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This nut-free vegan Nacho Cheese is easy to make and good for you! Add it to vegan tacos, burritos, nachos, mac and cheese, and more. The possibilities are endless! Plus, it’s ready in just 20 minutes!

hand dipping a tortilla chip into a small bowl of vegan nacho cheese sauce.

Thank you to Lively Days for bringing this video to life. The one in the video is the first recipe before I improved upon it.

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Easy and Creamy Dairy-Free Nacho Cheese Sauce

Whether you need the perfect topping for a plate of vegan nachos, a zesty and creamy sauce for butternut squash mac ‘n cheese, or a new go-to sweet potato burrito sauce, this vegan nacho cheese sauce has you covered! The recipe comes from my book, Plant-Based on a Budget, and delivers incredibly creamy dairy-free nacho cheese using just 7 real ingredients.

This vegan nacho cheese sauce recipe looks and tastes just like the real thing but is made entirely from veggies and budget-friendly ingredients. Cooked potatoes and carrots are blended with salsa and nutritional yeast (check out this nutritional yeast guide) until the sauce is luscious and creamy. And with bold Tex-Mex flavors in every scoop, you’ll keep coming back for more!

Best of all, this vegan nacho cheese recipe is 100% nut-free, gluten-free, paleo, oil-free, dairy-free, and spice-adjustable! After about 20 minutes of hands-on work, you’re free to dig into this delicious sauce with air fryer tortilla chips or pour it over vegan tacos (like these vegan fajita tacos), nachos, burritos (like this quinoa burrito), or pasta.

Looking for more cheesy vegan recipes? Check out our Vegan Tofu Ricotta Cheese, Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese, and Vegan Cheesy Zucchini Chips!

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for vegan nacho cheese sauce with labels.

What Else Could I Add?

  • Tang: A drop of mustard or pickle juice does wonders if you like an extra tangy cheese sauce (trust me!).
  • Smoke: A pinch of smoked paprika or a few drops of liquid smoke makes it nice and smoky.
  • Spicy: Blend in a pinch of cayenne pepper, pickled jalapeno slices, or freshly diced chilies.
  • Starch: Add 1 teaspoon of arrowroot flour or tapioca starch to make the cooked vegan cheese sauce more stretchy and gooey (perfect for a plate of nachos or homemade vegan pizza). 

How To Make Vegan Nacho Cheese

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.

process shot showing veggies in a bowl
process shot showing veggies in colander

Step 1: First, fill a large pot with water and add the chopped and peeled potatoes and carrots.

Step 2: Bring the water to a boil and cook until the veggies are soft. Drain the water.

process shot showing veggies in food processor

Step 3: Blend the boiled potatoes, carrots, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and salsa until smooth. Enjoy!

FAQs

Is vegan nacho cheese good for you?

Absolutely! Unlike regular nacho cheese, which is loaded with dairy and preservatives, this carrot potato cheese sauce has a long list of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, when making homemade vegan nacho cheese, you get to be in control of the amount of fat and sodium used, so it’s a win-win!

Do you have to use nutritional yeast?

Only if you want that delicious ‘cheesy’ flavor! I know nutritional yeast can be hard to find sometimes, but the sauce won’t be the same without it. As I said, you technically can use debittered brewer’s yeast as a substitute, but the flavor isn’t quite the same.

Can you use frozen vegetables?

Yes, you can use frozen carrots and potatoes if that’s what you already have on hand. Either let them thaw ahead of time or boil them quickly so they’re easier to blend.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Peel the carrots and potatoes in advance: Otherwise, the chunks of peel will make the sauce less smooth!
  • Chop the veggies uniformly: That way, they’ll boil and blend evenly.
  • Try to use a high-speed blender: A powerful high-speed blender whips up creamy and smooth vegan cheese sauce in an instant! If you only have a regular blender, it should still work but you’ll need to blend for a little longer.
  • Adjust the consistency: Blending in an extra splash of the reserved veggie cooking water or non-dairy milk will help thin the cheese sauce.
  • Taste while blending: Remember to taste the vegan cheese sauce once or twice during the blending process. Add a little more lemon juice, salt, salsa, or nutritional yeast as needed to adjust the flavors.
pouring vegan nacho cheese sauce into a small bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Because it comes together so easily, the nacho dip is a great fit for parties and special events! Surround the bowl with air fryer tortilla chips and crackers (like these rosemary vegan crackers) and watch as your guests gather around. Otherwise, you can serve the vegan cheese with:

Storage Instructions

Let the vegan cheese sauce cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

Vegan nacho cheese sauce also freezes well! Once it’s cool, transfer it to an airtight container or Ziplock/Stasher bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Allow the sauce to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Reheat the vegan cheese sauce in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds or in a small saucepan on the stove. Stir in a splash of water or non-dairy milk if needed.

a glass jar filled with vegan nacho cheese sauce with a lid on the side labeled, "vegan nacho cheese sauce".

Nacho Cheese

4.83 from 86 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 medium bowl
This nut-free vegan Nacho Cheese is easy to make and good for you! Add it to tacos, burritos, nachos, mac and cheese, and more. The possibilities are endless! Plus, it's ready in just 20 minutes!

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups of peeled diced russet potatoes
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • ½ cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup of salsa

Instructions 

  • Fill a large pot with water and add the peeled potatoes and carrots. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil and keep cooking for 10 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Remove from the heat and drain the water.
  • In a blender, blend the boiled potatoes, carrots, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and salsa until completely smooth.

Video

Notes

  • If you can’t find nutritional yeast: Try using debittered brewer’s yeast. It’s not exactly the same (in fact, I recommend reducing the amount used slightly), but will do in a pinch.
  • Experiment with potatoes: While I usually use russet potatoes, most potatoes I’ve tried (like Yukon Gold’s) have worked well. You can even swap out some of the potato for cauliflower (but not all if you want the thick cheesy texture!) if you’re running low.
  • The lemon juice: You can substitute the lemon for lime or even a little apple cider vinegar. For a little more tang, you could even add in a drop of mustard or pickle juice (trust me).

Nutrition

Calories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 85gProtein: 20gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 1702mgPotassium: 2344mgFiber: 15gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 21702IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 118mgIron: 5mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto
4.83 from 86 votes (81 ratings without comment)

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Comments

    1. Hi! We haven’t tried that out yet. Yukon Gold’s work well and you can even use cauliflower in a pinch!

  1. 5 stars
    I am still working my way into vegan, and have had a very hard time believing that anything could substitute for cheese, especially after trying a few store bought vegan items that had quite an aftertaste…..and SERIOUSLY, this ROCKS!!!! I have “sampled it out” to several folks from work and totally blew their minds too!!! THANK YOU!!!

  2. 5 stars
    This turned out perfectly! Reminds me how grateful I am for my Vitamix! I used jalapeño juice for the acid to kick it up a notch. Try to eat dairy free most of the time and this is such a great sub.