Dairy Free Nacho Cheese

This dairy free nacho cheese sauce is a delicious alternative to traditional cheese sauce. This sauce is perfect served with tortilla chips and guacamole as a vegan appetizer for a New Year’s Eve or game day parties. It’s rich, creamy, a little spicy, and loaded with flavor.

Main ingredients

Nutritional yeast is what gives this sauce its “cheesy” flavor. It’s an ingredient that’s often used in vegan versions of dishes such as mac and cheese, spinach and artichoke dip, and pesto. You can find nutritional yeast at many grocery stores and health food stores or you can order it online.

Cashews give this cheese sauce its creamy texture without overpowering the other flavors in this recipe. In order to achieve the perfect luscious, creamy consistency, the cashews must be soaked first to soften them before draining, rinsing, and blending them up in the sauce.

Pickled jalapeños add a little zing and spice to this vegan cashew cheese sauce, but you can omit them if you prefer a milder sauce.

Pureed pumpkin adds body and color to the sauce. You can substitute pureed carrots or butternut squash instead of pumpkin if you prefer. Just steam or roast the veggies until tender, then purée them before adding them to the sauce. 

Cheese sauce and blue corn chips on a plate.

How to make this dairy free nacho cheese

This cheese sauce is quick and easy to make. Start by adding the cashews to a bowl, then add enough boiling water to the bowl to completely submerge the cashews. Let the cashews soak in the water for one hour, then drain and discard the soaking liquid and rinse the cashews.

Next you’ll add the cashews to a food processor or blender along with the pumpkin purée, cold water, nutritional yeast, pickled jalapeños, salt, and garlic. Process or blend until smooth and creamy. Serve warm or at room temperature with tortilla chips or raw veggies for dipping.

What to serve this with

This dairy free nacho cheese sauce is delicious drizzled on top of tacos or nachos. You could also use this as a sauce for dairy free mac and cheese. Or use it as a dipping sauce for steamed broccoli or cauliflower. Another tasty way to use this sauce is drizzled on top of baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Add other toppings too such as black beans and scallions to create a filling and delicious loaded potato.

Storage

Store this dairy free nacho cheese sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Cheese sauce next to some chips.

More appetizer recipes to try

Dairy Free Nacho Cheese

This dairy free nacho cheese sauce is an easy, vegan alternative to traditional cheese sauce. It's loaded with flavor and has a satisfying, creamy consistency.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 7
Calories 114kcal

Equipment

  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Boiling water (to soak the cashews – use enough to submerge the cashews completely)

Instructions

  • Add the cashews to a bowl, then add enough boiling water to the bowl to completely submerge the cashews.
  • Let the cashews soak in the water for one hour, then drain and discard the soaking liquid and rinse the cashews.
  • Add the cashews to a food processor or blender along with the pumpkin purée, cold water, nutritional yeast, pickled jalapeños, salt, and garlic.
  • Process or blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with tortilla chips or raw veggies for dipping.

Notes

  • Store this dairy free nacho cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Nutrition

Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 189mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2724IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 2mg

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