Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce is made with soaked, raw cashews, blended with water, nutritional yeast and spices; and warmed on the stove until it reaches nacho cheese perfection! Optional but good: Add Sriracha to taste or keep it mild for kids with sensitive palates. Serve nacho cheese sauce with chips, or even drizzle on steamed broccoli or baked potatoes!
Last week, we ate at the Veggie Grill near us. Oh my goodness, I could eat there every day! Unfortunately (or fortunately, for the budget!), it’s a good 25 minutes away, so we really don’t get there often enough. We do live near Portland, THE Mecca for vegan food, but it’s far enough that with 3 kids and traffic, we rarely make it to the city for good vegan eats.
Anyhow, we got the nacho appetizer to share, and that’s when I started thinking about the fact that I really needed to up my nacho game. I was anxious to come home and try to re-create the nacho cheese sauce they had. It was SO good. And mild enough that I knew my kids would totally go for it.
I do have a tried and true recipe on the blog for Vegan Queso Dip with Cashews that is somewhat similar to this one. It’s amazing and a real crowd pleaser, but it is quite spicy and has chunky tomatoes and green chiles in it, which my kids aren’t crazy about. It’s also thicker, and makes for a better dip with chips than a pourable sauce.
I hope you love this Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce! It’s:
- Creamy and rich
- Mild, but spice adjustable
- Pourable; not too thick
- Easy and Quick to prepare
- Versatile: Enjoy with chips, on a baked potato or drizzle on steamed vegetables!
Want more delicious vegan Mexican recipes? Try any of these:
Ultimate Fully Loaded Vegan Nachos
Cauliflower Walnut Mushroom Taco Meat
Roasted Vegetable Enchilada Casserole
If you make this recipe, let me know how it goes! Rate it, leave a comment and tag a photo @noracooksvegan on Instagram or find me on Facebook. Enjoy!
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Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
- 4 cups water, divided, plus more as needed to thin
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, optional for color
- Soak the cashews: You can either do a quick soak, or soak the cashews for several hours or overnight. To quick soak, simply boil water in a tea kettle or on the stovetop, cover the cashews with the boiling water and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain.
- Blend: In a high powered blender, add the cashews, lemon juice, 3 cups of the water, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and the salt. Add optional turmeric to make the cheese more yellow/orange.
- Warm: In a medium saucepan, add the cheese sauce from the blender. Using a whisk, warm over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Add the last cup of water, depending on how thick or thin you want the sauce to be.
- Add more salt to taste, and Sriracha if using, depending on your spice preference. If the cheese sauce sits for a while, or you refrigerate the leftovers, it will thicken. Simply warm it again on the stove, adding water as needed to thin. Serve over tortilla chips, steamed broccoli, baked potatoes and more.
- Raw slivered almonds may be able to subbed for cashews, but they will need to be soaked very well. If you need a nut free cheese sauce, check out my Nut Free Vegan Cheese Sauce.
- You do really need a high powered blender for this cheese to get smooth and creamy. A food processor or regular blender just won't be able to get it very creamy. I use a Vitamix blender and love it.
This was exactly what I was looking for – a simple healthy alternative to nacho cheese sauce! I made a test batch and it was thinner than I wanted for dipping veggies or chips. Second time I only used one cup of water total while blending (maybe a tablespoon or two more) and I skipped heating it. It was perfect! Thanks
Hi Nicole. How great you loved the cheese sauce and found the perfect consistency you love! Thank you for your great ideas and feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!
This is delicious ! We had ample leftovers (about 1/2 of the recipe) , so I added a can of diced green chilies and used it as the sauce for sour cream Daring plant chicken enchiladas (inspired by your sour cream enchilada recipe ) and that was awesome too! Love all your recipes !
That sounds absolutely delicious! I’m thrilled you loved the cheese sauce! Thanks for sharing your fantastic feedback, review, and ideas! Happy cooking!
I’m glad you love the sauce! Thank you for sharing your great review!
I always use your recipes if you’re an option for a food i’m trying to make on Pinterest. I’ve made this a few times already and it’s the best. Just wanted to give you props! Our household really appreciates your magic in the kitchen.
