Amazing Cashew Queso Sauce

Vegan cashew queso sauce is served in a small dipping bowl and used to dress up a crispy tortilla chip.

Don’t you just love hyperbolic titles? Seriously, though. This sauce is incredible. A little sweet, a little spicy, a little sassy. It’s everything I crave in a dressing.

There was a time when I would have called dressings my culinary specialty; nowadays, I think to think that I’ve become a little more well rounded as a cook! Nevertheless, I think that a great dressing or sauce is pure magic; it can elevate a grain bowl or a salad or any sort of vegetable dish to new heights. As I was first getting into raw food, I remember how amazed I was to discover how versatile and creative and nutritious dressings could be, how excited I was to infuse them with all sorts of herbs and spices and superfoods. Since then, I’ve made it a weekend tradition to prepare at least two dressings that I love (usually one that’s creamy, like a tahini dressing, and one that’s closer to a vinaigrette) for the week ahead. And when I was writing my book, dressings were one of my main focuses. The 15 dressings, dips, and sauces I included are some of my faves.

A creamy vegan queso sauce, made with nachos, is dusted with smoked paprika and served with chips.

So, too, is this cashew queso sauce. Nothing shocking, nothing new — there are plenty of cashew queso recipes out there. But, judging from how many folks asked me to post the recipe when I mentioned it on Instagram, it seems that there’s plenty of interest in another solid queso creation.

And this one is solid indeed. When I whipped this one up last weekend, I tasted it and thought, “this is perfect.” It’s not often that any recipe feels so immediately right. I hope you’ll agree.

A small bowl of a creamy vegan sauce, accompanied by nacho chips.

Vegan cashew queso sauce is served in a small dipping bowl and used to dress up a crispy tortilla chip.
5 from 1 vote

Truly Amazing Cashew Queso Sauce

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Yields: 8 servings


  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours, drained, and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice


  • Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor or a high speed blender till smooth. If you use a food processor, stop frequently while blending to scrape the sides of the machine down. The queso sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

A tortilla chip, freshly dipped in a small bowl of cream vegan cashew queso sauce.

The queso sauce is a fabulous dip, a perfect topper for nachos, a great sauce to smother your burritos or tacos with, and it would be so awesome with my raw, vegan taco salad.  It’s also a tasty salad dressing, as evidenced by this recent lunch creation:

A simple mix, mostly leftovers, like many of my work-from-home lunches. Leftover arugula salad from dinner the night before, leftover jicama and mango salsa, and a crumbled leftover veggie burger, based loosely on this recipe, but with some toasted and ground pecans thrown in. Tasty stuff.

I hope you enjoy the long weekend — especially if you happen to have Monday off! Either way, I’ll return for weekend reading on Sunday, a ritual I so look forward to.


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  1. 5 stars
    This was the best cashew queso I’ve made at home. Any tips on how to keep the nice silky texture when reheating it? Thanks.

    • Hi Holly! So glad you liked it. I’d heat it up over a double boiler or very gently (for a minute or so, over low heat) in a nonstick saucepan.

  2. Gena, I just made THE most Truly Amazing Cashew Queso Sauce for the first, but definitely not the last, time…IT IS DELICIOUS!
    Thank you for this and so many other great recipes. Yours are quickly becoming staples in our newly plant based home.

  3. This is a fabulous recipe! I let it sit in the fridge for a while and used it as a dip.

  4. Gena, I would love to try some of these, but a year ago or so I tried to go vegan and got a wallop of kidney stones from eating kale, spinach, beets etc…it was excruciatingly painful. I am really hesitant to try it again.
    On another topic – your salads look scrumptious, could you list the veggies you put in them?

  5. What a great idea a cashew queso sauce is! I could definitely dive in and devour all of it’s cheesy deliciousness right now.. great recipe!

  6. My acupuncturist told me last week that I need to eat more root vegetables and tubers, so I’ve been dreaming of loaded sweet potato toppings. This looks like it will fit the bill deliciously! Thanks, Gena; you’re always inspiring. xoxo

  7. I’m always looking for new dressings & sauces to add to my bowls and salads as I tend to go for the same old ones over and over again. This one sounds great =)

  8. Gena…I totally agree with you; you have become a more well rounded cook…but…your dressings are totally out of this world! I have tried most of them, with your Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tahini dressing being my all time fave. This new one may give it some stiff competition though! Soaking my cashews as I type!!

  9. Instead of using tomato paste, do you think I could use blended raw tomatoes or a combo of blended raw and dried tomatoes? How would you suggest I modify the recipe (like maybe not add any water?) to accommodate the substitution?

  10. My brother has been asking me lately to make a vegan version of nachos. This recipe is just the thing I need to make that happen! I bet this sauce would also be good made with tahini, instead of cashews, for drizzling on top of pilafs or roasted vegetables.

  11. Sounds worthy of your title and beyond. I truly miss hot spicy queso from days of old!
    Any hints on heating up? I’m thinking of whether it would separate or any suggestions for that.
    Thanks Gena.