AppetizersRecipesSauces - Condiments - Dressings

Spicy Vegan Nacho Cheese (Gluten-Free)

posted by Melissa Huggins January 4, 2017 21 Comments
This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too.

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It’s easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. 

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. I used to love nacho cheese on everything – if it was on the menu, it was in my belly! However, it often left my stomach bloated and hurting afterward. I just dealt with it, because I didn’t want to ruin my “fun”. I never thought about the processed ingredients or the cruelty, but now I can truly have fun in a much healthier and kinder way with this Vegan Nacho Cheese.

I know what some of you might be thinking, but I promise this is close to the real deal (better in my opinion). Dairy isn’t needed to make a dip that is melty, stretchy, tangy and cheesy tasting. Nature has gifted the earth with a variety of kind foods that are colorful, flavorful and nutritious. So, we can leave the cow’s milk for the baby cows.

I’ll be making this Vegan Nacho Cheese on game day, along with my Vegan Mozzarella Sticks, these Fried Olives Stuffed w/ Roasted Garlic and my Finger Lickin’ Good Cauliflower Wings. I’m not even a big sports fan, but it’s a perfect excuse to pig out and have some vegan beer with friends.

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. So, what’s in this Vegan Nacho Cheese that makes it so “cheesy”?

The star of this show is butternut squash (boiled, steamed or roasted) and it gives this nacho cheese a buttery texture, and leaves it with a beautiful nacho cheese color. Not to mention, you’ll be adding a full serving of vegetables to a typically unhealthy recipe. Don’t worry, they’ll never know they’re in there 😉

Next up, are the ever-magical raw cashews. They will make this cheesy dip super creamy, thick, rich and will pack some protein in there, too. Just soak them in water for 2-4 hours to soften (or overnight), or you can soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes to make it faster.

Along with that, I added unsweetened non-dairy milk for extra creaminess and vegetable broth for added flavor and depth. To create the spicy, tangy & cheesy nacho flavor, I added jarred jalapeños, jalapeño brine, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and tapioca starch/flour.

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. It’s so easy to make

All you need to do now, is throw it all into a high-speed blender and blitz it until smooth. Then place it in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, and in under five minutes, the sauce will thicken and become gooey and slightly stretchy. Now you’re on your way to Vegan Nacho Cheese heaven!

Top with some fresh-cut cilantro, diced tomatoes, and serve warm alongside crispy tortilla chips, lime wedges and sliced jalapeños.

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. So how does it taste?

This nacho cheese is on the spicy side, but it’s definitely easy to modify. Just cut down on the jalapeños and brine, or just leave it out all together. Feel free to add more if you like it spicier, or add a pinch of cayenne powder to the mix.

Besides the heat, this nacho cheese has a great balance of tangy, savory and sharp flavors. Your taste buds won’t even know what hit ’em!

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. The texture is:

Velvety-smooth
Creamy
Ooey-gooey
Melty
Stretchy
Dreamy
Cheesy

This cheesy sauce is perfect for dipping, but you can add it to loaded nachos, baked potatoes, veggies, sandwiches, mac & cheese, veggie, burgers, veggie dogs, casseroles, soups and more. The options are endless.

Also, it will stay good in the fridge for 3-5 days. Just reheat on the stove, and add a few splashes of vegetable broth. It does freeze well too, but I never get that far. This stuff is too good for keeping… it’s for eating!

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too.
Alright, are you guys ready? Grab your chips and lets do this! Oh, don’t forget the vegan beer 😉

Serves 4-6

Spicy Vegan Nacho Cheese

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too.

10 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

25 minTotal Time

Save Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4 hours, or overnight *See note
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled & chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or any plant-based milk)
3/4 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon tapioca flour/starch
1 tablespoon jarred jalapeño slices *See note
1 tablespoon jarred jalapeño brine
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice (I used 2 tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. Steam or boil the butternut squash until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  2. Drain & rinse cashews and discard water.
  3. Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes (mixture will look runny).
  4. Pour mixture into a medium pot and place over medium heat. Stir often, so it doesn’t stick or burn. Scrape the sides and bottom, as needed. It will get a little clumpy, but it with smooth out as it heats up.
  5. When the cheese starts to thicken up, place heat on medium-low. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed. When it becomes stretchy, smooth and thick, remove from heat. This whole process should take about 5-6 minutes. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

Prep time doesn't include soaking time for cashews.

