are serving a variety of diets.
Health-Conscious Choice: It's a healthier alternative to traditional cheese sauces, often high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Simple and Accessible Ingredients: This recipe doesn't need hard-to-find ingredients. The ingredients are found in all major grocery stores, making it easy to whip up anytime.
Fast To Make: You can have an appetizer or a flavor-boosting sauce ready in less than 10 minutes.
Flavorful: The blend of spices creates a depth of flavor that everyone loves. This dish is a great way to introduce plant-based eating to friends and family without compromising taste.
Does Vegan Queso Blanco Really Taste Like Traditional Queso Blanco
I know this is the burning question, and as always, I will give it to you as I see it.
Short answer: mostly yes. Keep reading for my nuanced response.
Taste is subjective, so people who are used to traditional dairy cheese might notice a difference, while those who regularly enjoy plant-based alternatives might find this vegan queso blanco incredibly close to the real deal. It's all about expectations and personal taste buds.
Texture-wise, as I note in the ingredients, tapioca starch helps give this vegan queso that classic, gooey queso consistency. So, regarding texture, it can come very close to dairy queso blanco, especially if it's not overcooked (very important, so see the tips section).
But does it taste exactly the same? I would say it's similar. It's hard to replicate the taste of dairy cheese with plant-based ingredients perfectly. However, this vegan queso blanco is delicious in its own right. It's rich, creamy, and packed with familiar queso blanco flavors that make it a fantastic dip or topping in its own league. Everyone who tries it loves it.
So, to recap, if you're a cheese aficionado, you might slightly miss that distinct dairy tang. But if you're open to a plant-based alternative that's flavorful, rich, and creamy, this vegan queso blanco recipe comes close and is a delightful surprise. It's all about going in with an open mind, and maybe, just maybe, you'll find a new favorite dip! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Here is the lineup for this recipe. The ingredients are easy to find at all major grocery store chains. See the recipe card for quantities.
- raw cashews
- plant-based milk like oat, soy, or almond
- lemon juice
- tapioca flour/starch
- garlic or sub with garlic powder
- onion powder
- canned green chiles
- vegan butter
- cayenne pepper
- pepper flakes
- fresh cilantro and jalapeno sliced for garnish (optional)
If you don't have a high-speed blender, soften the cashews in water for about 4 hours. See Guide to Soaking Cashews for faster alternatives.
I think fresh garlic is the way to go in this recipe. Using garlic powder is an alternative, but it does alter the taste of the original recipe.
Canned green chilies can be found in the international aisle of all major grocery stores. You can substitute it with a can of chopped jalapeños or fresh jalapeños.
Fresh lemon juice is a must for this recipe. Freshly squeezed lemon juice has a vibrant, tangy taste that's hard to beat. It's like the difference between hearing a live concert and listening to a recording – both are great, but one has that extra 'oomph'.
I've played mad scientist with both corn starch and potato starch in this recipe, but let's say the results were more 'oops' than 'eureka.' These substitutes don't bring the magic that tapioca starch does. Tapioca gives the queso that perfect, slightly thick, shiny, stretchy, melty texture reminiscent of traditional cheese. Its flavor is neutral, and it's quick to thicken. So, I recommend sticking with tapioca starch. Let me know in the comments if you use a different thickener.
For those who like visuals, here's what you'll be doing. See the recipe card for more information.
Combine all ingredients, except green chilies, in a blender until smooth.
Pour the blended mixture into a medium-sized pot over medium heat to activate the tapioca flour and thicken the sauce.
Stir in green chilies and butter, stirring to prevent burning. IMPORTANT NOTE: When you notice it begins to thicken, remove it from heat. It will thicken as it sits.
Enjoy the warm vegan queso with tortilla chips and veggies or as a topping for Mexican dishes, pretzels, and wraps.
- The queso should be velvety and pourable. It will become much thicker and more gelatinous if you cook it too long. It still tastes fine, but it is not what people expect when you say queso blanco. If it gets too thick, add a tablespoon of more plant-based milk at a time.
- Stirring the queso regularly prevents it from getting a little bit of skin on the top as it sits, but that does not alter the flavor or consistency at all. Just give it a good stir.
