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Vegan queso in a bowl

Nut-Free Vegan Queso

  • Author: Liz Madsen
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Creamy and cheesy with a kick, this Nut-Free Vegan Queso will surely rock your socks off in 5 minutes or less.


Units Scale
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (or raw cashews) (see note 1 for low-fat options)
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled (see note 2)
  • 1 single chipotle pepper in adobo, optional (or more to taste) (see note 3)
  • 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or 1/2 cup vegan shredded cheese)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Note: If you do not have a high powered blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec, you’ll want to soak your raw sunflower seeds (or sub cashews) for 30-60 minutes in just-boiled water. Then drain the water before adding to your blender. Additionally, you may want to blend in 30 second bursts to let your blender rest in between. I didn’t always have a high powered blender so I used to have to let my blender cool down in between blending to make sure it didn’t overheat.
  2. Blend: Add all ingredients to the blender, cover with its lid, and slowly turn the power all the way up. Blend on high for 2 ½ - 3 minutes, adding more water as needed to blend (I use the full 1 ¼ cups water to blend). I do 3 full minutes to get it super creamy and also because 3 minutes heats it up nicely so I can enjoy hot queso with my chips. You can also heat it in a pot or the microwave after blending if needed.
  3. Serve: Serve that nut-free vegan queso in a bowl or thin with a little water to drizzle over chips. Note that when heated, it can form a darker matte layer on top… this is just a chemical reaction that’s totally safe to eat. You can always stir to remove it. Top your queso with cilantro, pico de gallo, or chopped chipotle peppers in adobo from the can (if you like spicy food!).
  4. Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.


  • Note 1: Raw sunflower seeds are way cheaper than raw cashews, though you’re also welcome to use raw cashews cup for cup. If you do not have a high powered blender, soak your seeds or cashews in just boiled water for 30-60 minutes and then drain the water before blending. This will help make your queso ultra creamy. If watching your fat intake, either substitute canned/cooked white beans (like cannellini beans) or silken/soft tofu (if using tofu you will need less water, so only add as much water as needed).
  • Note 2: I prefer the flavor of fresh peeled garlic for this recipe. Mince it up first or use granulated garlic if you don’t have a high powered blender.
  • Note 3: Chipotle peppers in adobo (a canned good you can find international aisle) is what gives our queso its spice. I only used one pepper from the can for just a small kick, but you can add more if you like spicy. You could also substitute any hot sauce, sriracha, harissa, or a ground spice like chipotle or cayenne if you don’t have chipotle peppers in adobo. If you do not like spicy food, just leave this out. You could always add a little smoked paprika for some more flavor.
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Snack, cheese, party food
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Vegan cheese, vegan queso