My recipe of the week was a special request from a client that considers himself to be a “queso-holic”.  With football season around the corner, I wanted to set him up with a healthy alternative to the junk that’s been sitting on the shelves since last season.  Vegan queso recipes have been popping up everywhere recently, so I felt it necessary to try my take on it.

The brown rice tortilla chips are something I make on a regular basis for all kinds of dips and snacks. They are made simply by seasoning then broiling (or baking) whole brown rice tortillas, which are commonly found at most grocery stores.  This option is a much more responsible replacement for fried corn chips.

Is it going to taste exactly like queso?  Obviously not, but it certainly should satisfy the craving.  The nutritional yeast provides the necessary cheesey flavor but the sambal/red pepper sauce is what truly brings the flavors together.  If you are sensitive to heat, you can omit the sambal, but I strongly suggest keeping the jalapeno.  If you don’t like spicy, remove the pith (white part) and seeds of the jalapeno, but don’t skip them altogether.  The peppers add an element of flavor (not necessarily heat) that will genuinely compromise the flavor of the dip if left out.

Lastly, you can omit the tapioca flour, if desired, but it disables the queso from having the elastic consistency that it traditionally possesses.

serving size: 2 cups
total time: 20 mins



  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon sambal (or spicy red pepper sauce of choice), plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 2 brown rice tortillas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
  • liberal pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
Turn broiler on high and move the rack to the middle row.  Place the tortillas on the rack directly for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove the tortilla from the oven and flip over to the other side. Coat the tortilla with lime juice and sprinkle salt liberally onto the surface. Place the tortilla in for another 2-3 minutes. When the tortilla is golden brown, remove it and season with lime zest.  Set aside to cool.

Start a small saucepan of water over medium heat, then add cashews, and allow to boil for 10 minutes. Combine tapioca flour, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and turmeric in a food processor of choice.  Finely dice the jalapenos and parsley/cilantro and set them aside.  Once the cashews have completely cooked to a softened consistency, strain them and add them to the food processor with a cup of filtered water and blend on high for 1-2 minutes.  The consistency will be liquid but it will thicken while cooking.  Place the liquid into the saucepan over medium heat and stir as the liquid thickens.  Add in jalapenos and continue to stir for 5 minutes.  A cheesey elasticity should be reached, at which point the sambal can be added. Stir for another minute before serving.*

Once the tortillas have cooled, break them into large pieces with your hands and serve with queso dip.

*If the consistency becomes too thick, add a touch of water.


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