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This Vegan Nacho Cheese is made from healthy plant-based ingredients yet satisfies any cheesy comfort food craving! Have this oil-free, gluten-free vegan cheese ready in just 30 minutes and serve with your favorite tacos, burritos, nachos, tortilla chips and more.
If you’re looking for a creamy vegan cheese sauce loaded with veggies, this recipe is for you. The consistency and flavor are spot on to a traditional cheese sauce but are entirely dairy-free. It also takes less than 30 minutes to make and requires no fancy ingredients. To top it all off, this recipe is naturally gluten-free!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Potatoes: We like to use Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe, but russets would work well. Make sure to wash and peel your potatoes before boiling them!
- Carrots: Not only will carrots add additional nutrients and flavor, but they will help add a nice golden and “cheesy” color to the sauce.
- Cashews: This will help our sauce get nice and creamy. The cashew nut provides a fatty element that enriches the nacho cheese. For optimal creaminess, it’s essential to soak your cashews, so they blend smoothly. If you’re short on time, you can soak them in boiling water for just 10 minutes. It’s also essential to use raw cashews for this recipe instead of roasted.
- Almond Milk: Make sure to use unsweetened milk for this recipe. Any unsweetened plain variety will work if you prefer not to use almond milk or have another type of plant milk on hand.
- Jalapeños: We like to add pickled jalapeños and a little bit of the juice to our sauce to give it a pop of heat. We don’t recommend adding raw jalapeños. However, substituting them with green chiles would also work.
- Lemon Juice: The flavor will be much more balanced by adding an acidic element like lemon juice. You can also add lime juice or vinegar to the sauce instead.
- Spices: The spices for our sauce are simple. Garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper are all we add. If you want to add some additional heat, you can also add smoked paprika and chili powder.
- Nutritional Yeast: This will help add a more cheese-like flavor to our sauce. Additionally, nutritional yeast is packed with B vitamins and protein.
How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese
- Boil the potatoes, carrots, and cashews. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, then add in the potatoes, carrots, and cashews. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Drain and place in a high speed blender.
- Blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients into the blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Adjust seasonings to taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and juice from the jar of jalapenos as desired.
What is Nacho Cheese Good On?
The possibilities for serving this vegan nacho cheese sauce are endless. Here are a few of our favorite ideas, but don’t limit yourself to just these! This cheese is truly meant to be drizzled on anything and everything.
- Tacos: Drizzle it on vegan tacos like our Walnut Taco Meat, Lentil Taco Meat, Vegan Carne Asada, and Sheet Pan Tofu Taco Meat.
- Burritos: There’s nothing more satisfying than loading up a burrito with all the fixings and drizzling over this nacho cheese sauce. Try it in our Vegan Breakfast Burritos or our Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme.
- Nachos: If you ask us, nachos are appropriate any time of day. Pour this vegan nacho cheese over our Loaded Vegan Nachos, Breakfast Tater Tot Nachos, or Vegan Breakfast Nachos with Tofu Scramble.
- Loaded fries: Did someone say chili cheese fries? Give it a try with our Crispy Noochy Potatoes, 5-Ingredient Vegan Chili, Homemade Guacamole and this vegan nacho cheese.
- Dipping: This cheese sauce makes an excellent dip for veggies, crackers, homemade tortilla chips and more.
- Pizza: This may sound strange, but the taste will be epic if the toppings complement the sauce. Our Vegan Taco Pizza is the best example!
- Enchiladas: Drizzle it on top of or layered inside our Vegan Enchilada Casserole.
Need Vegan Nacho Inspiration?
There are many ways to top nachos, so if you aren’t sure how you want to make yours, here are some topping ideas.
- Plant-based meat: You can use Beyond Meat or Impossible grounds, but we have our lentil walnut taco meat that we think is stellar to use.
- Salsa: We like to use pico de gallo, but any mild, medium or spicy salsa will be a great addition to your nachos.
- Veggies: Lettuce, tomato, onions, black olives, and jalapeños are perfect toppings.
- Beans: Black beans, pinto beans, refried beans, white beans, you can’t go wrong.
- Chips: Traditionally, you use corn tortilla chips for nachos, but you can also use blue corn tortilla chips or tater tots or french fries.
- Cheese: Of course, we recommend this nacho cheese sauce, but you can use other vegan cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, or Colb Jack-style shreds.
- Sour Cream: Our favorite dairy-free sour cream to use is either Tofutti or Follow Your Heart. If you want to drizzle your sour cream on top of the nachos, we recommend loosening it up with water beforehand.
- Avocado or Guacamole: Guac doesn’t cost extra when you use our simple recipe.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
This vegan nacho cheese will last for up to 7 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen and stored for up to 3 months.
To freeze, allow the vegan nacho cheese to cool completely at room temperature. Once cool, transfer to a freezer safe jar like a mason jar or a freezer safe bag, such as a reusable Stasher Bag. If freezing in a glass jar, make sure to keep the nacho cheese below the freeze line to prevent the glass from cracking. When ready to use, transfer the nacho cheese to the refrigerator to thaw completely (about 24-48 hours).
Reheat leftover nacho cheese in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through.
Tips for Success
- Cook the potatoes until just fork tender. If they are overcooked, they will become grainy and will make your cheese slightly grainy.
- Don’t overblend! If you’ve over mashed homemade mashed potatoes, you’ll know that doing so makes them gluey and unfavorable in texture. The same thing will happen if you overblend this potato based nacho cheese. For best results, blend until just smooth.
- Taste your plant milk before using! Recently a few brands have been making “unsweetened” non dairy milks that are made with sweet, perfume-like preservatives that add an unnatural sweetness to the milk. If you’re using store-bought milk, smell and taste the non-dairy milk before adding it to the cheese. It needs to be completely neutral in taste in order to work in this recipe. When in doubt, try our homemade almond milk without the optional sweet ingredients.
More Homemade Vegan Cheese Sauces You May Enjoy:
- Vegan Chipotle Cheddar Cheese Sauce
- 6-Ingredient Cashew Mustard Cheese Dip
- The Best Vegan Cheese (Cashew-Free)
- Vegan Cheese Fondue
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