September 19, 2014

Vegan Chili Cheese Dip

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 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. Thursday afternoon is usually when I get the text from BL asking, as sweetly as possible, what food I have lined up for the weekend. Even though it’s usually only him watching the game on our small living room TV, I need to prepare at least one appetizer and one heavier meal. Bonus points for drinks and/or dessert.

Process shots showing the making of the chili cheese dip

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 cheese sauce, we start with a base of blended cashews, peppers, and nutritional yeast. If you haven’t had a cashew-base sauce before, let me first assure you that a.) it will not taste like cashews and b.) the results are mind-blowing.

We then make a quick chili base by simmering canned black beans, fresh salsa, and a little onion. If you crave more heat, add in a few jalapeños. Stir in the cheese sauce and you are done. Just be prepared for the temptation of wanting to pour this sauce on just about everything you can get your hands on… chips, bowls of chili, veggie burgers.   No judgement for wanting to convert this into a cheesy chili soup and indulge with only a spoon.

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.

Dipping nachos into the 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! 

Watch how to make it here:

Print
OMG. The BEST chili cheese dip that just happens to be gluten-free and vegan! A must make for football games!

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

Description

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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 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 used the fresh homestyle salsa container from Trader Joe’s. Jarred salsa won’t work the same way)

Optional garnishes: cilantro, sliced green onions.

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
  2. Place the cashews, orange bell pepper, milk, chili powder, and 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 minced onion, taco seasoning, black beans and fresh salsa over medium heat. Stir constantly until heated through, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add in the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Season to taste with salt/pepper if needed.
  6. Garnish as desired and serve.

Notes

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, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

157 comments
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    1. 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.

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

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

    3. 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. https://amzn.to/3oGvZp9

    4. 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.

    5. Mallory
      January 1, 2021 AT 4:07 pm

      Made this recipe for a New Years Eve party. Everyone LOVED this!! It was seriously so good and nobody would have guessed it didn’t have cheese. A few asked for the recipe and we couldn’t wait to eat the leftovers. I served it with baked tortilla chips as well as homemade fries.

      1. Alex
        January 1, 2021 AT 7:15 pm

        ohhh LOVE the idea of pairing with homemade fries!

    6. Ashley
      December 31, 2020 AT 6:25 pm

      This is my first time attempting any dairy free dip. My kids, husband and I approve. The kids ate it up and loved it. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I also added hamburger to mine.

    7. Chelsea Seck
      July 23, 2019 AT 10:41 am

      Quick question…I have a ninja blender would that work? I really want to try this for a birthday party soon but I’m worried it won’t work…has anyone tried this with a Ninja blender?

      1. Alex
        July 24, 2019 AT 6:52 am

        I don’t have a ninja blender so can’t say- but the trick is soaking the cashews ahead of time so they are very, very soft. Let them soak for at least 12 hours and it shouldn’t be a problem!

    8. Tamara
      July 16, 2019 AT 4:27 pm

      This recipe never disappoints!

    9. Amy
      February 14, 2019 AT 5:18 pm

      Wow this looks amazing! I cannot believe it is that creamy without any dairy! Great job! Thank you for this recipe!

      1. Alex
        February 15, 2019 AT 7:13 am

        So glad you liked it! Thanks Amy!

    10. Alyssa
      December 31, 2018 AT 5:29 pm

      I have made this recipe a million times, for vegans and non-vegans alike. At the last Christmas party I went to, this was next to the normal queso and was eaten ten times more quickly. People RAVE about it and I’ve given the recipe to at least five people. No one can believe it’s vegan! Thank you so much for this recipe!
      My only tip is to make sure to add salt!