Vegan Chili Cheese Dip

By Alexandra Caspero on September 19, 2014
Our favorite appetizer for football games and gatherings
Serves 6-8

Hands down the best dairy-free cheese sauce I’ve ever tasted. Spicy, meaty and cheesy, this is a dip to win over even the biggest chili cheese dip fans. Vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. 

My marriage may only be 5 months old, but I think I’ve figured out the secret.

This vegan chili cheese dip —> ready by 11AM on football Sundays.

That, along with a consoling backrub when BL’s team loses might put me in the running for wife-of-the-year.

I take my role of “football snacks creator” very seriously. This dip, along with my air fryer cauliflower wings, mango salsa, vegan nachos, and air fryer black bean taquitos are his most requested items.

Skillet Of Vegan Cheese Dip

Inspiration for this Vegan Chili Cheese Dip

While BL is usually content with plain chips and salsa, I have been craving something a bit… cheesier.

This dip was everything I wanted it to be and more. Sure, it’s gluten-free, vegan, and soy free, but it doesn’t taste like it– you know what I mean? It’s perfectly spicy, meaty, and creamy- without the usual suspects.

Instead of making a traditional vegan queso dip, we start with a base of blended cashews, peppers, and nutritional yeast. If this is your first time having a cashew-base sauce, let me first assure you that a.) it will not taste like cashews and b.) the results are mind-blowing.

Blender Full Of Cheese Sauce

Key Ingredients

Hand With Chili Cheese Dup

How to Make

Make your vegan cheese sauce

Puree the cashews, bell pepper, chili seasoning, salt and milk together in a blender until creamy and smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides depending on the power of your blender.

Season the black beans

Warm the black beans in a skillet with fresh pico de gallo and taco seasoning. Add in the cheese sauce and warm through.

Now be prepared for the temptation of wanting to pour this sauce on just about everything you can get your hands on… chips, bowls of vegan chili, veggie burgers.  No judgement for wanting to convert this into a cheesy chili soup and indulge with only a spoon.

Skillet With Beans And Salsa

Frequently Asked Questions

What salsa is best?

Fresh salsa, like a pico de gallo, is best for this chili cheese dip. I have used my canning salsa in this recipe in a pinch and while it’s good, I prefer the texture of fresh salsa with this chili cheese dip.

What to serve with this chili cheese dip?

We love this chili cheese dip with chips, but it’s also great with taquitos, tacos and burrito bowls.

Vegan Chili Cheese Dip

How do I soak cashews?

Soaking cashews makes them softer and easier to blend, but I know that’s not always possible when you want this dip ASAP. For a quick soak, I usually cover cashews in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and blend.

Chili Cheese Dip With Chips In A Bowl

Nutritionally, this dip is a total game changer compared to regular cheese dips. Zero cholesterol, low in saturated fat, and high in protein, fiber, and zinc. Sorry, Ro*tel.  

No hard feelings, but we totally upped the ante. Can’t wait for you to try it!

More Dip Recipes:

More Appetizer Recipes:

Bowl Of Chili Cheese Dip

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

Chili Cheese Dip With Chips

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Chili Cheese Dip With Chips

Dairy-Free Chili Cheese Dip

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: ~6 cups
  • Category: Appetizer, Dip
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


Hands down the best dairy-free cheese sauce I’ve ever tasted. Spicy, meaty and cheesy, this is a dip to win over even the biggest chili cheese dip fans. Vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. 

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: ~6 cups
  • Category: Appetizer, Dip
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: ~6 cups
  • Category: Appetizer, Dip
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


  • 1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for at least an 1 hour, drained
  • 1 orange bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk (I used almond)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (I make this recipe and store it in a airtight jar)
  • 2 (15 oz. cans) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 oz. fresh salsa (I use fresh homestyle salsa container or pico de gallo. Jarred salsa won’t be quite the same, but can work in a pinch)

Optional garnishes: cilantro, sliced green onions.


  1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
  2. Place the cashews, orange bell pepper, milk, chili powder, salt nutritional yeast in a high-powered blender (I use my Blend-Tec). Puree until thick and creamy, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. In a large saucepan, add the taco seasoning, black beans, and fresh salsa over medium heat. Stir constantly until heated through, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add in the pureed cheese sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Season to taste with salt/pepper if needed. Garnish as desired and serve.


