Vegan Nacho Cheese

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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This vegan nacho cheese is dairy-free, easy to make, and totally delicious. With sweet potato, coconut milk, nutritional yeast, and a magical mix of other ingredients, this “cheese” is great on nachos or as a companion to your favorite crunchy dipper!

a wooden cutting board with a bowl of vegan nacho cheese and hand fried corn tortilla chips sitting on top of it

First off, I want you to know that this recipe is easy peasy. Making your own vegan cheese sounds *so* much more difficult than it is. This nacho cheese calls for just 6 ingredients and takes just 15 minutes to make! Spread it out over some loaded chips to make nachos (like we did on these loaded carnitas nachos) or pour it into a slow cooker with a cup of pico de gallo for a vegan twist on the classic queso party dip. Just like regular nacho cheese, this melted cheese is best when hot; when it cools, it will thicken, so keep it warm for the best texture!

Why is this the best vegan nacho cheese?

This vegan nacho cheese is the *best* for 3 major reasons. It tastes like the real deal, it’s incredibly easy to make, and it’s allergy-friendly.

  • It tastes like real-deal nacho cheese – the signature cheese flavor is made possible by one of our favorite pantry superfoods: nutritional yeast! Nutritional yeast (not the same thing as the yeast used in bread-baking) is loaded with B-Vitamins and just happens to be really delicious! With a little kitchen wizardry, the yeast takes on a signature nacho cheese flavor.
  • It’s easy – this recipe calls for just 6 ingredients and takes 15 minutes from start to finish!
  • It’s allergy-friendly – not only is it dairy-free, it’s also nut-free, unlike many other vegan cheese recipes!
all of the ingredients for vegan nacho cheese sitting on a light colored surface

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this *yummy* vegan nacho cheese. Do note that we added 2 optional ingredients to this list, but feel free to leave those out if you’d like!

  • Sweet Potato – 1 large sweet potato makes up the base of our cheese (and gives it its signature yellow/orange color!). Go ahead and peel your sweet potato, then cut it into 1 to 2-inch thick chunks.
  • Coconut Cream – you’ll also need the solid cream from 1 (13.5-ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk.
  • Nutritional Yeast – 2/3 cup of nutritional yeast flakes adds a nutritional punch and gives our cheese its signature cheesy flavor!
  • Lemon Juice – 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon) brightens up the nacho cheese, while…
  • Sea Salt – …a 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt and…
  • Garlic Powder – …a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder add some additional flavor.
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional) – if you like spice, we recommend garnishing your nacho cheese with red pepper flakes,and…
  • Pico de Gallo (optional) – …if you plan on making this recipe into a party dip, go ahead and grab 1 cup of fresh pico de gallo as a Rotel substitute!
a large pot of chopped sweet potatoes in water with a small plate of chopped sweet potatoes and a knife next to it
a large pot of vegan nacho cheese with a person holding an immersion blender over it
a large pot of vegan nacho cheese topped with pico de gallo and a wooden spoon sticking out of it

How to Make Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

I’ve said it over and over again, but this cheese really is *so* easy! Here’s how you’ll go from 6 simple ingredients to a vegan nacho cheese that’ll WOW even the most skeptical:

  1. Boil the Sweet Potatoes – place the peeled sweet potato chunks into a small pot and cover with water. Cover the pot with a lid, place it on the stove over medium heat, bring the water to a boil, and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces are easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water off the potatoes.
  2. Blend – 
    • Immersion Blender Option: return the drained pot of potatoes to the stove and place over low to medium heat. Add *half* of the coconut cream and the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Use an immersion (or “stick blender”) to blend the nacho cheese until it’s completely smooth and creamy. Add more coconut milk cream to the pot, blending as you go, until it has a consistency you like. Transfer to a slow cooker set on the “warm” setting for a party dip or keep covered and warm on the stove until serving.
    • Food Processor/Blender Option: place the drained potatoes in a food processor or blender. Add *half* of the coconut cream and the rest of the ingredients to the food processor/blender. Blend the nacho cheese until it’s completely smooth and creamy. Add more coconut milk cream, blending as you go, until it has a consistency you like. Transfer to a slow cooker set on the “warm” setting for a party dip or return to the stove to keep covered and warm until serving.
  3. Stir in the Pico de Gallo (optional) – stir in the fresh pico de gallo for a dip.

*Note that the size of the sweet potato you use will have an impact on the consistency of the dip – just keep playing with it, adding more coconut milk/water, until you get a consistency you like!

a sheet pan of hand fried corn tortilla chips topped with vegan nacho cheese, pico de gallo, and cilantro

What to use your vegan nacho cheese sauce on?

Use this vegan nacho cheese the same way you would the traditional stuff! Spread it over loaded nachos, dip your favorite tortilla chips in it (the tortilla chips pictured are homemade hand-cut corn tortillas fried in coconut oil), top a loaded BBQ baked potato with it…the sky’s the limit! 

