Shelli McConnell graduated with a bachelor of science in consumer food science and a minor in journalism from Iowa State University. She began her career as a home economist in the Better Homes & Gardens test kitchen before moving into an editorial position within DotDash Meredith. She has since freelanced for 25 years and has served as an editorial project manager for many books and magazines, including three editions of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. She has also developed thousands of recipes for publications including Forks Over Knives magazine; Eat This, Not That!; Diabetic Living; Better Homes & Gardens; The Magnolia Journal; and more. McConnell loves to entertain and inspire, so when she’s not in her office, she’s usually in her kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn.see more from this author
I’ve been making this recipe for a long time and it never lets me down. Today I did a slight variation with was just a great. I had some hot cherry peppers and used those instead of the red peppers and it was still great. And a great use for something that has been sitting in my refrigerator. I got the hot ones by mistake, I usually get the sweet ones so this was a great way to use something that otherwise would go to waste.
I have tried a lot of vegan cheese sauces–and thrown away several. Shelli, yours is the very best. I never need to try another one. And this one was so very easy. Thank you so, so much. I think I can do the WFPB thing now more successfully.
Mary T. and others saying this is amazing, I agree with you 100%…search no more.
My hunt for the perfect plant-based cheese sauce has ended. This is it!
This is my favorite queso. It goes together beautifully in my vitamix blender. I only make half a recipe as it makes quite a bit. The closest sauce to cheese. I made homemade Mac and cheese with it. My husband who will not eat plant based things didn’t even know!
Tasty but very sticky. Hard to clean Blender. Will use less cornstarch next time.
What I do is put hot soapy water in the blender and put on high and it cleans it. Hope that helps.
Been making a slightly different version of this for several months now and it’s great! Better than any store bought cheese dip out there. Especially for pretzels, chips, or bean and cheese burritos!
And your slightly different version is… I would be interested to know. Thank You
Good recipe. Makes A LOT of queso. Try half a recipe for two or three. Served with FOK Air Fryer Taquitos recipe. Came out pretty thick so next time I’ll cut the cornstarch down. Had leftover taquitos the next day and the sauce was even better reheated with a little water. FOK, please post Nutritional info with recipes. Thanks
Can use yellow bell peppers (roast them yourself) and turmeric
Delicious! Thank you!
SUPER DUPER EASY TO AIR FRY YOUR OWN BELL PEPPERS
I *HATE* when people say something is easy but it’s really time consuming. This is NOT!
And you get no oil, waste no bottle, and save lots of expense — so expensive for just a piece of fruit! (Yes, a nonsweet fruit — like tomato, zucchinni, okra.)
Click this link to see a couple photos and a short video of me slipping the skin off the bell pepper after it’s roasted.
If you can (1) slice off the shoulders (the top 1/4 inch or so) of the bell pepper, (2) reach in and twist out the core, (3) bang the decapitated bell pepper on the counter to knock the seeds out, and (4) place it in the air fryer cut side down and hit Start (400 degrees, 17 minutes or more), you’ll have gorgeously roasted bell peppers while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Easy-peasy! (I used to try this in an oven and drove myself MAD trying to tweezer off all the little pieces of skin that stuck … Grrrr!)
Awesome tip, Laurie! Thank you for these directions!
SUPER SUPER EASY TO ROAST YOUR OWN BELL PEPPERS IN AN AIR FRYER – I skip the expense, the bottle, and the oil that roasted bell peppers are often packed in.
I *HATE* when people say “super easy” but then it’s really not. THIS IS. Take a look at this post, where I show several photos and a short video of how to roast them. Literally if you can slice the top off, twist the core out, and place them in an air fryer and hit START, you’re 75% done.
Then, if you’ve roasted them long enough, it takes another 30 seconds to slip the skins off. Which I show in the video. (Years ago I tried roasting bell peppers in my oven and drove myself crazy trying for 30 minutes with a tweezers to get all the stuck bits of skin off.)
Substitution for nutritional yeast? My body treats it like MSG.
Very good! First time I made this. Made per the recipe except that I used only 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco brand pepper sauce, and this was plenty of sauce for me. Dipped white corn tortilla chips and couldn’t quite eating. Will try on steamed Broccoli and other vegies. Will definitely make this again and will try it out on my non-Whole Food plant-based family.
Jill’s Game Changer Cheese Sauce !
MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF‼️SKIP ⏭️ THE BLENDER‼️ BUY OAT FLOUR‼️THANK YOU‼️
Then house would you measure the oat flour compared to while oats?
