This quick and easy vegan nacho cheese is the ultimate comfort food made in just minutes! The flavor of this vegan nacho cheese is undeniably cheese-like, thanks to a simple cashew base, plus a few delightful add-ins.
Dairy free nacho cheese
This nacho cheese sauce lacks absolutely nothing when it comes to the taste experience!! It is one of the easiest-to-make vegan cheese options out there.
Comfort food at its best, this rich and creamy sauce is my go-to for all things Mexican - unless you need a shreddable cheese and then you might want to check out this amazing easy vegan block cheese.
Related recipe: Vegan Cheese Dip
What is vegan nacho cheese made of?
- Raw Cashews - the queen of creamy nuts! Get some here.
- Seasoned Salt, Garlic and Onion Powder - the flavor trio.
- Nutritional Yeast Flakes - otherwise known as 'nooch'! This stuff adds amazing cheesy flavor. Most large grocery stores carry it, or get some here. Nutritional yeast is loaded with B vitamins and niacin, making this nacho cheese a little healthy.
- Cornstarch or Tapioca Flour - gluten-free thickening agents
- Vegan Butter - adds richness and buttery flavor, but totally optional if you want to skip the refined fats.
- Miso Paste - it's a hidden agent! Don't use dark Miso paste, it will over-power. Stick with light or white Miso paste and you'll be amazed!
- Apple Cider Vinegar - I know it seems weird. It's not. Just try it. You won't taste it, it just gives the right tang.
- Pimentos - lend flavor and color without being over-powering.
Related recipe: Pico de Gallo with Mango
Steps for how to make this Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce:
First you rinse your cashews under hot water for several minutes, or soak them for 5 minutes in hot water (Photo 1).
Then put the rest of the ingredients plus just one cup of the water in your blender and process until completely smooth (Photo 2).
(If you are using a high powered blender such as a Blendtec, you can just go ahead and add both cups of water at once, without difficulty.)
Add your second cup of water (if you hadn't already done so!). Pour blender mixture into medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it becomes bubbly and thickened! (Photos 3 & 4)
Expert tip for making vegan cheeses:
Don't skip the step of rinsing or soaking the raw cashews, this helps soften them for an ultra-smooth vegan cheese, and gets rid of the cashew taste, giving this nacho cheese a truly realistic cheese flavor.
Devour this nacho sauce with:
- make vegan nachos with homemade chipotle tortilla chips, black beans, pico de gallo, and fresh cilantro
- steamed broccoli and baked potatoes
- vegan black bean taquitos
- deluxe vegan burgers
- potato wedges
- oven-roasted cauliflower
- almost any cheesy way you can think of, including this vegan refried bean dip!
How to re-heat this vegan nacho cheese sauce:
Re-warm this nacho cheese in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat stirring often, or microwave it!! It lasts for up to 5 days in a covered dish in the refrigerator, and freezes well for up to 4 months!
Add even more flavor:
Another fun way to add even more flavor (and spice!) to this nacho cheese sauce is to add a small (10 oz.) can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel) towards the end of the thickening process! Talk about a yummy nacho cheese dip! It's absolutely irresistible!
No oil option:
As an alternative to vegan margarine/butter you can add a teaspoon of Butter Flavor!
Other delicious vegan recipes:
- Vegan mozzarella cheese
- Vegan feta cheese
- Best easy blender salsa
- Vegan Pepper Jack Cheese
- Vegan smoked Gouda cheese
- Vegan herbed cheese
- Vegan cream cheese
- Black bean salad
- Vegan tofu and black bean tacos
If you’ve tried this, or any other recipe on my blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I LOVE hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and see what's keeping me busy!!
Vegan Nacho Cheese
- 2 cups water, divided
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- 2 oz canned pimientos, or ¼ cup
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch , may also use Tapioca Flour/Starch but increase amount by 1 Tbsp.
- 2 tablespoon vegan margarine/butter, optional (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon white or light miso paste
- 1.5 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, optional (see notes)
- Rinse cashews under hot running water for several minutes or soak in HOT water for 5 minutes and then rinse.
- Place rinsed cashews in blender. Add 1 cup of the water and all other remaining ingredients and blend on high until completely smooth.
- Add second cup of water and pour mixture into a med size pot.
- Whisk over med heat until thickened, about 8 minutes. Watch closely to avoid burning.
- Voila! Dip chips, serve as a side for baked potatoes, drizzle over maxi-bowls etc!
Hi what can I use if I don’t have pimentos? Thank you!!?
Canned red peppers (basically pimentos in a different size) are a great sub, or you could try fresh red pepper altho it won't give quite the same flavor or color. Hope that helps!
What seasoned salt do you use? I didn’t see that mentioned anywhere.
I usually use Johnny's as it is sold in bulk at my Costco, but other seasoned salts work well also....Hope that helps!
What can I use as a sub for miso paste?
No sub is needed. You'll be fine just leaving that ingredient out! Enjoy!
This sauce is amazing! It’s super easy to make and tastes great! THE BEST CHEESE SAUCE EVER!!!! Thank you so much 🙂
Aww! So glad you loved it! Thanks for the comment!
I don't have any seasoned salt - how much sea salt would I use? Would I need to add other spices such as paprika, mustard powder, or turmeric? (I've used those other spices in making other vegan cheddar cheese)
You can sub regular sea salt, just use 1/2 the amount in the recipe. I would recommend just leaving the other spices out and taste testing before adding anything else. Hope that helps!
Thanks for this recipe! The family enjoyed it! Even my 14 year old son loved it! Licking all the spoons and the small amount left on the spoon rest. We have a winner!
Thanks so much for letting me know that you liked the recipe! Love it when the whole family is on board with something! Woot woot!
Can't get my hands on pimientos here. I'm thinking on substituting so I'm wondering if your jar pimentios are preserved in vinegar or just in plain water? Thx!
Hi! My pimientos are canned in water. The water amount is really negligible and unnecessary for the recipe. If you can find canned red peppers that is the same thing. If not, fresh red pepper will be a good substitute.
Hi'a! Wondering if it could be frozen if it wasn't all consumed.
Hi! Thanks for the question. I actually haven't frozen it much! We usually consume it before that is needed. I don't think there should be any reason it wouldn't freeze well tho! Let me know if you try it!
I’m definitely making this today! How long does this last in the fridge?
Awesome! One week is usually the max that I keep it in my fridge. Have fun!
AMAZING. Tastes like the real deal. Everything about this cheese has me buzzing. From the texture, color, flavor, real ingredients.... leaves me wanting for nothing. Thank you so much Rebecca! You have helped me fill my junk food craving while keeping me healthy.
Thanks for your comment! So glad that you love it!! Def one of my favorites too!