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The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Recipe
Looking for the best vegan nacho cheese recipe? This cashew-based vegan nacho cheese sauce is truly epic! It’s easy to make, full of flavor and packed with healthy, familiar ingredients. It’s the perfect topping for vegan nachos, vegan enchiladas or as a dip for homemade soft pretzels or French fries!
What’s in This Vegan Nacho Cheese Recipe?
When I first started swapping out dairy products with vegan substitutes I was wary of vegan cheeses. The idea of leaving all that stretchy, savory, salty comfort behind was, for sure, a hurdle. I tried a few commercially made vegan cheeses, but it wasn’t until started making homemade vegan cheese that I really embraced the idea of vegan cheese.
Vegan cheese ingredients don’t have to be complicated, unfamiliar or processed. My favorite recipes use simple, recognizable ingredients like nuts, brown mustard, tomato paste, garlic, lemon juice and salt.
Cashew Cream Sauce: The Base of This Vegan Nacho Cheese Recipe
Nuts are a common base ingredient for a vegan cheese recipe. For this nacho cheese recipe, I used cashews. Cashews are naturally a soft nut, making them easy to blend into a creamy sauce. They are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat.
If you’d like to read more about vegan cooking with cashews, check out my blog post: How to Cook Vegan: Why Cashews Are King.
The Ingredients That Make This Vegan Nacho Cheese Recipe Savory and Spicy
Cashews make up the creamy base of this vegan nacho cheese recipe, but it’s the other ingredients that give it all the flavor. For example, spicy brown mustard and paprika provide tanginess and a hint of smoke. But what really makes this vegan nacho cheese recipe reminiscent of traditional nacho cheese is the addition of miso paste, tomato paste and garlic. They give it a richness popularly known as umami.
Not sure what umami is?
Umami is one of the five basic taste sensations. It’s just a cooler way of saying savory. Meats and cheeses are known to be rich with umami, but there are plenty of plant-based ingredients that meet this desire as well. Tomatoes, miso paste and garlic are a few of them.
Nutritional Yeast: A Staple in Any Vegan Cheese Recipe
Nutritional yeast is an important ingredient in most vegan cheese recipes. If you’re not familiar with it, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast. Affectionately called “nooch” in vegan circles, nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor. It’s also a good source of Vitamin B12, a nutrient essential in the development of red blood cells.
To read up on Nutritional Yeast, check out my article Vegan Cooking 101: What is Nutritional Yeast?
Putting This Vegan Nacho Cheese Recipe Together
This vegan nacho cheese recipe comes together really easily. I always soak my cashews first. They need about 30 minutes in hot water to soften them for blending. While they’re soaking, I’ll chop the red onion, peel the garlic and deseed the jalapeño. After that, it’s just a matter of putting it all in a high speed blender and blending until the nacho cheese sauce is smooth and creamy.
This vegan nacho cheese sauce stores well in the refrigerator for several days. It makes a great addition to vegan dishes like my Black Bean and Sweet Potato Vegan Enchiladas or my BBQ Black Bean Vegan Nachos. It’s also a great dipping sauce for chips, especially when mixed with your favorite salsa, or big pile of Homemade Soft Pretzels.
What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Vegan Nacho Cheese Recipe Easier?
Want to know what tools and resources I keep on hand to make my vegan cooking even easier? Here’s a short list of what helped me create this blog post and recipe. For the complete list, visit my Shop where you can find the kitchen gadgets I like as well as a list of books that I recommend.
Before I get into cooking, I want to share these napkins. I found these on Etsy over a year ago and, not only do I LOVE them, I buy them as gifts for nearly everyone I know.
These napkins are upcycled and reusable, allowing you to not only avoid throwing away paper products but to also reuse fabrics – a small but significant way to cut back on water, dyes and chemicals used in the production process.
These napkins are so darling (they come in lots of different patterns and colors) and they’re machine washable. I just throw them in with whatever load of laundry I’m doing. They don’t wrinkle easily, so a quick fold will have them back on your table doing what they were meant to do… be reused!