Learn how to make vegan nacho cheese dip (or sauce) in under 20 minutes with this easy recipe. It’s made with cooked carrots, pre-soaked raw, unsalted cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, and is lightly spiced. This cashew cheese sauce has many versatile uses — it’s terrific with tacos, quesadillas, and more. It’s completely addictive and tastes remarkably like the real deal.
This dairy-free nacho dip is surprisingly simple to make and comes together quickly in your blender. It's nutritious, easy comfort food at its best, and it's totally plant-based! If you have someone who's hesitant to try vegan cheese alternatives, this is the recipe to convince them. Trust me! My husband is a huge nacho cheese lover and is not dairy-free, yet he begs me for this vegan cashew queso and gets genuinely excited whenever I make it for him!
This vegan nacho cheese recipe was a plant-based dip idea that has become a family favorite and we love it for nacho nights, as a dip, or even drizzled over broccoli (anything to make veggies exciting!). My daughter used to have a cashew allergy so I used to make this nut-free version for her. I also don't make it as spicy for my kids! That is what is so great about a homemade cheese sauce: you can customize the flavors and texture to your liking!
Ingredients in Vegan Nacho Cheese
You wouldn't believe that these ingredients come together to make a plant-based, dairy-free nacho cheese dip that tastes like the real deal. This is a must-try recipe that is somewhat life changing (if you are the type of person where plant-based appetizer ideas can change your life...which I totally am!). Here's what we're creating vegan nacho cheese with:
- Carrots - this gives the nacho cheese that perfect vibrant color!
- Cashews - I always use cashews when I need added creaminess.
- Nutritional yeast - This brings the cheese flavor big time!
- Garlic - You can use roasted garlic for even better flavor.
- Spices - onion powder, salt, cayenne, and chili powder.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
Most great vegan cheeses use nutritional yeast! It has this awesome nutty, cheesy flavor that makes the cheese taste like the real thing. If you haven't sprinkled nutritional yeast over your popcorn, you are missing out big time. It's an inactivated yeast that comes from the same family as brewer's yeast. Find it next to the spices in your local grocery store!
How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese
Like I mentioned, this vegan nacho queso is REALLY easy to make. I soak the cashews in advance, which helps the texture big time! Learn more about How (and Why!) to Soak Cashews in this post.
And for a complete guide covering the nutritional information and health benefits of cashews, see my post on Cashews Benefits for Vegans (+ Recipes).
The carrots need to be cooked until they're fork-tender, and then everything can be blended until it's deliciously smooth and creamy. Then comes the best part: taste testing and adjusting until it's absolutely perfect!
This recipe is soy-free, gluten-free and loaded with veggies which you just wouldn't expect at all in a dip that looks like the opposite of healthy. You can serve this as a dip or use it to make nachos. Here are some fun topping ideas if you go the nacho route: diced avocado, sliced olives, scallions, black beans, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, salsa, sliced or diced jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and hot sauce.
You also use this recipe as a layer of a vegan 7-layer dip or serve along with a vegan black bean dip or a vegan whipped feta dip. Definitely try this vegan nacho cheese with my Easy Sheet Pan Vegan Nachos. So good!
More Creamy Vegan Cheeses & Sauces
Homemade Vegan Ricotta Cheese
Easy Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
Easy Creamy Vegan Tahini Sauce
Three-Ingredient Vegan Homemade Honey Mustard
Easy Homemade Vegan Sour Cream
How to Make Coconut Whipped Cream
Easy Homemade Vegan Cashew Cream
Creamy Vegan Cilantro Lime Sauce
Learn how to make vegan nacho cheese dip (or sauce) in under 20 minutes with this easy recipe. It’s made with cooked carrots, pre-soaked raw, unsalted cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, and lightly spiced. This cashew cheese sauce has many versatile uses — it’s terrific with tacos, quesadillas, and more. It’s completely addictive and tastes remarkably like the real deal.
- 1 cup carrots, diced*
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews or slivered almonds**
- ½ cup water (or more if needed)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne (or more if you want more heat)
- ⅛ teaspoon chili powder (or more if you want more heat)
- Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and add carrots. Cook until fork tender (about 12 minutes). Drain and add to high speed blender.
- Add all other ingredients to a high speed blender and puree until smooth and creamy. You may need to thin with water 1 tablespoon at a time to reach your desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. You may want to add a squeeze of fresh lemon to help the flavors pop and for some acidity.
- Pour into a small serving bowl for dipping with chips. Garnish with jalapeno, sliced green onions, paprika and/or fresh cilantro.
* You can substitute peeled cooked sweet potatoes in place of carrots.
** Soak in water overnight or for a fast soak you can put them in a glass jar with boiling water and shut the lid. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. The longer they soak the creamier they are and the easier they are to digest. Learn more about How (and Why!) to Soak Cashews.
Click here for a nut-free version of this recipe.
You may want to microwave just before serving. Serve the cheese sauce on a plate warmer or with a pot-holder to lock in the warmth. The cheese sauce can also be used for making nachos.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 12 mins
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Vegan nacho cheese