How To Store Vegan Nacho Sauce

Store your cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stored this way, it will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator. Also know that you can absolutely freeze extra for later!

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Vegan Nacho Cheese

 

With sweet potato, coconut milk, nutritional yeast, and a magical mix of other ingredients, this “cheese” is great on nachos or as a companion to your favorite crunchy dipper!

  • Author: Cassy
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 to 2-inch thick chunks
  • solid cream from 1 (13.5 ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes, for garnish, optional
  • 1 cup fresh pico de gallo (rotel substitute), optional

Instructions

  1. Place the peeled sweet potato chunks into a small pot and cover with water. Cover with a lid and place on the stove over medium heat. Bring the water to a boil and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces are easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water off the potatoes.
  2. Immersion blender option: return the drained pot of potatoes to the stove and place over low/medium heat. Add HALF of the coconut milk and the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Use an immersion (or “stick blender”) to blend the nacho cheese until it’s completely smooth and creamy. Add more coconut milk cream to the pot, blending as you go, until it has a consistency you like. Transfer to a crockpot over “warm” setting for a party dip or keep covered and warm on the stove until serving.
  3. Food processor (or blender) option: place the drained potatoes in a food processor or blender. Add HALF of the coconut milk and the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Blend the nacho cheese until it’s completely smooth and creamy. Add more coconut milk cream, blending as you go, until it has a consistency you like. Transfer to a crockpot over “warm” setting for a party dip or return to the stove to keep covered and warm until serving.
  4. Optional: stir in 1 cup of fresh pico de gallo for a dip and/or garnish with red pepper flakes.
  5. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days in a sealed container. Be sure to warm thoroughly again before serving.

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  1. Amanda says:

    This looks amazing! Do you think it would work with a white potato instead of the sweet potato? I am allergic to sweet potatoes.

  2. Jamie says:

    Why substitute rotel? What is in them that is bad? Is it the preservatives?

  3. Allison says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I have tested several things with my nutritional yeast that i’ve had for a while. Do you know if it ever loses flavor? I’ve had some total wins with nutritional yeast and some not-so-delish outcomes (never bad, just not the cheesy flavor) I know that my red pepper flakes can lose some heat if they’re in my pantry for a while!

  4. Cassy, this looks great, you little genius! I’m glad you overcame your obstacle. I have been waiting to see a recipe that looked so appealing that it could make me get over my aversion to the sound of “nutritional yeast.” I think I may have found it! LOL

    I will let you know if I make this. Thanks for all of your hard work and tenacity!

    1. Took me a looooong time to try this recipe! But I did it! All I can say is GAME CHANGER. And that is a lot coming from someone whose Friday night family tradition is Tex Mex. (ps: add some ground beef with carmelized onion. Whoa)

  5. Laura says:

    Love you Cassy! Can’t wait to try this.

  6. Amanda says:

    I made this over the weekend to go with some enchilada’s and it was SO GOOD! I raved about it all weekend to my friends. This will definitely be a go-to cheese sub! Thanks 🙂

  7. alyssa says:

    You go, girl! I love the idea of this and I like what you wrote even more!

  8. Phoebe says:

    I love the creative use of sweet potatoes in the this recipe! I’m putting this on my “must try” list! Thank you!

    1. Cassy says:

      Awesome!

  9. Sylvia says:

    I followed a link from Paleomg https://paleomg.com/bacon-cheeseburger-meatloaf/ and had to thank her for sending me here and you for creating something so amazing! I discovered my allergy to all things based on cow milk way back in my twenties (in the Stone Age LOL) before I ever had a chance to try nachos. In a way it was all for the best – dairy is not all the industry tries to make it out to be, as we all know, and over the years I learned to get around as a dairy-free person in a dairy-glutted world. This, however, will finally give me a chance to treat myself occasionally to something everyone has been raving about 😉

  10. Karen Lazowski says:

    Is only the cream from the coconut milk used or the entire can of milk and cream?

  11. Karra says:

    Should this be a white sweet potato or orange?

  12. Erin says:

    Hi! I would love to make this but coconut cream (canned coconut milk) is not available in my country. Coconut milk here comes in a glass bottle and never solidifies- not sure if it’s a bit watered down or what. I can tolerate dairy. Consistency-wise would you recommend using coconut milk that’s not quite creamy, or some type of dairy substitute (heavy cream etc)? Thank you!

  13. Katherine says:

    So, so good! I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get my family to eat this but now that I’ve tried it I’m not so sure I want to share it with them.

  14. Brooke Heck says:

    How much (in oz or grams) sweet potato do I use? Medium is a relative term. 😉

  15. Sharon Wright says:

    Would this freeze well?