Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese

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This Vegan Nacho Cheese is incredible as a dip for baked chips as well as on fries, baked potatoes, and pizza. For healthy burritos and quesadillas, it can’t be beaten! Make it with cashews or white beans.

blue bowl of vegan nacho cheese with a homemade tortilla chip being dipped in it.

This dairy-free queso takes vegan cheese to a whole new level. It’s a combination of my regular cheese sauce and salsa, so you can kick the spice up a notch with medium or hot. If you’re looking for a super quick recipe, try this 5-Minute Vegan Cashew Queso.

white bowl of vegan nacho cheese with chip dipped into it

How to make vegan nacho cheese

This recipe is really a 2-in-1 deal because it’s a combination of my Vegan Cheese Sauce recipe and Blender Salsa.

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

Make the vegan cheese sauce first

No-Cheese Sauce used in this recipe is delicious and versatile. We also eat it on pizza, tacos, baked potatoes, lasagna, and so much more.

You will want to make this cheese sauce first thing. It’s really easy to make and even freezes well. I usually already have some on hand in my freezer which shortens the steps to making any of my recipes that require cheese such as vegan nachoshealthy broccoli casserole, and dairy-free scalloped potatoes.

vegan cheese sauce in blender

Making the cheese sauce is as simple as boiling a pot of potatoes, onions, and carrots, adding them to a blender with cashews (or white beans), spices, and blending it until smooth.

cashews soaking in water and bowl of beans with labels

Vegan cheese sauce made with cashews or white beans

Originally, I made the No-Cheese Sauce with 1/2 cup raw cashews. Now, I sometimes sub out white beans–like navy beans or cannellini–to lower the fat content even more.

Nowadays, I mostly make it with a combination of the two– 1/4 cup cashews + 1/4 cup white beans. It has all of the warm creamy texture with less fat.

I use a Vitamix blender for all of my recipes because no matter what I’m making, this high-powered blender will produce the exact result I’m looking for.

cast iron frying pan filled with vegan nacho cheese topped with peppers

If you’re looking for a firm cheese instead of a sauce, check out this Sliceable Vegan Cheese.

Use bought salsa or make it homemade

The other ingredient for this nacho cheese is salsa. You can use any favorite store-bought salsa, or make your own. All that is required to make homemade salsa is a few ingredients and a blender.

Add fire-roasted tomatoes, garlic, onions, cilantro, lime juice, chipotle, garlic powder, and salt to a blender and process for just a few seconds. I like to make my Blender Salsa nice and chunky.

Next, simply combine 2 cups of the cheese sauce and 1 cup of salsa and mix well. We eat ours with homemade baked tortilla chips that are super easy to make in minutes. I’m including the instructions for the chips below.

overhead shot of 2 bowls for vegan nacho cheese sauce with a bowl of salsa on side

*Originally published February 2, 2015.

How to make homemade baked tortilla chips for dipping

Homemade corn tortillas are SO easy to make. Simply use regular corn tortillas.

Slice each tortilla into 8 slices using a pizza slicer.

corn tortillas begin sliced with pizza cutter to make baked tortilla chips on baking sheet

Arrange on a baking sheet and spritz with a water bottle.

Sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder.

Bake at 400°F for about 5-7 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Very easy and delish!

homemade baked tortilla chips in basket with whole corn tortillas stacked in background on wooden tabletop

Other great vegan cheese recipes

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

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blue bowl of vegan queso with corn chip
4.58 from 47 votes

Vegan Nacho Cheese

Amazing Vegan Nacho Cheese is incredible as a dip for baked chips as well as on fries, baked potatoes, and pizza. For healthy burritos and quesadillas, it can’t be beat!
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients 

  • No-Cheese Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 cup potatoes peeled & diced
  • 1/4 cup carrots diced
  • 1/4 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup broth from veggies
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (or 1/2 c white beans)
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper optional

Easy Blender Salsa

  • 2 15 oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic medium
  • 3/4 cup onion diced
  • 1/2-3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • small piece of chipotle in adobe sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

Cheese Sauce

  • In a medium pot, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. Place potatoes, carrots, and onion in the pot and allow to cook until veggies are tender, approximately 15 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on how small the veggies are diced.
  • When veggies are tender, drain them and place them in a blender. NOTE: reserve 1 cup of the broth, and add to blender. Add all the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.
  • NOTE: I have a Vitamix blender and so don't take the time to soak the cashews. That thing is powerful and everything that goes into it comes out creamy. However, if your blender isn't jet engine speed, soaking the cashews in warm water for at least 30 minutes before adding to this recipe will help this recipe come out more creamy. 
  • Once the cheese sauce is blended well, it's ready to use. It makes approximately 1 quart and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Salsa Instructions

  • Place all salsa ingredients in blender and pulse to desired consistency.

Nacho Cheese

  • Combine 2 cups of cheese sauce and 1 cup of salsa. Stir well and eat!

Video

Notes

Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.
Use bought salsa or make it homemade
The other ingredient for this nacho cheese is salsa. You can use any favorite store-bought salsa, or make your own. All that is required to make homemade salsa is a few ingredients and a blender.
Add fire-roasted tomatoes, garlic, onions, cilantro, lime juice, chipotle, garlic powder, and salt to a blender and process for just a few seconds. I like to make my Blender Salsa nice and chunky.

Nutrition

Calories: 5kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 1.9g | Fat: 1g | Fiber: 2g

Disclaimer

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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5 Comments

  1. Hi,
    Your nacho cheese sauce sounds great but nutritional yeast and I don’t agree. Any thing I could substitute for that? Thanks

4.58 from 47 votes (47 ratings without comment)

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