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Best Vegan Nacho Cheese

Cheesy and creamy vegan nacho cheese sauce made without cashews. It’s a little spicy, full of flavor, and perfect with tortilla chips or in tacos.

A bowl of vegan nacho cheese dip surrounded by round tortilla chips.

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Believe it or not, cooked potatoes and carrots give this vegan cheese it’s creamy and smooth texture – and bright color! Blended with nutritional yeast and spices, you get a super flavorful cheese that is perfect with so many dishes or as a dip.

If you’re newly vegan and desperately miss cheese (I hear you, cheese was tough for me to give up) this will definitely satisfy that craving.

Plus, it’s nut-free, oil-free, gluten-free, and pretty dang nutritious since it’s made from vegetables.

Ingredients for vegan nacho cheese sauce on a table, including carrots and potatoes.

Ingredients

For full list of ingredients and amounts, see the recipe card below.

  • Potatoes and carrots: These are the base for this cheese sauce! Potatoes create the smooth and creamy texture and carrots add to the flavor and color.
  • Nutritional yeast: AKA “nooch“, this helps give it a cheesy flavor.
  • Lime juice and tomato paste: both of these add an acidic, tangy oomph and flavor.
  • Cornstarch: A thickener! You can also use arrowroot powder.
  • Chili powder, garlic, onion, paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper: Spices are really the key to get that nacho cheese flavor!

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How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese

For the full, printable recipe for this easy vegan nacho cheese sauce see the recipe card below.

Potatoes and carrots cooking in a pot of water.

Step 1: Add potatoes and carrots to a pot of water. Bring to a boil, and let boil for 10 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are soft.

Ingredients for vegan nacho cheese in a blender.

Step 2: Strain the potatoes and carrots. Add to a blender along with the remaining ingredients.

Cheese sauce in a blender.

Step 3: Blend until super creamy and smooth. Add more vegetable stock or milk if you want a thinner sauce.

Vegan nacho cheese in a pot with a wooden spoon.

Step 4: Pour the nacho cheese into a pot and heat on medium-low heat until it starts to bubble. This will activate the cornstarch and help thicken the nacho cheese.

Variations and Substitutions

  • You can add some pickled jalapeños to this vegan nacho cheese for extra heat!
  • Add fire roasted tomatoes or Rotel.
  • Don’t have lime juice? Substitute with lemon juice.
  • The cornstarch can be substituted with arrowroot powder.
A bowl of homemade vegan nacho cheese sauce surrounded by round tortilla chips.

Serving Ideas

Fell in love with this cheese sauce and now you want to use it with all the things? Here are some ideas:

Did you enjoy this recipe? Please leave a comment and a ⭐ star review below!

Try vegan queso blanco next!

A person dipping a chip into nacho cheese

Vegan Nacho Cheese

Karissa Besaw
Cheesy, creamy, a little spicy, full of flavor – this vegan nacho cheese is delicious and healthy.
4.77 from 42 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 12
Calories 32 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • cup potatoes peeled and cubed
  • cup carrots peeled and cubed
  • cup plant based milk plain, unsweetened
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, for extra spice

Instructions
 

  • Add potatoes and carrots to a pot of water. Bring to a boil, and let boil for 10 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Strain and add to a blender.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until super creamy and smooth.
  • Pour the nacho cheese into a pot and heat on medium-low heat until it starts to bubble. This will activate the cornstarch and help thicken the nacho cheese.
  • Serve warm with your favorite chips!

Notes

This recipe makes about 2.5 cups of nacho cheese.
The original recipe included vegetable stock, but I don’t think it really added much to the recipe so it was replaced with more non-dairy milk. You can use half milk/half stock if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 32kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 136mgPotassium: 156mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1357IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg
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6 Comments

  1. This was one of my favorite plant based/vegan nacho cheeses. I used it in tacos. I also mixed it with mashed black beans and put it in quesadillas. I like that it’s vegetable pasted and not nut based. Thank you for the great recipe!!

    1. I use this recipe as a base often with just 2tsp of corn starch and Silk brand original pea protein milk. I add a generous amount of Apple cider vinegar for added tanginess and was able to get the texture smoother with a tsp of liquid sunflower lecithin. Quick easy and takes care of cravings. Thank you!

  2. I tried this recipe today. This is more like mexican carrot soup. Not queso-esque in the slightest. The texture is decently creamy but simply lacks in that sticky elasticity that someone is looking for in a queso. I was super careful to follow the recipe exactly so I guess I’ll keep on searching and experimenting!

    1. Thank you for your feedback. I’d recommend adding a shredded vegan cheese for that elasticity. So Delicious is a great brand of vegan cheese that I love. This nacho cheese is intended to be more whole foods plant-based.

      1. Was a little potato-y as is. I added an extra 1/4 cup of nutch to get a more cheesy flavor. But pretty good.

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