This vegan nacho cheese sauce is going to blow your mind. Perfect texture, spot on flavor and you’ll have no idea that it’s filled with hidden veggies!
It’s amazing what veggies can do. There is nothing that pleases me more than turning unhealthy indulgences into healthy treats. This nacho cheese recipe is one of my favorite creations to date!
Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
After spending years, creating my original vegan cheese sauce, which is a HUGE reader favorite, I quickly started adding more vegan cheese recipes to my list. My sharp white cheese sauce followed next, then came my vegan white queso and I even made a vegan cheese ball!
The key to my vegan cheese creations is whole foods. Also, I don’t use nutritional yeast. I know, I’m a lone duck in the vegan department with that one, but I just don’t think it tastes like cheese!
What is vegan nacho cheese made of?
So if I’m using whole foods, how do I do it? First, a lot of trial and error. But the base of this vegan nacho cheese required a few key ingredients:
- Potatoes- adds creaminess and cheesy texture.
- Carrots, onion, red pepper, garlic- adds wholesome veggies to the sauce and contributes to the end flavor.
- Pickled jalapeno nacho slices and their juice- this helps give tang and that signature nacho cheese flavor.
- Cashews- key for creaminess, if you are allergic to nuts you can leave them out but know the creaminess won’t be as good. I have heard others using extra potato, cauliflower, white beans or sunflower seeds as well, but I still like cashews best.
- Veggie cooking water and dairy free milk- to thin out the sauce and give a creamy base.
Why is nacho cheese called nacho cheese?
The first nachos were created for a group of hungry military wives by a man named Ignacio Anaya. He fried tortilla chips and served them topped with cheddar cheese and jalapeño slices. His nickname was nacho, so that is what he called his new appetizer.
Nacho cheese itself really has no definition. The recipe changes depending on who makes it, and can be anything that people like. However originally it was simply an orange cheddar type cheese with jalapeños.
Can you make vegan nacho cheese ahead of time?
Absolutely! In fact the flavor gets better with time, so making it in advance is great. Once you make it, allow it to cool completely at room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
How do you store vegan nacho cheese?
If you are making it ahead of time, you should store it in the fridge in an airtight container. If you are serving it that day, you can either put it in a crockpot on low to keep it warm, or in a pot on the stove over low heat. You’ll need to mix it from time to time so it doesn’t form a skin type layer.
How do you reheat vegan nacho cheese?
After you refrigerate the nacho cheese, it will become thicker. Almost like a thick Greek yogurt consistency. When you are ready to serve, simply warm it slowly in the microwave or in a pot over low heat, mixing consistently. It will slowly thin out and become a nacho cheese sauce again.
How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
This vegan cheese is super easy to make! I have two options, with the fastest being using an Instapot (thanks to a reader who used it for my original cheese sauce).
- Cook the veggies and cashews using an Instant Pot, or a pot on the stove.
- Blend all of the ingredients together.
- Serve piping hot with anything and everything!
How to spice up your vegan nacho cheese
This recipe is super easy to customize to the spice level of choice! You can use mild or spicy jalapeño slices, and you can add less or more chipotle, cayenne or chili powder.
What do I serve with this vegan nacho cheese?
There are so many things you can do with this nacho cheese! It’s so versatile and delicious with just about anything. Here are some of our favorite ways to use it:
- Vegan nachos
- Grilled burritos
- Build your own Mexican taco bowls
- Carnitas bowls
- Mexican pizza
- Mexican nacho burgers
- Over french fries
You can also serve it alongside other great things for a build your own snack type meal. Here are some of our favorite things to serve it with:
This vegan nacho cheese is going to blow your mind. Perfect texture, spot on flavor and you'll have no idea that it's filled with hidden veggies!
- 1 cup cooked potato , see note for precooked amount
- ¼ cup cooked white or yellow onion , see note for precooked amount
- ¼ cup cooked carrots , see note for precooked amount
- 3 tablespoons cooked red pepper , see note for precooked amount
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- ¾ cup cashews , see note
- ¼ - ½ cup liquid reserved from cooking the veggies , adjust for the thickness you want (can also use veggie broth)
- ½ - ¾ cup unsweetened plain cashew or almond milk , adjust for the thickness you want
- ½ - ¾ cup nacho jalapeno slices , adjust for the flavor you like (mild if you don’t want this spicy)
- ¼ cup juice from the nacho jalapeno slices
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon chili powder, chipotle powder or cayenne pepper (to add spice and extra flavor)
If you have an Instant Pot, put the raw potato, onion, carrots, red pepper garlic and cashews inside with 2 cups water. Cook on manual high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow the steam to release.
- You can also put it all in a pot over the stove and cook covered for about 20 – 25 minutes.
- When done, put the garlic and cashews into a blender.
- Measure/weigh out the potato, onion, carrots and red pepper that is needed and put them in the blender.
Add the rest of the ingredients, including the ½ cup reserved liquid from cooking the veggies, and blend on high until creamy and smooth.
It thickens as it cools, and gets nice and thick in the fridge. It will thin out a bit once you warm it up again. You can put it in a pot and warm it up on the stove right after you make it to thicken it as well.
- Since you are cooking the cashews with the veggies, there is no need to soak them. If you don’t have a high speed blender, it may take more time to achieve a really smooth consistency.
- I cook 1 whole potato (245 g, red or Yukon gold is my favorite for this), 1/3 of an onion (95 g), 1 large carrot or 6 baby carrots (50 g), and 1/3 of a red pepper (58 g). Then measure out what I need from there. You will have left over but I’d rather have more than be short. The veggies weigh more after they are cooked because they absorb the water. The cashews weigh about 150 g after cooked.
- This makes about 3 cups sauce.
- Serving size is 1/4 cup.