Dairy Free Nacho Cheese

Can’t do dairy but LOVE queso? Then try this incredible dairy free nacho cheese! Rich, creamy and silky smooth, it’s fantastic served with tons of tortilla chips OR used as a sauce for meals. Easy to make, packed with flavor and ready in 10 minutes or less, it’s also vegan and gluten free.

Dairy Free Nacho Cheese on a platter with chips.

One of my FAVORITE dishes to order at mexican restaurants before going dairy free? 

A giant vat of queso + loads and loads of tortilla chips. 

But when you can no longer eat any kind of dairy, that appetizer is a big fat no go.

Which brings us to today. And this dreamy dairy free nacho cheese. 

That’s so darn delicious I promise you won’t even think about that restaurant queso ever again. Bold statement, I know.

Here’s why I think you’ll love it:

  • It’s rich, creamy and silky smooth.
  • It’s made with a few simple ingredients in 10 minutes or less.
  • And it’s filled with warm spices + just the right amount of “cheesy” flavor.

Even my cheese-eating family members couldn’t keep their paws off this dip. It’s just that good! 

Cashews, spices and almond milk in bowls.

How To Make Dairy Free Nacho Cheese

So, let’s chat about how this simple sauce goes down:

Soak cashews. First up, we’ll soak some cashews overnight (or use a 30 minute quick soak method).

Add everything to a blender. Next, we’ll drain and rinse the cashews, then add to a blender along with some almond milk, spices, vinegar, hot sauce and dijon.

Process until smooth. We’ll blend it all up for about 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth and creamy.

Stir in diced tomatoes. Finally, we’ll stir in some optional drained diced tomatoes, for that queso-like feel. 

You can enjoy right away or warm slightly before using. 

Ingredients in a blender and then fully blended.

How To Serve

Need some ideas for how to put this dreamy sauce to good use? I got you covered.

  • go classic and serve with lots of tortilla chips
  • use on dairy free nachos
  • drizzle over baked potatoes
  • toss with pasta for a sort of southwest mac and cheese
  • use as a dip for fries or sweet potato fries
  • or as a sauce for tacos or taco bowls 

Side note – depending on how you’re planning to use this nacho cheese, you can omit the optional diced tomatoes (i.e. if you don’t want that slightly chunky texture). I always use them but you do you!

Dairy Free Cheese Dip in a bowl with diced tomatoes.

Tips & Tricks

  1. If you forget to soak your cashews overnight, use the following quick soak method instead. Add the cashews to a heatproof bowl, then cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then proceed with the recipe.
  2. I HIGHLY recommend using a high speed blender as the cashews will blend up so smooth and creamy. You can certainly try using a regular one, just keep in mind it will take longer to smooth out and won’t have quite as perfect of a consistency (I’ve found cashew based sauces can be a bit grainy in texture with a regular blender).
  3. If you don’t want any kick in your sauce, be sure to use MILD diced tomatoes with green chilis (versus regular). Additionally, you can omit the hot sauce if desired, although I find it really just adds an extra layer of flavor rather than heat.
  4. The sauce will thicken up ever so slightly if you choose to warm it before serving. If needed, whisk in a little extra almond milk or water to thin it out to your desired consistency. 

How To Store

The nacho cheese will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Dairy Free Queso on a platter with tortilla chips.

Additional Dairy Free Sauces You Might Enjoy:

Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.

Dairy Free Nacho Cheese on a platter with chips.

Dairy Free Nacho Cheese

Yield: about 2 ¼ cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Can’t do dairy but LOVE queso? Then try this incredible dairy free nacho cheese! Rich, creamy and silky smooth, it’s fantastic served with tons of tortilla chips OR used as a sauce for meals. Easy to make, packed with flavor and ready in 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked overnight*
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (optional for color)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained well (optional)

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse the cashews, then add to a high-speed blender along with all the other ingredients EXCEPT the diced tomatoes. 
  2. Blend on high until completely smooth and creamy (stopping if needed to scrape down the sides), about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the drained diced tomatoes, if using. 
  4. Taste and season with additional salt / pepper / hot sauce / or cayenne pepper as desired.
  5. Enjoy as is or warm gently before serving. You can do this on the stovetop using low heat or in the microwave, stirring frequently either way. If the cheese ever becomes too thick, add in a splash or so more almond milk to get it to your desired consistency.

Notes

*Add the cashews to a small bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. If you forget, a quick soak method is included in the tips & tricks section in the post above.

Be sure to check the ingredients on your hot sauce and mustard to make sure they are dairy free / gluten free / grain free / soy free, etc. as needed for your diet!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 143Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 384mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 6g

Nutrition data shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator and is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for a medical professional’s advice.