This recipe makes a lot! (See reviews below) To me, it’s the perfect amount to take for a party or get-together but if you are serving this for 1-3, you may want to consider halving the recipe!

did you make this?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Jonna
      November 27, 2023 AT 8:59 pm

      Made this with ground beyond beef instead of beans and went the lazy route and used jarred salsa. Very good! I’m sure using beans like the recipe calls for is good too. A cup of the dip had 20 g protein (who is eating only a fourth a cup of dip) which is really great for a side. The dip gets very thick very fast, especially if you’re keeping it warm in a crock pot, so I used quite a bit of extra oat milk to thin it out. I brought it to a gathering and everyone loved it. If you’re making this for a party definitely double the recipe because it goes fast.

      1. Alex
        November 28, 2023 AT 5:47 am

        Oh i LOVE the idea of using beyond beef– my husband would enjoy that one too. I’ve got a similar recipe for cheesy chorizo dip using the soyrizo that’s really good. And yes, thanks for the reminder– the cashews thicken as it sits and will need to be thinned in a crockpot/making ahead of time.

    2. Marilyn
      July 18, 2023 AT 2:48 pm

      Would it be okay to use a red pepper, if I don’t have an orange one?

    3. Marilyn
      February 14, 2023 AT 2:01 pm

      YUM! And simple to make!! How long will this stay good for?

      1. Alex
        February 14, 2023 AT 2:04 pm

        Will stay good in the fridge for 4-5 days

    4. Joy McKenzie
      February 8, 2023 AT 11:02 pm

      Hi!, I’m planning on making this for the Big Game on Sunday. Just curious, what is your favorite taco seasoning? Do you have your recipe available?

      Thanks! Joy

      1. Alex
        February 9, 2023 AT 10:28 am

        Hi Joy, I usually use the Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, but it’s got some kick! Otherwise, I really love Penzey’s

    5. Jessica Rask
      February 7, 2023 AT 8:17 am

      Hi Alex!
      Can you keep this warm throughout the day in a small crockpot? Or will it get clumpy? Thanks in advance!

      1. Alex
        February 7, 2023 AT 9:15 am

        Hi Jessica– yes! I’ve done that before for a game. It doesn’t necessarily get clumpy, but if you’ve ever had cashew-based sauces before, it will thicken as it sits. Therefore, I just kept a spoon near the crock pot and stirred it occasionally!

    6. Kathy Galdys
      December 14, 2022 AT 4:11 pm

      Can I substitute anything else for the salsa? My daughter has tomato issues. This dip sounds good and definitely easy.

      1. Alex
        December 22, 2022 AT 11:44 am

        The salsa gives it the tex-mex flavor, but I bet you could omit it all together and just saute the onion and beans, then add in the “queso” I make this queso as a dip on it’s own often and it’s great!

    7. Maria Neiman
      September 21, 2021 AT 1:37 pm

      quick question: which chili powder do you reccomend for this recipe to make it mild/kid friendly?
      Thank you! Love all your recipes>

      1. Alex
        September 22, 2021 AT 4:17 am

        Hi Maria– I usually use Penzey’s or Simply Organic’s mild chili powder. You can also use less chili powder here to make it more kid-friendly. I’d also recommend going with a mild taco seasoning.

    8. Sarah
      September 12, 2021 AT 5:22 pm

      This recipe is SO good! Best vegan queso dip I’ve ever had, a must try!

    9. Billiejo Rehrig
      January 13, 2021 AT 10:09 am

      Can I use active dry yeast?

      1. Alex
        January 13, 2021 AT 10:12 am

        Hi! No, active dry yeast/brewers yeast is not the same as nutritional yeast. This recipe really won’t work without it– but you can purchase it online if you’d like.

    10. Kimberly L Brown
      January 11, 2021 AT 8:13 am

      Are you using raw cashews in this recipe?

      1. Alex
        January 11, 2021 AT 8:13 am

        Yes, I use raw cashews in this one.