Nacho Cheese

BY : PUBLISHED : June 23rd, 2021 UPDATED: August 25th, 2021

From the author, Toni Okamoto: This AMAZING Nacho Cheese recipe is from my book, Plant-Based on a Budget Add it to tacos, Tachos, burritos, use it as a mac n cheese sauce — the possibilities are endless!

Thank you to Lively Days for bringing this video to life.

From Plant-Based on a Budget: This easy vegan nacho sauce requires just 7 ingredients and under 20 minutes to make and is creamy, cheesy, and packed with hidden veggies for a nutrient boost. Best of all, this vegan cheese sauce is super versatile; use it for nachos, but also pasta, pizza, burgers, mac n’ cheese, tacos, grain bowls, or even vegan queso!

Thick, Creamy, Flavor-Packed Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

If you were to gather a group of people at different stages in their plant-based journey, nearly everyone would mention cheese; whether it’s stopping them from taking the final step to veganism or one of the foods they miss most- we all love cheese, it seems! Luckily, there are tons more dairy-free alternatives available these days. Unfortunately, for those on a budget, commercial versions aren’t exactly budget-friendly. That’s where this vegan nacho cheese sauce comes in!

We’ve already shared recipes for a baked potato mac n’ cheese, butternut squash mac n’ cheese, and a sweet potato macaroni no-cheese bake. We even make our own mozzarella – all to satisfy our cheesy cravings. Now it’s the turn of this ultimate vegan nacho cheese sauce.

This vegan cheese sauce recipe (from the ‘Plant-based on a Budget’ recipe book) utilizes budget-friendly veggies as its base, combined with simple pantry staples and nutritional yeast (a staple in most vegan kitchens!).

By blending potatoes, they’re whipped into a thick gummy-like texture that we usually avoid – but time works in our favor to mimic a creamy cheese sauce consistency. The result is a vegan cheese sauce that practically costs pennies per serving yet tastes like the real deal. Meat-free and Omni guests alike will be impressed!

Is Vegan Nacho Cheese Good For You?

Regular dairy nacho cheese? Not so much! This carrot potato cheese sauce, though – Sure is! It’s packed with natural ingredients and veggies, which means lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! Plus, when making homemade vegan nacho cheese, you can be in control of the amount of fat and sodium used – so it’s a win-win!

Even better, this easy vegan cheese sauce uses all real ingredients for all the flavor of a regular nacho sauce, but none of the guilt. If anything, it’s a great way to sneak in extra nutrients to any meal.

Best of all, it’s 100% nut-free – which is great for those with allergies and is more budget-friendly! In fact, this vegan nacho cheese recipe is also gluten-free, paleo, oil-free, dairy-free, and spice-adjustable!

Ingredient and Recipe 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).
  • Extra spices: Want the vegan nacho cheese sauce to be smokier? Add in a little smoked paprika. For spice? Add a little cayenne pepper (or fresh chilies if you have some at home).
  • Adding arrowroot flour/starch: This can help to give the vegan cheese sauce even more of a stretchy ‘goopy’ cheese consistency. However, it’s not necessary. If you want to try, though, I recommend adding 1tsp to the blender then transferring the mixture to the stovetop for a couple of minutes (the starch is heat activated, so the blender alone may not be enough).
  • The blender you use: A high-speed blender works best for this vegan cheese sauce recipe. However, if your blender isn’t quite as powerful, it should still work. It’ll just need a little extra time. Give it some breaks (so it doesn’t overheat) and scrape down the sides.
  • Reserve the veggie cooking water: You can use this to thin the nacho cheese rather than fresh water.

How to Make Vegan Nacho Sauce?

Pulling together this vegan nacho cheese sauce recipe couldn’t be much simpler. In fact, the entire recipe is made up of just two steps. Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the full list of ingredients and recipe instructions!

  • Peel, chop and boil the veggies until tender. (Top tip: Why not save the potato peel to make potato peel chips. Soak and dry them, then drizzle a little oil and seasoning over the peels and bake them in the oven for between 15-20 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF.)
  • Combine the cooked veggies with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth!
  • Make sure to give it a taste and adjust any of the seasonings, then enjoy!

How to Store?

Store any leftover vegan nacho cheese sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for between 3-5 days.

You can also freeze leftovers. Allow the nacho cheese to cool, transfer to an airtight container/ Ziplock bag, and freeze for up to two months.

Note that the sauce will thicken up somewhat in the fridge. Just microwave it for 20-30 seconds to soften up again. Alternatively, transfer the cheese sauce to the stovetop to reheat. You’ll probably need a little plant-based milk or water to loosen the mixture up again. Whisk it well until it’s smooth and creamy again.

How to Serve Vegan Nacho Cheese?

This vegan cheese sauce recipe shouldn’t be reserved for nachos alone (though a big plate of nachos with black beans, salsa, guac, and this sauce is a must-try!). In fact, it makes for the most delicious all-purpose vegan cheese sauce. Here are just a few ways to enjoy it:

This sauce goes particularly well with Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired dishes, too, like:

Or browse through the entire collection of Mexican-inspired recipes for more inspiration!

More Simple Sauce Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Nacho Cheese

Toni Okamoto
This vegan nacho cheese sauce will be the life of the party! Its smooth texture and cheesy taste will have you dipping and drizzling it on all of your favorite dishes. 
4.7 from 46 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side
Cuisine American
Servings 1 medium bowl
Calories 412 kcal
METHOD Stovetop
DIET Vegan


  • 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


  • 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.



Calories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 85gProtein: 20gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1734mgPotassium: 2362mgFiber: 15gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 21702IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 119mgIron: 5mg
Keyword nacho cheese, nachos, no oil, plant-based, plant-based cheese, vegan, vegan cheese, whole foods
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

cheese in white bowl with white background

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

View all posts by Toni Okamoto