Are the roasted red peppers in oil?
Definitely want to check the ingredients if buying a jar of roasted red peppers. I find most of them packed in oil but there are some (usually store generic brand or Trader Joe’s) that are packed in water. They are out there. However, it is very easy to roast your own ahead of time. See other comments on this thread for making in the air fryer. Oven if you don’t have an air fryer.
Nope! FOK advocates for a whole food plant based diet, and oil isn’t a whole food… it’s basically just the empty, highly caloric remains left behind after all the nutrients and fiber are processed out of a food. It takes some getting used to eliminating it, but well worth the benefits!
I made this first without changing recipe. Not so good and pretty runny…until I put it in a pot on the stove and heated up to thicken with another almost 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1-1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp taco seasoning and a pinch of tumeric powder… delish!
Great idea to heat on stove, especially if you don’t have a high speed Vitamix or similar blender. I find with the Vitamix, you won’t have to use the stove if you let it blend long enough to get it really hot. You will actually hear the sound of the speed change once the sauce is thickening. It can take several minutes to reach this point, but saves dishes and stove top time. Sauce will be extremely hot so be careful when you open it.
is this freezer friendly?
Made this and then added some of my home made salsa making it a fabulous queso! Served it to my carnivorous friend (with store made tortilla chips as he won’t eat my oil free baked chips) without telling him it was vegan. He would have turned up his nose if I had. He loved it. After he had gobbled down quite a few chips, I told him the queso dip would not hurt his heart as it was vegan. He was shocked. I then encouraged him to try one of my baked corn chips which he did. Shook his head and said no, not good. Grabbed some more store bought tortilla chips and continued chowing down this dip. Baby steps.
It’s dangerous to trick a meat eater,especially if you don’t know their allergies.
Can arrowroot be subbed for cornstarch?
You can substitute equal amounts, arrowroot for cornstarch in any recipe that uses cornstarch.
Holy Cow this is good! I think I cried a little. My husband said, “Wait. This isn’t real cheese??” One question, mine didn’t thicken very much. Is there a way to thicken to dip consistency?
If you don’t have a high speed blender where friction cooks it, I’d recommend cooking it briefly in a pan until it does thicken.
I would try adding a little more cornstarch and see if that works.
Fingers crossed! I’m going to make this this weekend and I’ll let you know how mine turns out.
I made this queso tonight and had friends over who aren’t plant based. They loved it as much as I did.
Mine sure did thicken. Are you using a high-speed blender and blending it for 5 minutes? My blender (Ninja) turns itself off after a little bit; I have to set a timer for 5 minutes and turn the blender back on when it goes off. This sauce is highly approved by my picky husband.
Holy cow, outstanding! No peeling potatoes and carrots and no expensive cashews but a superior taste to every other vegan queso I’ve ever had. I only used 1/2 tsp of the hot sauce because I figured I could add more if needed when done but like other people, I added a few slices (and a smidge of brine) from jarred jalapenos.
Amazing! So happy to have a “cheese” sauce that is compliant with a whole food plant based diet AND taste fantastic!
Thank you FOK!
I was fully expecting this to be ‘meh’, but I just made this and can’t stop eating it by the spoonful right out of the blender and saying “NO WAY!” To me, it tastes just like any spicy queso I’ve had at restaurants. I’m so excited to have the hubby try it when he gets home. I only used 1 teaspoon of tabasco for the hot sauce and it’s pretty spicy. Love it!
Is it safe to add boiling water to a blender?
It is as long as you are careful. Very careful as you would be when working with boiling water in other instances. Also, be sure the lid is on tightly. I can totally see someone getting hurt if he or she wasn’t paying attention.
I wondered that myself, but it seemed to go OK since I was adding it to other ingredients that were already cool.
I am a former vegetarian/vegan and have never tried vegan queso before. I have nothing else to compare it to so it wasn’t bad! I look forward to incorporating more plants into my families’ meals.
This is definitely a keeper! Far superior to the MANY cashew based versions of queso I’ve tried. I read all the reviews first, and added a little garlic and few sliced jalapeños with their brine. The result was very much like a nacho sauce, which totally works for me! Can’t wait to try this over veggies and potatoes!
Great recipe! Did not have roasted red peppers so added little extra hot water and red peppers. After blended put in 1 Cup silken tofu and 2 tes. taco seasoning and blended till smooth. It was great on our taco’s and Enchilada’s.
