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This oil-free vegan nacho cheese uses soaked raw cashews, carrots, potatoes, nutritional yeast, spices, and pickled jalapeños for added flavor. We use a combination of vegetables and nuts to create a creamy dairy-free cheese sauce.
The bulk of the dip comes from potatoes and carrots as the base to reduce the amount of cashews needed. Then ½ cup of cashews is used for the fat to create a rich creamy texture.
This nacho cheese is kid-friendly and the number of jalapeños can be adjusted for heat. It’s rich, creamy, and great on potatoes, nachos, and roasted or steamed broccoli. If you like spicy dips, I also have this recipe for oil-free buffalo chickpea dip.
Raw cashews - Use raw unsalted cashews in this plant-based nacho cheese sauce, they add some fat to the dip which helps create a nice silky consistency.
Carrots - The carrots add a little color and a slight sweetness.
Potatoes -The potatoes add bulk to the sauce and reduce the need for so many cashews. Less fat and they’re cheaper. I use a russet potato or Yukon Gold.
Unsweetened dairy-free milk - Use any unsweetened unflavored dairy-free milk (avoid vanilla).
Lemon juice - Adds a little tang from the acidity.
Pickled jalapeños - Adds acidity, flavor, and some heat. I wouldn’t substitute with raw jalapeños, the pickled variety is milder and adds a tangy flavor. I use 6-8 pickled jalapenos, depending on how spicy I want the cheese sauce.
Turmeric - Adds more yellow color to the vegan nacho cheese.
Nutritional yeast - Adds cheesiness.
- Use a high-speed blender to get a smoother consistency.
- If you don’t have a high-speed blender, soak the cashews overnight or soak them longer with the boiling water method to soften them up to help your blender puree the nuts.
- Be careful blending hot ingredients. If needed, remove the feeder cap (small center cap of the blender lid) to release any pressure caused by blending hot foods. Place a clean towel over the lid to prevent splattering.
- Don't overcook the potatoes, just until fork tender. Prick the potato with a fork and it should give little resistance but the potato shouldn't break and slip off the fork with no effort.
There are a lot of ingredients, but it is very simple to put together. Soak the cashews overnight or boil water and pour it over the cashews and soak them for 10-15 minutes.
Next, place the potato and carrot in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the carrot/potato is fork-tender. Drain the vegetables and let them cool for just a few minutes before adding them to the blender.
Drain the cashews and add to the blender with the vegetables, along with all of the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
If the cheese sauce is still warm from the cooked potatoes and carrots, then there’s no need to warm it up. If it’s cooled down, you might want to warm it up in a pot for a couple of minutes.
The vegan nacho cheese sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but it will solidify after cooling. Just heat it back up in a pot and drizzle it on whatever your heart desires.
You can freeze vegan nacho cheese for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. If freezing in a jar, leave a couple of inches of room from the top to prevent the jar from cracking. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It will look a bit grainy when thawed, but once heated the cheese comes back together.
How to reheat
Reheat the cashew nacho cheese in a microwave-safe container until warm, stopping to stir so it warms evenly. It can also be reheated on the stovetop, stirring occasionally until it’s warmed through.
There are many ways to enjoy this oil-free vegan nacho cheese, but here are a few suggestions.
- Vegan nachos
- On roasted potatoes
- Vegan stuffed potatoes with cheese and broccoli
- Vegan hash brown casserole with broccoli
- Cheese fries (just top fries with a cheese sauce)
- Stuffed into fresh jalapeños then baked in the oven (homemade poppers)
- On pasta for mac and cheese
- As a dip for chips
- Drizzled on steamed or roasted broccoli
- Top lentil walnut tacos with the nacho cheese sauce
- Mix it with chili and macaroni for vegan chili mac
- Oil-free hummus
- Vegan guacamole
- Pico de Gallo
- Spicy peanut dressing
- Vegan curry chickpea salad
- Vegan honey mustard
- Buffalo chickpea dip (vegan)
As always, I hope you enjoy the vegan nacho cheese with potatoes and carrots! If you like the recipe, feel free to rate it and leave a comment.
This was originally published on February 12, 2019, and updated on March 1, 2022.Print
Vegan Nacho Cheese (Oil-Free)
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Diet: Vegan
This oil-free vegan nacho cheese recipe creates a creamy sauce using cashews, carrots, potatoes, nutritional yeast, spices, and pickled jalapeños for added flavor.
- 1 medium potato (½ lb, 226 g), peeled and cubed
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup (70 g) raw cashews (soaked)
- 1 cup (236 ml) unsweetened dairy-free milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric (for color)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 6-8 pickled jalapeños slices (depends on heat preference)
- Soak the cashews overnight or boil water then pour it over the cashews and soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Place the potato and carrot in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the carrot/potato is fork-tender.
- Drain the potato and carrot then add them to a blender.
- Drain the cashews and add to the blender, along with all of the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- If the cheese sauce is still warm from the cooked potatoes and carrots, then there’s no need to warm it up. If it’s cooled down, you might want to warm it up in a pot for a couple of minutes.
Be careful blending hot ingredients. If needed, remove the feeder cap (small center cap of the blender lid) to release any pressure caused by blending hot foods. Place a clean towel over the lid to prevent splattering.
If you don't have a high-speed blender you'll need to soak your cashews overnight.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Appetizer, Main Course
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: vegan nacho cheese with potatoes and carrots, oil free nacho cheese
Karen G. Caballero
Excellent recipe! I divided it in half, before adding the spices and added a bunch of fresh basil to half and then chipolte flakes to the other half. I loved it!
I'm so glad you like the recipe! Fresh basil and chipotle flakes are a good idea and sound delicious!
Thanks for such a yummy recipe. I really enjoyed the heat from the pickled jalapenos!
I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe and thanks for leaving a comment!