Vegan Cauliflower Queso

You'd never know that this dairy-free cauliflower queso dip is made with veggies! Creamy cashews and non-dairy milk make the base for this spicy, savory, funky nacho cheese-style plant-based dip.
Course Appetizer, dip, Snack
Cuisine dairy free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 Cups
Calories 101 kcal


  • 3 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow or white onion sliced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric optional, for color
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tbsp red salsa of choice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 cups plain unsweetened non-dairy milk (add another 1/2 cup if using as a sauce rather than a dip)
  • 3 tbsp white or yellow miso
  • 4 cups raw cauliflower florets 14 oz.
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews chopped
  • 1/4 cup liquid from a can or jar of pickled jalapenos plus to taste
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce of choice plus to taste
  • 2 tbsp red salsa of choice



  1. Heat the oils in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, jalapeno and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, measure everything for the seasoning mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the seasoning mixture. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to sizzle, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the non-dairy milk, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir it in. Bring to a steady simmer.
  3. Add the miso, cauliflower, and cashews to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and partially cover the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture to your blender (working in batches if needed). Add the jalapeno pickling liquid and hot sauce, and blend until completely smooth. If you don't have a high-powered blender this may take a few minutes to break down the cashews. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.
  5. Rinse out the saucepan and return the blended cauliflower queso to your pan over low heat. Stir in the additional 2 tbsp of salsa, and add other seasonings (more jalapeno juice, hot sauce, salsa, or salt) to taste. You can also add a little more non-dairy milk to thin out the mixture now, depending on how you will be using it.
  6. Serve hot. Best served fresh, but leftovers keep well; the cauliflower queso will thicken more after cooling so you may need to thin it out with some added liquid when reheating.

Recipe Notes

QUANTITY: If you're using this for nachos, you'll probably end up with extra. Feel free to halve the recipe. If you're using it for a dip, then I'd recommend the full recipe

REDUCED SPICINESS: Here are my recommendations for updates if you don't want this to have a kick. Add 3 tbsp of sliced bell pepper to the saute mixture. Reduce the jalapeno pickling liquid to 1 tbsp and add 1 tbsp of distilled white vinegar. Adjust other seasoning to taste.

SOY-FREE / PALEO: Use chickpea miso or another non-soy-based miso. Or for strictly paleo, omit the miso, increase the nutritional yeast by 1 tbsp, and add 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice.

NON-DAIRY MILK: Plain soymilk is my most recommended for this recipe. Plain almond milk also works. Oat milk is not recommended due to its natural sweetness.