I appreciate your kind words, Kelley! I”m thrilled that you love my recipes! Thanks for sharing your fantastic feedback and review!
I locked it up a couple notches by adding a tablespoon or 2 of picked jalapeños and juice as we as a slice or 2 of Daiya cheddar before blending 💥
I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate this recipe. I go through a batch a week since I discovered it 4 weeks ago. Nacho chips with cheese sauce and pickled jalapeños is my favourite food of all time! If i didn’t have a wife and kids, this would be all I ever ate. And I hadn’t had my fix since going vegan 6 years ago. So thank you Nora, your wisdom has made me very happy. 🙏
I’m baffled, I’ve made this at least twice and I loved it, wanted to drink it! I just made it today, followed all directions to a T but it has no taste at all (No, I don’t have COVID). What could be the culprit? Bad nooch? Any suggestions to fix it?
Hi Lyn. It’s hard to know what went wrong without being there, but is it possible you missed the salt, garlic powder, or another ingredient?
This recipe was so easy for me to do and so freakin good! Thank you so much
Thanks so much for your wonderful review!
Yummy!! I just gave my husband a bite on a tortilla chip, and I said “good” he said “very”, “so good I need some more” haha!! Thanks for a great recipe!!
Creamy, smooth and delicious! Thank you for creating and sharing this recipe.
You are welcome, Christina! I’m so glad you loved the sauce! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback!
I’ve made this one before, but wow what a difference a vitamix makes! Finally got one and the creaminess it added is amazing, and super quick compared to my ninja blender lol. Even with a 10 minute quick soak, the whole process took about 12 minutes start to finish. My omni bf thought it was great too, and he’s picky lol. Tasted great on baked potatoes.
Thank you very much for another great one. <3
How exciting that you got a vitamix! It really does make a difference! The sauce sounds delicious on baked potatoes – I’m so glad you loved it! Thanks for your wonderful feedback!
I thought it tasted great but I struggled with it being a little chunky any advice? I’m assuming I didn’t blend it long enough?
Hi Lara. I’m glad you loved the flavor of the cheese sauce! Did you use a high powered blender such as a Vitamix? If you didn’t, it won’t get as smooth and creamy so that could be why. Did you soak the cashews? If you are using a regular blender or food processor, make sure to soak the cashews well for a smoother cheese sauce. Hope that helps!
I am speechless. This sauce is heavenly good! I want to bathe in it and have a nacho bowl floating around so I can grab and dip. 😛
I’m gonna have a cosy movie night today and serve it with steamed veggies tomorrow.
So so good and pretty much WFBP and oil free. Impressive.
Thank you <3
You are welcome! Your feedback means so much to me! I am thrilled that you love the sauce! It’s perfect for movie night! I hope you enjoy that thoroughly! Thanks for sharing your positive experience and review! Happy cooking!
Exactly what I’ve been looking for!! Been vegan 6 years and finally found THE recipe ?
Hi Sophie. How awesome that you found the cheese sauce recipe you’ve been looking for! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review! I hope you enjoy the sauce on a variety of yummy food!
I just made Mac and cheese with this sauce! It was so nice to have something creamy and “normal” again. I also love that there’s no plant milk in this recipe. No almond or oat taste at all!
Hi Diane. I’m glad you love the cheese sauce! How clever to use in Mac and cheese! Thanks for sharing your feedback and ideas!
I made this last night, I halved the batch and still have so much left over. I saw on a few comments this can keep for 4/5 days on the fridge but I was wondering if this could be frozen!
Hi Rachel. Yes, the cheese sauce freezes very well!
This nacho cheese is awesome!!! We will definitely make this again.
This was my first attempt at a vegan cheese sauce and I can’t believe how delicious it is! My family of dairy-eaters also whole heartedly agreed that it was delicious and went through the pantry trying to find various snacks to dip into the nacho sauce to keep eating it. Thanks for the great and easy recipe!
Better than cheese. Utterly yummy.
Thank you so much for your positive feedback! I’m glad you are loving the cheese sauce!