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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!
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!
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:
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.
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