Going to parties where there is likely going to be a lot of heavy, cheesy dips and appetizers isn’t always easy when you need to avoid dairy, but today I’m sharing my favorite Dairy Free Taco Dip that is always a hit. It’s been known to fool some of the biggest cheese dip lovers I know!
When I first came across a recipe for vegan cheese, I was SUPER skeptical that it would 1. work and 2. taste good. I actually first made it 5 or so years ago, before I had really made a dedicated effort to eat dairy free.
I was simply curious, and also knew that I shouldn’t be eating as much dairy as I was at the time, so I decided to give it a try. I was blown away at how good it tasted and how easy it was to make!
Since then, I’ve modified that original recipe in a throw-back to my childhood where I remember eating this warm taco dip at parties that was, no doubt, based on Velveeta cheese or even cheese whiz (remember that stuff?!?) and taco spiced ground meat.
I took this Dairy Free Taco Dip to a party before Christmas last year, and people loved it! I was trying to keep it on the down-low that it wasn’t actually cheese (thinking that if people knew it wasn’t cheese, they’d think it was something strange and wouldn’t even bother trying it), but the cat got out of the bag and people kept eating it anyway!
That’s when I knew I’d nailed the recipe!
What ingredients are in Dairy Free Taco Dip?
While the ingredient list for this Dairy Free Taco Dip isn’t super short, none of the ingredients require a lot of prepping, so it’s not difficult to make!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Raw cashews
- Unsweetened coconut milk (in the carton, not canned)
- Jarred pimientos
- Nutritional Yeast
- Ground turkey
- Coarse salt
- Granulated Garlic
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Cayenne pepper
- Gluten free tortilla chips and/or vegetables for dipping
What is Nutritional Yeast and what does it do for this Dairy Free Taco Dip?
Nutritional yeast is not as strange as it may sound! Here are the details:
- It’s a form of yeast, but unlike the yeast you’d use to make bread, nutritional yeast isn’t activated so it won’t make your food “rise”.
- You can find nutritional yeast in almost all health food stores or in the health food or specialty food sections of larger grocery stores.
- Nutritional yeast is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, sugar free, nut free, no salt added, wheat free, corn free, vegan, and there are no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- It’s fortified with several B Vitamins (Niacin, Pyridoxine, Riboflavin, Thiamin, Folic Acid and B12, which all help to boost metabolism and promote healthy skin and hair (I’ll take five helpings then please…Ha, Ha) but seriously, I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t want those benefits.
Nutritional yeast is mainly added to foods for its unique flavor that slightly resembles the flavor of cheese and when it combines with the other ingredients in this Dairy Free Taco Dip, well, I think you’ll love the result!
Can I make the Dairy Free Taco Dip ahead?
Yes! You can make the Dairy Free Taco Dip up to 3 days ahead of when you plan to serve it. After you make the dip, store it in an airtight container (preferably not plastic) in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
If the slow cooker bowl or crock that you plan to serve it in is separate from the heating unit, you can store the dip right in the crock.
Then, before you’re ready to serve the dip, transfer it to a small slow cooker or crock set over a heating unit. Use the low-heat setting to warm the dip, stirring it occasionally. Once the dip is hot, lower the heat to the “warm” setting if possible.
Next time you are hosting or heading to a party and need an appetizer that everyone will love, make this Dairy Free Taco Dip! You won’t be disappointed!
Dairy Free Taco Dip
- 1 cup raw cashews (unsalted, unroasted)*
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (in a carton, not canned)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ of a 4-oz jar pimientos, undrained (about 1/4 cup)
- 6 ounces ground turkey** or ground beef
- 1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper***
- ½ cup jarred salsa**
- Gluten free tortilla chips and/or raw vegetable dippers (such as pepper strips, carrot sticks, or jicama sticks)
- In a medium bowl combine cashews and enough very hot water to cover the cashews by about 1 inch. Cover; let stand for 1 hour. Drain cashews in a colander; rinse with cold water. Drain well.
- In a blender combine drained cashews, ¾ cup water, the coconut milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and pimientos. Cover; blend until very smooth, scraping sides of blender as needed. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan cook turkey over medium heat until no longer pink, stirring to break up turkey into small pieces as it cooks. If necessary, drain off fat. Sprinkle turkey with salt, garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper; stir to coat turkey with spices.
- Add pureed cashew mixture and the salsa to saucepan with turkey mixture (mixture will be thin). Cook and stir over medium heat until dip is just boiling. Reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until dip has thickened to a dipping consistency, stirring frequently.
- Transfer dip to a small slow cooker or crock set over a heating unit. Use the “warm” or “low” setting to keep the dip warm for serving. Serve dip with tortilla chips or vegetable dippers. Stir the dip occasionally to prevent a thin crust from forming on the top or keep the lid on to prevent that from happening.
- Serve dip warm with tortilla chips and/or vegetable dippers.