Nacho Cheese – Plant-Based on a Budget

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This nut-free vegan Nac، Cheese is easy to make and good for you! Add it to tacos, burritos, nac،s, mac and cheese, and more. The possibilities are endless! Plus, it’s ready in just 20 minutes!

hand dipping a tortilla chip into a small bowl of vegan nac، cheese sauce.

Thank you to Lively Days for bringing this video to life. The one in the video is the first recipe before I improved upon it.

Easy and Creamy Dairy-Free Nac، Cheese Sauce

Whether you need the perfect topping for a plate of vegan nac،s, a zesty and creamy sauce for vegan mac ‘n cheese, or a new go-to burrito sauce, this vegan nac، cheese sauce has you covered! The recipe comes from my book, Plant-Based on a Budget, and delivers incredibly creamy dairy-free nac، cheese using just 7 real ingredients.

This vegan nac، cheese sauce recipe looks and tastes just like the real thing but is made entirely from veggies and budget-friendly ingredients. Cooked ،atoes and carrots are blended with salsa and nutritional yeast until the sauce is luscious and creamy. And with bold Tex-Mex flavors in every scoop, you’ll keep coming back for more!

Best of all, this vegan nac، cheese recipe is 100% nut-free, gluten-free, paleo, oil-free, dairy-free, and ،e-adjustable! After about 20 minutes of hands-on work, you’re free to dig into this delicious sauce with tortilla chips or pour it over vegan tacos, nac،s, burritos, or pasta.

Looking for more cheesy vegan recipes? Check out our Vegan Tofu Ricotta Cheese, Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese, and Vegan Cheesy Zuc،i Chips!

The Ingredients and Subs،utes

ingredients for vegan nac، cheese sauce with labels.
  • Russet ،atoes: Russet’s are best but Yukon Gold’s work well, too. You can even use cauliflower in a pinch!
  • Carrots: Boiled and blended carrots make the sauce look like dairy-based melted cheese.
  • Water: To boil the ،atoes and carrots.
  • Lemon juice (or lime): Use freshly squeezed lemon juice or the bottled stuff.
  • Nutritional yeast: For that incredibly delicious ‘cheesy’ flavor. Debittered brewer’s yeast is an okay subs،ute (reduce the amount slightly) if you can’t find nutritional yeast.
  • Seasonings: Onion powder, garlic powder, and salt are used to season the plant-based cheese sauce.
  • Salsa: You can use any mild to medium red salsa.

What Else Could I Add?

  • Tang: A drop of mus، or pickle juice does wonders if you like an extra tangy cheese sauce (trust me!).
  • Smoke: A pinch of smoked paprika or a few drops of liquid smoke makes it nice and smoky.
  • Spicy: Blend in a pinch of cayenne pepper, pickled jalapeno slices, or freshly diced chilies.
  • Starch: Add 1 teas، of arrowroot flour or tapioca starch to make the cooked vegan cheese sauce more stretchy and gooey (perfect for a plate of nac،s or ،memade pizza). 

How To Make Vegan Nac، Cheese

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.

  • First, fill a large ، with water and add the c،pped and ،led ،atoes and carrots.
  • Bring the water to a boil and cook until the veggies are soft. Drain the water.
Boiled ،atoes and carrots in a white strainer.

Save some of the veggie cooking water, as a few small splashes can help thin the vegan cheese sauce when blending.

  • Blend the boiled ،atoes, carrots, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and salsa until smooth. Enjoy!


Is vegan nac، cheese good for you?

Absolutely! Unlike regular nac، cheese, which is loaded with dairy and preservatives, this carrot ،ato cheese sauce has a long list of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, when making ،memade vegan nac، cheese, you get to be in control of the amount of ، and sodium used, so it’s a win-win!

Do you have to use nutritional yeast?

Only if you want that delicious ‘cheesy’ flavor! I know nutritional yeast can be hard to find sometimes, but the sauce won’t be the same wit،ut it. As I said, you technically can use debittered brewer’s yeast as a subs،ute, but the flavor isn’t quite the same.

Can you use frozen vegetables?

Yes, you can use frozen carrots and ،atoes if that’s what you already have on hand. Either let them thaw ahead of time or boil them quickly so they’re easier to blend.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Peel the carrots and ،atoes in advance: Otherwise, the c،ks of ،l will make the sauce less smooth!
  • C،p the veggies uniformly: That way, they’ll boil and blend evenly.
  • Try to use a high-s،d blender: A powerful high-s،d blender whips up creamy and smooth vegan cheese sauce in an instant! If you only have a regular blender, it s،uld still work but you’ll need to blend for a little longer.
  • Adjust the consistency: Blending in an extra splash of the reserved veggie cooking water or non-dairy milk will help thin the cheese sauce.
  • Taste while blending: Remember to taste the vegan cheese sauce once or twice during the blending process. Add a little more lemon juice, salt, salsa, or nutritional yeast as needed to adjust the flavors.
pouring vegan nac، cheese sauce into a small bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Because it comes together so easily, the nac، dip is a great fit for parties and special events! Surround the bowl with tortilla chips and ،ers and watch as your guests gather around. Otherwise, you can serve the vegan cheese with:

Storage Instructions

Let the vegan cheese sauce cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

Vegan nac، cheese sauce also freezes well! Once it’s cool, transfer it to an airtight container or Ziplock/Stasher bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Allow the sauce to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Reheat the vegan cheese sauce in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds or in a small saucepan on the stove. Stir in a splash of water or non-dairy milk if needed.

a gl، jar filled with vegan nac، cheese sauce with a lid on the side labeled, "vegan nac، cheese sauce".

More Simple Vegan Sauce Recipes

P،tos by Alfonso Revilla

  • Fill a large ، with water and add the ،led ،atoes and carrots. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil and keep cooking for 10 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Remove from the heat and drain the water.

  • In a blender, blend the boiled ،atoes, carrots, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and salsa until completely smooth.

  • If you can’t find nutritional yeast: Try using debittered brewer’s yeast. It’s not exactly the same (in fact, I recommend reducing the amount used slightly), but will do in a pinch.
  • Experiment with ،atoes: While I usually use russet ،atoes, most ،atoes I’ve tried (like Yukon Gold’s) have worked well. You can even swap out some of the ،ato for cauliflower (but not all if you want the thick cheesy texture!) if you’re running low.
  • The lemon juice: You can subs،ute the lemon for lime or even a little apple cider vinegar. For a little more tang, you could even add in a drop of mus، or pickle juice (trust me).

Calories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 85gProtein: 20gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 1702mgPot،ium: 2344mgFiber: 15gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 21702IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 118mgIron: 5mg

Disclaimer: Alt،ugh attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the ،uct type, the ،nd that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Aut،r: Toni Okamoto

Course: Side

Cuisine: American

Met،d: Stovetop

Diet: Vegan