Would it work without the nutritional yeast?
Not if you want the cheesy flavor
This is amazing. I added some chopped jalapeños for additional spice and texture and it is delicious! I am so excited to have a true replacement for queso in my diet!
Choose what does agree with you and use the same way as oatmeal!- worth a try! Just being adventurous is how we discover new things we love!
Anyone have a good substitute for oatmeal? I’m allergic
You can add a boiled potato, plus 1 small boiled onion, and 1 small boiled carrot. Comes out really good too. You probably would not need the cornstarch though.
My high speed blender will heat the sauce if blending for 5 minutes, so is it necessary to boil the water?
No it’s not. This is basically “Jill’s game changer cheese sauce” which I have been making for years in my Vitamix. I even use frozen roasted red peppers (homemade), and the cheese sauce is smoking hot after 5 minutes.
You can try blending all ingredients together until a smooth texture than heat the sauce on the stove top to thicken it. That’s how I do it with another recipe.
This is really good. The closes to cheese I’ve found. I can’t stop dipping celery sticks in it.
Good recipe and a staple in my house now on Mexican food nights. A lighter cheese sauce option than the cashew varieties so we eat this up guilt free. I’ve made this several times with adjustments after the first time. I found the amount of red pepper to be far too much as listed in the recipe for my taste. Now I do a large piece or two only, not the whole jar. I also add some Mexican spices to taste- cumin, chili pepper and a dash of turmeric for color. A few Jarred jalepenos are also fabulous in this with a tablespoon or so of the brine thrown in as well.
Where do you find a 7 oz jar of roasted red peppers?
OOPS! I followed the recipe, but added a jar of peppers that turned out to be 12 oz. instead of 7 oz. A little more “liquidy” I guess, but still very tasty. I will put it on my black bean burger and then save some for rice, veggies, whatever. Very nice recipe. I did use WAY less Frank’s Hot Sauce, but I’m a delicate little flower (haha).
Did everything asked for but items are NOT getting thick. What can I do? I thought about adding more corn startch?? It tastes great but very runny.
It took me a while but eventually it will get thick. I was amazed at how it all came together!
High-speed blender plus boiling water should generate enough heat to cook and thicken the sauce. If your sauce is thin, try cooking it in a saucepan after blending, like white sauce: moderate heat, constant stirring.
I’ve been making a recipe very similar to this. I’ve had the “hard core” non vegan people swear that there was milk or cheese in this until I gave them the recipe and the made it. Great stuff!!!
Can you send me your recipe . I’m having trouble finding one that my family will like .
[email protected]. Thanks
Usually they’re packed in water
Can someone tell me what the roasted red peppers are packed in? Here in Australia they are usually packed in oil. The recipe says don’t drain red peppers which would make for a very high oil recipe
I buy them in water from Woolworths or Coles. Don’t get them at the deli counter – everything is always in oil there – get a jar off the shelves in the vegetable sections
Maybe you would find them as pimentos.
I buy them packed in water.
This stuff is absolutely amazing! I’ve made pant-based queso sauce before with raw cashews and although it was good, it wasn’t nearly as good as this – plus the cashews are much more caloric than rolled oats. It truly tastes like you just melted a block of cheese. My only question is how you came up with the color shown. Mine was a much darker color, almost like an orange red. Of course that was due to the roasted red peppers. Not sure how your color came out the way it did unless you used roasted orange peppers. Just curious. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
What can the red pepper be substituted for?
By far my favourite vegan cheese like sauce, and my second favourite has 3/4 cup cashews per similar quantity, so happy to find a low fat version for more regular use. Kids loved it too, including one who hates peppers in any other form than raw.
I just made this and was amazed at how good it is. Am going to have it on a large potato with sauted onions, mushrooms, red pepper stripes and steamed broccoli. I am so looking forward to supper tonight. I made it with only 1 cup water as I make way too much for 1 person.
Is the recipe missing a comma between 1 and 7, or is it a 17oz jar of roasted red peppers?
It’s one 7 ounce jar.
Recipe calls for one 7 ounce jar of roasted red peppers…
If you can get some Canadian measuring tools they generally have both measurements. We switched to metric while I was in school (long ago). And I use both. Does that make me bilingual?? Also if I need to convert ounces to ml as for canned goods I just ask Siri and she tells me. Canned goods are similarly sized enough that it doesn’t matter. But in all fairness a big company like FOK should be providing both to a world wide audience IMOP.