Think All Vegan Things Suck? That’s Not The Queso!

It all started innocently enough. Walking past the cooler section at Costco, hoping to spot a big container of peach-mango salsa. (Spoiler: did not find it.) But there it was … Good Foods “Queso-style Dip.”

This. This rocked my world in unexpected ways.

When you live in a home with the lactose-intolerant, you pay attention to any non-dairy cheese-like product.

That’s how it all started.

Jump to Recipe

Now, we’ve often seen product packages labelled with “simple ingredients.” I was also amused by “No artificial anything.” Most are half-true. This one wasn’t. The weirdest things I saw in the ingredients were nutritional yeast, which I had admittedly never heard of before, and chia protein. Everything else is pretty much food I normally have in my kitchen. How can this taste remotely like a cheese dip??

Fast-forward to home … and everyone in the house LOVES this stuff! Sadly, the nearest Costco is about a 4 hour drive (each way) away. So, access is limited. But, today, we have the internet! And copycat recipes are all over the place. So, I went searching, and found one.

I’m not going to lie. I never once in my life thought I’d have ANY reason to visit a site called, “The Happy Gluten-Free Vegan.” But there I was, looking at their recipe.

So I looked at it, looked at the Good Foods ingredient list, and went back-and-forth like that for a bit and said to myself, “They’re missing several things.” The #2 ingredient, red bell peppers, being one of them. Also missing was the red onion, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Okay, so chia protein was missing too, but I left it out too. If you’re into chia, you do you.

So, paper copy of my ‘starter’ recipe in hand, I began the experiment.

They recommended using riced cauliflower. Since I didn’t have any on hand anyway, I picked up a 340g (12oz) bag of the stuff to start with. That works out to a smidge over 2 cups – so I doubled the recipe right off the hop.

Since the cauliflower was of the ‘steam in bag’ microwavable variety, that’s what I did. Two minutes on high, release some steam, and into the freezer to try to cool it a little faster.

While that was going on, I got everything else ready. Chopped up a small red bell pepper into chunks, diced up some red onion, and grabbed all of the spices and such I would need, along with a tablespoon/teaspoon for measuring, and set it out beside the food processor. I’m sure you could get away with a good blender for this too. Maybe. Haven’t tried it though.

At this point, the hard work is done. Dump literally everything into the food processor. It doesn’t matter what order, you’re just going to whizz it into a paste anyway!

Dump everything in the food processor.
WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
Initial blending. Still too thick. I was adjusting the recipe on the fly, so I expected as much, but it was a good starting point.
Once everything was in, let it whizz away on high speed until it stops getting any smoother.

I guess the ACTUAL hard part comes next. Not diving right into it. While it’s pretty good straight after being blended up, it hasn’t achieved peak flavour yet. So do yourself a favour. Put it in a nice air-tight container, stow it in the fridge, and wait until the next day. It’s worth waiting for. Although, ain’t gonna lie, my daughter and I were into it pretty much straight away!

I’ll shut up now and get to the part you came looking for … the recipe.

Good Foods Queso-Style Dip Copycat Recipe

If you've ever blessed your tastebuds with Good Foods gluten-free, non-dairy, vegan, plant-based queso-style dip, and can't get enough of it, it's time to make your own. This will get you pretty darn close to the original, and it's easy to make!
Course: Versatile
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: almond butter, apple cider vinegar, bell pepper, cauliflower, cumin, garlic, gluten-free, lemon juice, non-dairy, nutritional yeast, queso, red onion, turmeric, vegan
Author: Chris Pollard

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Rubber spatula (for scraping out food processor)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Container with lid (for storage)

Ingredients

  • 340 grams riced cauliflower (12oz) Cooked and cooled
  • 1 small red bell pepper seeded and chunked
  • ¼ small red onion diced
  • 8 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper optional
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or 4 cloves fresh garlic

Instructions

The Prep

  • If using a microwavable bag of riced cauliflower, because short cuts are cool, follow the directions on the bag. In my case, it was two minutes on high.
  • Release steam from the bag and carefully place in an ice bath to cool, or stick it in the freezer for a while.
  • If you're using raw cauliflower, cook it any way you want, until it's soft. You want it soft and mushy. We're not aiming for crisp veggie texture here, we want it soft and smooth. Cool after cooking. If using florets, probably a good idea to measure it by weight.
  • Take your red bell pepper, remove the seeds and stem, and cut the rest into ¾ to 1 inch chunks.
  • Dice up about ¼ to ½ of a small red onion. I went with ¼ so it wouldn't be overpowering, but ½ would probably be fine too.
  • If your almond butter has separated in the jar, stir it up until it resembles a smooth paste again. I used an 'all-natural' type that separated pretty seriously.

Put it all together!

  • In no particular order, dump everything into the food processor, making sure you have the chopping/mixing (aka 'S' blade) in there first. I started with the cauliflower and layered everything else on top.
  • Give the FP a few pulses to start blending it all together. Probably unnecessary, but it's how I roll.
  • Start on low speed until you see everything starting to come together. Then power it up to high speed for a minute or so.
  • Pop the top off the food processor, take a look at the consistency, and scrape down the sides if need be. It's also a good time to sneak a little taste, and adjust your seasonings if necessary. My first time around I went with one pinch of salt and found it wasn't enough, so I added a second pinch of salt here. Yes, I probably shouldn't measure things in pinches for recipes … I'd say my pinch is about a teaspoon.
  • Put the lid back on and continue on high speed for another 1-2 minutes, until everything becomes homogenous and almost like a puree.
  • Take a little taste, adjust any seasonings you want to, IF you want to.
  • If it's not smooth enough for you yet, continue on high speed. If it seems too thick, add a little more apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
  • When satisfied with the flavour and consistency, scrape your amazing new dip into a container and refrigerate overnight. Or just start dipping. I won't judge.

Notes

If you like it a little spicy, kick the cayenne pepper up to a half teaspoon. That gives it a nice heat without making it too fiery.  
I may also try it in the future with a jalapeno pepper instead of the cayenne powder. It would bring a milder heat to it, but may affect the overall flavour as well. 
Also filed under possible future experiments are using this for nachos – although it wouldn’t really get gooey like cheese does – and as a sauce for mac and cheese. Seems like that could be really tasty!

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