- It's important to keep stirring the sauce when thickening so it doesn't burn the bottom of the pot. When you see it begin to thicken, remove it from heat immediately for maintaining the best consistency.
Add ½ cup of salsa instead of green chilis to vary the flavor profile.
Roasted garlic is milder and sweeter than raw garlic so add it instead of raw garlic for a deeper, more nuanced flavor.
Add fresh or dried herbs like chives or parsley for more variations on flavor.
A bit of liquid smoke or smoked paprika adds a smoky flavor that pairs wonderfully with the creamy base.
With these serving suggestions, you can enjoy the rich and creamy taste of vegan queso blanco in many delicious ways.
- Classic Dip: Serve it with tortilla chips, soft pretzels, pita chips, raw veggies, or crunchy breadsticks for a classic snack or appetizer.
- Nachos: Drizzle it over a plate of nachos loaded with black beans, jalapeños, olives, diced tomatoes, guacamole, and vegan sour cream.
- Mexican Cuisine: Use it to add a creamy, cheesy element to tacos, burritos, fajitas, or enchiladas.
- Loaded Baked Potatoes: Spoon it over baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Add steamed broccoli, chives, and vegan bacon bits for a complete meal.
- Pasta Sauce: Toss it with your favorite pasta for an instant creamy sauce. Add in some sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or peas for extra flavor and nutrition.
- Mexican-Inspired Rice Bowl: Drizzle it over rice bowls with ingredients like quinoa, beans, corn, avocado, and salsa for a comforting and filling meal.
- Pizza Topping: Spread it on your pizza dough before adding your favorite vegan toppings for a cheesy, gooey pizza experience.
- Sandwich Spread: Use it as a spread for sandwiches or wraps to add a creamy, cheesy flavor.
- Quesadillas or Grilled Cheese: Spread it inside tortillas or on bread for making vegan quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches.
Vegan queso blanco can be stored in an airtight container and last up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator. It may thicken when cold, so gently heat it up while stirring, and add a little plant milk if necessary to bring back the creamy texture. I do not recommend freezing it - it never tastes the same.
Yes, you can prepare it in advance and reheat it gently on the stove or in the microwave. You may need to add a bit of plant milk to adjust the consistency but the flavor will remain.
What did you think?Print
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews (soaked for 4 hours if you don't have a highspeed blender)
- 2 cups oat milk (sub with soy or almond)
- 2 teaspoons tapioca flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (~half a lemon)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 garlic clove (~⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 4-ounce can of diced green chilies or jalapeños (mild or hot, you choose)
- fresh cilantro and sliced jalapeños for garnish (optional)
- pepper flakes
- Blend The Mixture: Add all the ingredients except the green chilies and butter to a blender. Blend until everything is well combined.
- Chilies and Butter: Place the mixture in a medium-sized pot on low to medium heat and add the chilies and butter.
- Heat: Heating it will activate the tapioca flour and thicken the sauce. When you see the sauce just beginning to thicken, remove it from the burner. It will thicken more as it sits.
- Serve: Serve the vegan queso blanco warm with tortilla chips, sliced vegetables, or as a sauce over your favorite Mexican dishes. It's also great with pretzels and wraps.
The queso should be velvety and pourable. It will become much thicker and more gelatinous if you cook it too long. It still tastes fine, but it is not what people expect when you say queso blanco. If it gets too thick, add a tablespoon of more plant-based milk at a time.
I've experimented with corn and potato starch in this recipe, but only tapioca starch delivers that perfect, slightly thick, shiny, and stretchy texture like traditional cheese.
Stirring the queso regularly prevents it from getting a little skin on the top as it sits, but that does not alter the flavor or consistency. Just give it a good stir.
It's essential to keep stirring the sauce as it thickens so it doesn't burn the bottom of the pot. When you see it begin to thicken, remove it from heat immediately to maintain the best consistency.
Nutritional information is only an estimate.
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Dips
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Mexican-Inspired
- Diet: Vegan
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 350
- Sugar: 18.3 g
- Sodium: 2436.8 mg
- Fat: 16.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 45.8 g
- Protein: 6.9 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: quick, easy, under 30 minutes