Easy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
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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:
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.
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