Nothing brings people together like a warm, spicy cheese dip—aka chile con queso, often simply called just queso. It’s everywhere, from the menus of practically every Tex-Mex restaurant in the country to multinational fast-food chains. These days, however, the holy grail of dips taste just as good made from plant-based ingredients. Try making tasty queso at home with Daiya’s latest dairy-, soy- and gluten-free innovation, for this busy time of year and all of its gatherings, where vegans and flexitarians alike come together for game-day watch parties and holiday soirees.
Daiya’s new Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend Shreds combines plant-based Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero, and Queso Quesadilla-style shreds, lending a savory, mild, and creamy flavor to Tex-Mex and Mexican-inspired culinary creations. It turns plant-based queso into ultra-creamy, dip-worthy perfection. This OG plant-based cheese brand, around since 2008, is famous for mastering the art of the melt. Their Cutting Board Collection is made with chickpea protein to give all their vegan shreds, including the new Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend, an ooey-gooey melt and stretch that’ll leave both die-hard dairy fans and plant-based explorers wanting more.
“Innovation lies at the heart of the Daiya brand’s DNA, and our team always strives to offer options with better taste, texture, and recipe use in order to deliver plant-based breakthroughs,” says Dan Hua, VP of marketing at Daiya Foods. Their research and development team worked closely with chefs and registered dietitians, while incorporating ongoing feedback from its customers to perfect this first to market four-cheese blend.
“Cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods, which can be enjoyed on its own or used to elevate just about any fall or holiday recipes calling for ooey-gooey ‘melty’ moments,” adds Hua. That’s why Daiya Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend Shreds work so wonderfully in queso. Now, a little history lesson …
Cheese: The ultimate comfort food
An authentic queso is a symphony of creamy and salty flavors with lingering heat. According to Lisa Fain, creator of The Homesick Texan and author of the cookbook Queso!, the Tex-Mex staple likely originated from Mexico. The earliest references to it in print can be found in the 1816 Mexican novel El Periquillo Sarniento (The Mangy Parrot) by José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi. Fast forward to 1910, and you could find queso on the menu of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.
It wasn’t until the early 1920s, though, that a queso recipe specifically called for American cheese—now the main ingredient of many queso recipes. In the late 1930s, Velveeta was first mentioned as the base for a good queso in a church cookbook. These days, you’ll find blogs offering queso recipes featuring a wide range of cheeses: American, Velveeta, Monterey Jack, asadero, cheddar, even cream cheese.
Queso comes in many forms, but what’s truly important is that it’s spicy, creamy, stretchy, cheesy, and delicious.
It is the time of year for holiday gatherings and cheer. (And what spreads cheer better than cheese? We’ll be waiting right here for the answer.) If you’re looking for that perfect queso recipe, then we’ve got great news for you: the recipe below will have people do a double-take (but hopefully not a double-dip) over the fact that something so deliciously cheesy is actually dairy-free.
For this recipe, we present a choose-your-own-adventure queso bar. Select from three options to suit your guests’ palates: spicy, savory, and sweet—all tried-and-tested by LIVEKINDLY’s food editor. We recommend serving these quesos with a big ol’ bowl of tortilla chips, plus a buffet-bar selection of sweet, savory, and spicy toppings. Now, on to the best plant-based queso recipe you’ll ever make…
Daiya 4 Cheeze Tex-Mex Queso Recipe
- 2 tablespoons of avocado or vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 bags Daiya Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend Shreds
- 2 cups plant-based milk of your choice (oat, cashew, almond, soy, etc.)
- ¼ cup plant-based butter
- 4 jalapeños, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 to 2 jars of salsa, your choice
- 1 small bunch of scallions, thinly-sliced
- 1 can Hatch or chipotle chilis, chopped
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 pomegranate, seeds reserved for use
- 1 cup pepitas
- 1 bag tortilla chips
Place a large saucepan on medium heat and add avocado or vegetable oil.
Add the onion and salt to the pan, sautéing until the onion begins to appear translucent, about three to four minutes.
Add garlic and sauté on medium-low heat for three to four minutes, ensuring garlic is not burned.
When the garlic is fragrant, add Daiya Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend Shreds, plant-based milk, and vegan butter to the saucepan.
Increase heat to high, stirring constantly until shreds have melted and queso is smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Using bowls and serving spoons, prepare your queso buffet toppings bar. Assemble three flavor-profile options for toppings.
For savory eaters, place jalapeños, tomatoes, red onions, and a selection of salsas in separate ramekins.
For spice-lovers, place chopped scallions, canned Hatch or chipotle chilis in adobo, smoked paprika, and cumin in separate ramekins.
For sweet-treaters, place dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, and pepitas in separate ramekins.
Provide a large bowl of fresh tortilla chips for scooping.
Ladle your queso into individual bowls or gratin dishes. Guests can garnish their queso with a selection of buffet-bar toppings. Happy snacking!