Never have I ever been a night or morning person, run a marathon, or liked queso. Drippy cheese is not my thing despite growing up in Texas (home of the best Tex Mex and queso), despite growing up with a mom who made queso with Rotel tomatoes, despite marrying into a family that tops their tacos with white queso. After being away for two years, I flew to Texas twice in the span of two weeks, consuming a diet of chips and salsa like a bear before winter. Never have I ever liked queso until Austin, TX at Picnik over a bowl of creamy vegan queso and almond flour tortilla chips with my sister. That’s when it all changed.
After landing home, I unpacked my suitcase, bought raw cashews and nutritional yeast (two ingredients I don’t keep stocked in my minimalist kitchen), and got straight to work on recreating this Cashew Queso from Picnik. I’m happy to report that it’s spot on. I’m also happy to report that I love queso. Cashew Queso, that is. Because when you’ve spent the last 34 years of your life enduring side-eyes, turned shoulders, and turntables screeching to a stop when you mention that you don’t like queso, well, it can take a social toll on you. Ha!
This cashew queso recipe has been designed to come together as quickly as a craving hits, in a blender. No overnight soaking of cashews necessary. It’s really cozy served warm but just as nice eaten chilled. And if Nacho Night is on your weekly meal plan too, make a batch of this vegetarian quinoa taco meat, a batch of quick pickled onions, and you’ll have a recipe for a very happy, quick dinner. Don’t skip the avocados and diced mangos.
So, I guess we can be friends now, if you can handle me falling asleep on the couch after a dinner party. Some things never change.
A simple naturally vegan cashew queso that comes together as quickly as a craving, in a blender. No soaking of cashews necessary.
1 1/2 c. boiling water 1 c. raw cashews* 1/4 c. roughly chopped onions 1 large clove of garlic, peeled 1/4 c. nutritional yeast 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1/4 tsp. chili powder 1/4 tsp. paprika 1/8 tsp. of turmeric (for color)
1 finely diced peppadew (or similar pickled pepper) dash of paprika
Bring water to a boil. Add cashews, onion, and garlic to a high-powered blender and top with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and soak for 10 minutes.
Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, chili powder, paprika, and turmeric. Cover and blend on high for 30 seconds or until completely smooth. The mixture will look like a watery smoothie.
Pour cashew queso into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until thickened to a queso or gravy consistency, whisking often. Serve warm. Top with garnishes as desired.
Store covered in a container for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, pour into a pan over low heat and heat through, adding water to thin to desired consistency.
*I’ve made this with roasted and salted cashews, what I keep stocked on the regular in my kitchen, and it’s just as good, just scale back on the salt by 1/2 teaspoon.
Use this recipe as a base. Add your favorite toppings or mix-ins like Rotel tomatoes or charred corn like this Elote Queso recipe.