If you’ve ever wondered how to make the creamiest, dreamiest Vegan Nacho Cheese Without Cashews, you’ve come to the right place. My nut-free, soy-free, and dairy-free nacho cheese recipe has all the flavor and pourable consistency you crave but is completely plant-based. Best of all, it is made with just 10 simple ingredients in only 30 minutes!
Still craving more plant-based cheesy goodness? Try my Vegan Mexican Street Corn, Vegan Mac & Cheese, and Vegan Cherry Cheesecake next! While you’re at it, let me know what other cheesy snacks you’re craving in the comments below so I can help you crush your cravings while maintaining a vegan lifestyle.
With the Super Bowl fast approaching, I decided it was high time that I vegan-ize the king of appetizer foods — nacho cheese dip. Frighteningly neon in color and brimming with dairy & strange artificial ingredients, this cheesy sauce has always been both curiously craveable and the complete antithesis of good-for-you foods. Until now, that is.
Since cheese was the hardest habit to kick when I started my plant-based journey, I figured that for the most dip-worthy event of the year I should give a shout-out to my fellow cheese-loving vegans. As a result, I came up with this tasty (and healthy!) vegan cheese sauce for nachos and have been dipping, pouring, and slathering it over nearly everything — and I couldn’t be happier about it.
What is Nacho Cheese?
Nacho cheese is a classic American food that you either hate or love. It is ooey, gooey, and highly-processed.
Unlike other cheeses, nacho cheese is not regulated by the FDA. Therefore, it technically can be made with any kind of cheese and mixture of ingredients and spices. Luckily, in our vegan nacho cheese without cashews recipe there are not hidden ingredients, yet it still is vibrant, creamy, and addicting!
Perhaps the best thing about this cheesy miracle is that, unlike other recipes, you don’t need ANY nuts or tofu to make it. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Potatoes - Medium-starchy Yukon Golds are the *gold* standard (pun 100% intended) for blending into creamy bliss, but feel free to swap in starchier Russet or Idaho potatoes instead.
- Carrots - While any color (orange, purple, or white) will work here, orange will give you the closest approximation of the neon hue we all hate to love. 😂
- Onion - I typically use yellow onions here, but red or white onions (or even shallots!) will do just fine.
- Nutritional Yeast - Affectionately known as “nooch” in the plant-based community, these bright yellow little flakes are the ticket to creating the savory, umami flavor you crave without any cheese.
- Garlic Powder & Onion Powder - For extra allium sweetness. If you have a high-powered blender, feel free to swap in dried garlic and onion flakes instead.
- Chili Powder & Smoked Paprika - To give serious Tex-Mex vibes and a touch of smokiness that is irresistible.
- Fresh Lemon Juice - Bottled lemon juice can’t hold a candle to the flavor of fresh. To get the most juice from your fruit, give it a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before slicing it open.
- Plant-Based Milk - Any unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk will work here, but I typically favor creamier versions like oat or soy.
Pro Tips for Vegan Nacho Cheese
- Serving Suggestions. Contrary to what you may believe, this nacho vegan cheese sauce isn’t just for chips. I’ve been drizzling it over veggies (steamed broccoli in particular), using it to make Tex-Mex-inspired vegan mac & cheese, adding it to my fajita bowls and burrito bowls, and jazzing up my jacket potatoes with it. It also makes for a stellar addition to my sheet pan vegan nachos recipe.
- Waste Not, Want Not. Save your spent lemon rinds for making tasty lemon purée, deodorizing your garbage disposal, or making a homemade all-purpose cleaning spray. You can also zest the fruit before juicing, then use the zest to make a zippy compound butter or jazz up your favorite vinaigrettes or cake recipes.
Can you freeze plant-based nacho cheese? Absolutely! Feel free to freeze in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months. To use, defrost overnight in the fridge, then microwave or warm on the stovetop, stirring vigorously once warm to return it to creamy perfection.
What does vegan nacho cheese sauce taste like? Call me crazy, but this blend of veggies and spices tastes nearly identical to movie theater nacho cheese! The similarities in taste and texture are honestly uncanny.
How long does vegan nacho cheese last? Feel free to refrigerate it for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.
How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese without Cashews
Bring a pot of water to boil, and place the potatoes, carrots, and onions in the pot once it's boiling. Boil for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Save at least ½ cup of the water from the pot, then drain and transfer the potatoes, carrots, and onions to a high-speed blender.
Add the remaining ingredients along with the boiled veggies into the blender, starting with ¼ cup of the water reserved from the pot and adding more to get your desired consistency. Blend until completely smooth, and adjust any seasonings to your liking.
Pour into a serving bowl, garnish with jalapenos, green onions, and/or cilantro, and serve with chips for dipping!
While I think this is the best vegan nacho cheese recipe around, there are plenty of ways for you to make your stamp on it. Here are a few variations to consider:
- Jalapeño Nacho Cheese - Make it extra spicy by folding in minced fresh (or pickled) jalapeños after blending.
- Extra Cheesy - Stir in a handful of your favorite vegan cheese shreds for an even stretchier cheese experience.
- Add Protein - If you want a little bit of chunkiness in your cheese dip, consider adding vegan chili beans or cooked meatless crumbles for more of a “chili con queso” experience.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
If ever there was a vegan recipe worthy of the title “liquid gold,” this plant-based cheese sauce is IT. Aside from tasting eerily similar to your favorite stadium snack, my nacho sauce recipe is:
- Quick & Easy - Prep your veggies, boil them until fork tender, then blend to creamy vegan cheese sauce perfection! The whole thing will be done in just 30 minutes or less.
- Made With Only 10 Ingredients - And half of them are probably already in your spice cabinet.
- Allergy-Friendly - As a naturally dairy-free, vegan, nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free nacho cheese sauce, this is the ultimate party dip for even the most mixed dietary company.
Let me know if you try out this vegan nacho cheese without cashews, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! Make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
More Vegan Appetizers:
- Fully Loaded Sheet Pan Nachos
- Cucumber Bites
- Mexican Street Corn
- Whipped Feta Dip
- Pierogies with Potatoes and Impossible Meat
- Fried Olives
- Pigs in a Blanket
Pin the image below to save this recipe for your next party!