This easy vegan nacho cheese sauce is easy to make from scratch with healthy ingredients. It’s a delicious melty sauce to pour over some Air Fryer Tortilla Chips for impromptu nachos. Ready in minutes, its everything you want from a creamy, spicy cheese sauce. This plant-based nacho cheese dip is so good, you might even forget that it’s also healthy!
When I was growing up, the only way we made nacho cheese was with a big block of orange goo, called American cheese, AKA Velveeta. I had no idea what I was eating in those days, but with knowledge comes power.
These days I make my vegan nacho cheese recipe with all the healthy (and delicious) ingredients.
This cashew nacho cheese sauce is something special because it’s made entirely with plant-based ingredients. Combining healthy and delicious in the same sentence is a favorite goal!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- CREAMY — Using cashews creates a deliciously creamy base for this sauce
- NATURAL — Carrots add color with a hint of sweetness and texture
- BEST FLAVOR — Combining chili powder and smoked paprika adds the perfect smoky nacho flavor that is irresistibly delicious time after time
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Raw cashews — I buy raw cashews at health food stores or online.
- Carrot — You’ll need one medium carrot or 3 to 4 baby carrots.
- Nutritional yeast flakes — You can find nutritional yeast, or ‘nooch’, at health food stores or online.
- Lemon juice — You can use fresh-squeezed or bottled.
- Miso — It’s important to use either yellow or white mild miso paste because it has a more subtle flavor to it. You can substitute a teaspoon of soy sauce or Tamari.
- Spices — Add garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika. You can use regular paprika, using smoked adds a smoky, chipotle flavor to this sauce.
- Salt and pepper — For some of you this may be fine as is. If you prefer more salt and/or pepper, add more to taste.
- Toppings — Add toppings such as chopped cherry tomatoes, diced red onions, and chopped cilantro or parsley.
What Cashews are Best?
Cashews are technically a seed that’s been categorized as a nut and sometimes considered a legume. Talk about confusing! Raw cashews add creaminess to plant-based recipes. You can find them in health food stores and online.
Serve this sauce immediately, or transfer it to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 7 to 10 days. It may thicken during storage. If so, add a tablespoon or so of plain soy milk while reheating.
Here are my favorite ways to serve this vegan nacho cheese sauce:
- With Air Fryer Tortilla Chips as an appetizer
- As a sauce over Vegan Enchiladas
- This is the best vegan cheese for nachos. I love to serve it with Vegan Jackfruit Nachos.
- Substitute it for vegan cheese with any of your favorite Mexican dishes like Vegan Taco Casserole
- Drizzle it over these Vegan Loaded Baked Potatoes
- These Loaded Vegan Nachos are perfect with this sauce on top
What goes well with nachos?
How do you thicken vegan cheese sauce?
If you’d like a thicker vegan cheese sauce, add more soaked cashews to the blender. You can also transfer the sauce to a saucepan and cook over medium heat with a tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder stirred in. Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
Vegan Cheese Dip Recipes
This vegan nacho dip is amazing. Here are more delicious vegan cheese dips you’ll love to try:
Those are some of my favorite vegan cheese nacho sauce. Keep reading below for recipes from some of my favorite food blogging friends celebrating National Nacho Day!
Vegan Nacho Dip
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons mild miso paste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cup diced red onions
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
- Add cashews and sliced carrots to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, until the cashews and carrots are tender. Remove from heat to cool slightly, then drain the water.
- Add cooked cashews, carrots, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, miso, and spices to a food processor or blender. Pulse until broken down into smaller pieces. Use a rubber spatula to wipe down the sides of the blender jar and lid.
- Add water ½ cup at a time and pulse again, gradually turning up the speed to create a smooth consistency. Continue adding water until you achieve a desired consistency.
- Let cool 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.
- Serve immediately with toppings and tortilla chips.
- Use immediately, or transfer sauce to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 7 to 10 days.
(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
National Nacho Day
Come celebrate National Nacho Day with me and some of my favorite food bloggers! Below are some awesome recipes for you to try in honor of this tasty national holiday.
Celebrating National Nacho Day with other nacho recipes from a variety of bloggers: