This vegan nacho cheese is rich, creamy and delicious. Elevate your vegan nachos to the next level. Made in a blender with just a few simple ingredients like raw cashews, nutritional yeast, seasonings and more. Easy to whip together in under 15 minutes!
It's never been easier to make vegan nacho cheese! The world of vegan cuisine is improving by the minute and vegan cheese has never tasted better.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- You only need a blender and a sauce pan for this easy recipe.
- It's vegan, gluten free, easy and healthy. Unlike "real cheese" (cow cheese) this vegan nacho cheese has zero cholesterol.
- Satisfies your cheese cravings.
- Great appetizer for a potluck party or game day that your guests will love.
- This vegan queso tastes like the real thing and will remind you of the queso that you'd find at movie theaters or ball games, but it's filled with only natural ingredients.
🧂 Ingredients & Substitutions
This dairy free, vegan cashew nacho cheese sauce is full of wholesome ingredients that are easy to find in most grocery stores.
- Raw cashews - This is the key ingredient for the vegan nacho cheese sauce. This gives the cheese a nice fatty content and helps to thicken it up as well. Just boil some hot water and let the cashews soften in the water for at least 10 minutes to make it easier on your blender. You can also use raw almonds.
- Small potato & carrot - These also make up the base of the cheese sauce. The carrot and potato help to thicken it, give it a creamy texture and the carrot adds some beta carotene.
- Nutritional yeast - This gives an amazing cheesy flavor. It's also full of vitamin B12 if it's been fortified.
- Pickled Jalapeño slices & brine - The pickled jalapeño peppers will give the sauce that nice nacho cheese flavor with a touch of jalapeños. You can also use canned green chiles for a bold flavor. Leave out the jalapaños if you don't like spicy food, but make sure to still use the brine.
- Lemon juice - The citric acid in lemons helps to balance out the flavors. You can also use lime juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Seasonings - I use garlic powder and onion powder. If you want a more vibrant bright orange color, add in ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric powder.
- Salsa - At the very end, to add some texture, I love adding a spoonful or two of salsa. This adds a nice different flavor to the mix.
- Salt - Sea salt, or whatever salt you have on hand works great.
👩🍳 Helpful tips
If you want to add a little texture and more flavor, I love stirring in a couple tablespoons of chunky salsa at this point.
If you want an even stretchier cheese, add ½ teaspoon of tapioca starch or arrowroot flour to the blender with all of the ingredients. Then warm it all up on the stove on medium-low heat to activate the starch.
If you want to add more heat to this vegan nacho cheese recipe, add some cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or hot chili powder.
Step one: Peel and roughly chop the potatoes and carrots to about the same size so they cook about the same time. Add to a pot with a lid and cover with water. Add in the raw cashews and boil until the vegetables are soft.
Step two: Strain the water and add the veggies and cashews to a high speed blender like a vitamix blender. Add in the remaining ingredients, minus the salsa and blend until smooth.
Step three: To thicken up the vegan nacho cheese dip, add to a sauce pan on the stove. Set to medium low and stir constantly until it thickens.
Step four: For extra flavor and texture, add in a few spoonfuls of salsa and stir well.
❄️ Storing & reheating
Fridge - This vegan nacho cheese keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for about a five days.
Reheating - Heat it in a microwave and place a paper towel over the queso so it doesn't make a mess.
You can also reheat it in a saucepan on the stove on medium-low heat. Add a splash of water if it thickened too much. Stir often.
🥦 Serving suggestions
This can be used like any nacho cheese.
- Put it on top of tortilla chips, corn chips, loaded vegan nachos or tempeh tacos. I love putting red onions, hot sauce, red bell peppers, black beans, lettuce and salsa on my nachos.
- Put it on top burritos or vegan burrito bowls or a no foil crispy baked potato.
- Use it as a cheesy dip, like a chip dip
- Put it on a vegan hot dog with some vegan instant pot chili for a chili cheese dog.
- Sauté up some plant-based meat and add it into the cheesy dip for extra flavor.
❓ Recipe FAQs
I love buying raw cashews in the bulk section of my grocery store. Most natural food stores have them, as well as Whole Foods.
If you can't find them near you, then you can order cashews in bulk online. Buying in bulk is the most cost effective.
Make sure to buy sustainably and ethically sourced cashews, as they sometimes use poorly paid workers from poorer countries who work in terrible conditions. Here is a great ethically sourced brand of cashew.
If you're allergic to nuts, but seeds don't bother you, use raw sunflower seeds. Soak them in hot water just like you would to soften the cashews. You can also use ½ cup of white beans like great northern beans.
This can be frozen in a freezer friendly bag or container for 3 months. Make sure it's sealed tightly. Just thaw out in the fridge before using, then warm up slowly on the stove, stirring the whole time.
More vegan cheese recipes
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The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce (Dairy Free Queso)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 small potato
- 1 carrot
- 6 pickled jalapeno slices
- 3 tablespoons pickled jalapeno brine
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons salsa (optional. Add this in the end and don't add this to the blender)
- Peel and roughly chop potatoes and carrots. Place carrots, potatoes and raw cashews into a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes and carrots are tender. About 8-10 minutes.1 cup raw cashews, 1 small potato, 1 carrot
- Drain the water from the sauce pan and add the potatoes, carrots and cashews to a blender as well as all the ingredients, MINUS THE SALSA, above. Blend on high until well combined. Add a splash of water or two if it's too thick.1 cup raw cashews, 1 small potato, 1 carrot, 6 pickled jalapeno slices, 3 tablespoons pickled jalapeno brine, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ⅓ cup nutritional yeast, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 cups water
Warm up on the stove
- Transfer the cheese sauce to a sauce pan and heat on low until sauce thickens, stirring the whole time. Stir in a couple spoonfuls of salsa if you'd like. Taste, and add salt if needed.3 tablespoons salsa
- Serve over tortilla chips and top with your favorite nacho toppings.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.