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.
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!
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.
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!
Tips & Tricks
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
Fridge: The nacho cheese will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
Additional Dairy Free Sauces You Might Enjoy:
- Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce
- Dairy Free Sour Cream
- Dairy Free Pesto (3 Ways!)
- Homemade Thai Peanut Sauce
- Easy Peach Chipotle BBQ Sauce
- Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Dairy Free Avocado Dressing
Did you make this recipe? Rate and review it down below! I’d love to hear from you.
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.
- 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)
- Drain and rinse the cashews, then add to a high-speed blender along with all the other ingredients EXCEPT the diced tomatoes.
- Blend on high until completely smooth and creamy (stopping if needed to scrape down the sides), about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the drained diced tomatoes, if using.
- Taste and season with additional salt / pepper / hot sauce / or cayenne pepper as desired.
- 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.
*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.
What’s the best vinegar substitute for apple cider vinegar?
I’d go for either white distilled vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice – either will work just fine here!
What is the nutritional yeast used for? Can you substitute it, or it’s necessary for flavoring?
Hey Rebecca – the nutritional yeast adds “cheesy” flavor. There’s not really a good substitute … I think without it the dip would lack flavor and not be quite the same unfortunately!
Can I switch out the almond milk with just water or oat milk? I’m on a food sensitivity diet.. almonds are a no go for me for awhile.
Absolutely! Either will work just fine here (you could also use cashew milk or really any dairy free milk of choice). Hope you enjoy!
I cannot stop eating this — so good! I also tried adding red curry paste and it gave it a great layer of spicy-ness!
Love this so much!! I need to try adding some curry paste – that sounds awesome!
This came out amazing! My first time making a sauce with cashews! I soaked them with my instant pot to speed it up and it came out soooo yummy!
Yas! This totally made my day – so happy you enjoyed! 🙂
I adore cashews 🙂 That looks so silky creamy and yummy!