If you need the perfect vegan nacho cheese sauce to dip into, look no further! This sauce has the perfect combination of flavors and is made with a base of potatoes and carrots that are completely undetectable. It's also oil- and nut-free, and requires just a handful of simple ingredients in a matter of minutes!
Vegan cheese sauce can be expensive to buy at grocery stores but it turns out it's incredibly easy and affordable to make at home!
I adapted this recipe from Hot For Food. It's amazing but I prefer to cook oil-free. Then I saw Brand New Vegan using mostly potatoes and carrots to make cheese sauces, so I increased the amount, because mo' veggies, mo' better. Am I right?
What is vegan nacho cheese made out of?
Get ready to spice up your snack game, my friends, because we're about to talk about vegan nacho cheese! The best part? There are so many different bases to choose from, so you can mix it up and keep your taste buds on their toes. Here are some popular bases for vegan nacho cheese:
- Cashews: Raw cashews are a popular base for vegan cheese sauces, especially vegan queso, due to their creamy texture and mild flavor. When soaked and blended with other ingredients, cashews can create a smooth and flavorful cheese sauce that's perfect for dipping. Sunflower seeds can also produce a similar result for a nut-free option.
- Tofu: Silken tofu can be blended with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and other seasonings to create a smooth and tangy cheese sauce that's perfect for dipping or drizzling over nachos.
- Potatoes and carrots: Boiled potatoes and carrots can be blended together with spices and other flavorings to create a creamy and flavorful cheese sauce. It's perfect for all the health-conscious snackers that want something low-fat, oil-free, and high-fiber.
- Sweet potatoes: Roasted sweet potatoes blended with spices and plant milk make for a sweet and savory cheese sauce that's packed with vitamins and fiber. Perfect for topping baked potatoes or nachos!
- Coconut milk: With its rich and velvety texture it makes the perfect base for a smooth and indulgent cheese sauce. Its subtle sweetness pairs well with the savory flavors of nutritional yeast, spices and other ingredients often used in vegan cheese recipes.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your favorite base and get creative with your vegan nacho cheese!
The base of this particular vegan nacho cheese recipe is made using whole foods: potatoes and carrots. They are cooked and blended to make a smooth and creamy sauce. Don't worry it won't taste like vegetables!
They're the perfect base because their mild flavors allow for the additional ingredients to really shine and give it the nacho taste we're looking for. Here's what all you'll need:
- Yukon potatoes - This potato variety is ideal for vegan nacho cheese because it's lower in starch than other potato varieties which means it'll produce a sauce that's less likely to become gummy. On the other hand, it has just enough natural potato starch to naturally thicken the sauce without needing cornstarch or tapioca starch.
- Carrots - Add a lovely orange color to the sauce plus a little natural sweetness.
- Pickled jalapeño slices + liquid - Gives this vegan nacho cheese sauce a more authentic flavor and a little heat.
- Nutritional yeast - The secret to making sauces taste cheesy without any dairy. This simple ingredient really pulls it all together and helps it taste like the real thing! Don't have nutritional yeast or can't find it? Here are the best ways to substitute nutritional yeast depending on what you're making (including this cheese sauce!).
- Tomato paste - Adds a rich, savory flavor and helps to thicken the sauce. It also provides a boost of umami that helps to create a delicious cheesy flavor without the use of dairy.
- Lemon juice - Balances everything out by adding a bright, acidic flavor to the mix! It also helps to add a bit of tanginess that mimics the flavor of traditional dairy-based cheese.
- Seasonings - This recipe uses garlic powder, onion powder, and salt but you can make it spicier with chili powder, a more vibrant bright orange color with turmeric powder, or whatever your heart desires!
Find the exact quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
What is nutritional yeast?
It's deactivated yeast so it won't make your bread rise like baker's yeast. It provides a cheesy, nutty flavor. Sometimes it also has the added benefit of being fortified with vitamin B12 but not always. And it boasts 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons!
This is a great additive for anyone looking to replace cheese on a vegan diet, however, it's recommended to avoid for those with Crohn's Disease as yeast can make symptoms of the disease worse. For everyone else, it is perfectly safe to eat.
If you're curious about this unique ingredient, we have an entire article dedicated to what nutritional yeast is and how to use it.
What equipment do you need?
You're going to need a large soup pot to boil the carrots and potatoes, as well as a blender or food processor to blend everything together.
What to Serve With it?
This vegan nacho cheese sauce recipe is a delicious and versatile dip that pairs well with a variety of foods. Here are some of my favorite ways to serve it:
- Tortilla chips - The classic choice! Serve your vegan nacho cheese with a big bowl of crispy corn chips for a perfect snack or party appetizer.
- Vegetables - Cut up some fresh veggies like carrots, celery, and bell peppers for a healthy and colorful snack that pairs perfectly with your vegan cheese dip.
- Baked potatoes - Top a baked potato with vegan nacho cheese, black beans or tofu ground beef crumbles, salsa, vegan sour cream, and guacamole for a hearty and satisfying meal. It even goes great on a baked sweet potato!
- Tacos - Drizzle vegan nacho cheese over your favorite vegan tacos for a cheesy and flavorful twist. Top with a roasted chili corn salsa and guacamole.
- Sandwiches and wraps - Spread vegan nacho cheese on your favorite bread or wrap to add a pop of flavor to your next lunch or dinner.
- Roasted veggies - Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts are the perfect vessels for a creamy and flavorful vegan cheese sauce.
How long will it keep?
I've stored this sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer, store in the freezer. Thaw and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
More Vegan Cheese Recipes
- Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Ball topped with cranberries is ready in just 10 minutes. It's spreadable and made with simple ingredients!
- Vegan Ricotta made with cashews is quick and easy to make. It has a delightful balance of sweet and tanginess, making it the perfect dairy-free substitute for all your ricotta cheese needs!
- Smoky Cheese Sauce is a tasty and nutritious dip that combines cashews, vegetables and spices to create a cheesy sauce perfect for nachos, dipping, or even on pasta! Give it a try next time you need to switch up your pasta routine!
- Enjoy the same richness of mascarpone cheese with this vegan mascarpone made with just four simple ingredients!
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Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce (No Nuts)
- 1 lb Yukon potatoes
- 2 large carrots
- ½ cup water used to boil the potatoes
- 6 pickled jalapeño slices
- 3 tablespoons jalapeño pickling liquid
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Prep the vegetables first by washing and scrubbing both the potatoes and carrots. Peel if desired. I peeled the carrots but left the skin on the potatoes.1 lb Yukon potatoes, 2 large carrots
- Chop potatoes and carrots into uniform pieces (½-1 inch cubes) and boil for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes without draining, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to your blender.
- Add ½ cup of the boiled water to the blender and pulse to mix (the starches in the water left from the vegetables help to thicken the sauce).½ cup water
- Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.6 pickled jalapeño slices, 3 tablespoons jalapeño pickling liquid, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Can be served cold or hot.
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This vegan nacho cheese article was originally published on July 8th, 2020 and has been updated April 19th, 2023 with additional information and tips.