This oil-free vegan nacho cheese uses soaked raw cashews, carrots, potatoes, nutritional yeast, spices, and pickled jalapeños for added flavor. This has become my family’s favorite cheese recipe. I am so excited about how it turned out!
I've lost count on how many vegan cheese concoctions I have tested and wasn’t happy with. I use a combination of potatoes and carrots as the base and the fat from the cashews to create a rich creamy oil-free cheese sauce.
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.
Ingredients for Plant Based Nacho Cheese Sauce
Raw cashews - Use raw unsalted cashews, 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.
Nutritional yeast - Adds cheesiness.
How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese Without Oil
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, then add to a blender along with the rest of the ingredients (after draining I do let the potato carrot mixture cool for just a few minutes before adding them to the blender). I use a high-speed blender to get a smooth 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 up to help your blender puree the nuts.
How to Store the Dairy-Free Nacho Cheese
The 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. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It will look a bit grainy when thawed, but once heated the cheese comes back together.
How to Reheat Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce
Reheat 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.
More Ways to Use Oil-Free Vegan Nacho Cheese
- Vegan nachos
- On roasted potatoes
- Vegan baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli
- Vegan cheesy broccoli hash brown casserole
- Cheese fries (just top fries with a cheese sauce)
- Stuffed into jalapeños then baked in the oven (homemade poppers)
- On pasta for mac and cheese
- Steamed or roasted broccoli
More Oil-Free Vegan Dips
As always, I hope you enjoy the vegan nacho cheese with potatoes and carrots!
This was originally published on February 12, 2019, and updated on March 1, 2022.Print
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