*To speed up soaking time for cashews: in a small pot, boil water and remove from heat. Add cashews and cover for 10-15 minutes, until softened.

*For a mild flavor, omit the jalapeños and the brine or cut amount in half. For a spicier flavor, add more jalapeños, or add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

If you'd like a thicker cheese sauce, add 1 teaspoon of tapioca flour/starch while it's cooking. For a thinner sauce, add a few teaspoons of vegetable broth.

For a more yellow cheese color, add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder. No more than that, or it will change the flavor too much.

Top with some fresh-cut cilantro, diced tomatoes, and serve warm alongside crispy tortilla chips, lime wedges and sliced jalapeños.

If you'll be leaving the cheese out for a crowd. It's best to serve it in a food warmer to keep the cheese smooth & warm.

To reheat: Place in medium pot and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add a few splashes of vegetable broth to thin it out a little. Stir often to prevent burning and sticking.

http://veganhuggs.com/vegan-nacho-cheese/

 This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too. If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me, Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs.

*Pin for later

This Vegan Nacho Cheese is creamy, spicy, tangy and full of mouth-watering flavor! It's easy to prepare and filled with wholesome ingredients, too.

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21 Comments

Erin from Long Island January 6, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Will omitting the jalapenos and brine make it too thick without the liquid they provide?

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 6, 2017 at 9:18 pm

Hi Erin, No, it won’t change much at all, but if you feel it’s too thick, just add a tablespoon of vegetable broth while cooking. Stir in well. Thank you for stopping by. I grew up on Long Island (Patchogue). I hear more vegan places are opening up there. SO cool!

Reply
Erin from Long Island January 7, 2017 at 9:10 pm

Oh that’s perfect, thanks! And yeah, lots of great places here. If you plan to visit and need recommendations, feel free to ask me!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:48 pm

That’s awesome! So glad LI is more vegan friendly now. I will definitely need advice when I visit again. Thank you for the offer. 🙂

Reply
Becky Striepe January 9, 2017 at 9:30 am

Oh my gosh, this looks so good! I might try it without the jalapenos, too, since my kid is sadly spice-averse. But he is very pro-cheese!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Thank you, Becky! I used to hate spicy foods when I was a kid too. Now I’m an addict. 🙂

Reply
Ginny McMeans January 9, 2017 at 9:31 am

Love this! I bet the butternut squash really adds a great depth of flavor.

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Thank you, Ginny! It really does! It’s such a versatile vegetable 🙂

Reply
Mary Ellen @ VNutrition January 9, 2017 at 11:45 am

This looks soooo good Melissa! I used to be the same way – anything on the menu with cheese I ordered and then felt gross afterwards. I’m so happy to find vegan alternatives like this!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Thank you, Mary Ellen. Vegan alternatives are way tastier and so much healthier 🙂

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Dianne's Vegan Kitchen January 9, 2017 at 6:22 pm

I love that you made with this with healthy squash!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Thank you, Dianne! 🙂

Reply
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day January 9, 2017 at 8:43 pm

This looks so delicious, Melissa! I know this nacho cheese will be a hit in my house!

Reply
Jenn January 10, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Oh my gosh, this looks sooo good! I’ve been meaning to turn my Butternut Mac sauce into a nacho cheese sauce for quite some time now. You basically just did it for me! LOL! I seriously want to lick that bowl clean!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Thank you, Jenn! We use it as a mac & cheese sauce too (without the spice). So great how interchangeable it is.

Reply
Mel |avirtualvegan.com January 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

I am loving this! Anything cheesy and I’m in. It looks so thick and creamy. I am loving your baking tray too. Ive been wanting one like that for my photos for ages!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Thank you, Mel! I found the tray at a second hand store. I love it! 🙂

Reply
Sarah January 12, 2017 at 11:03 pm

This cheese sauce is gorgeous! It would make a spectacular plate of nachos!!!

Reply
Melissa Huggins January 14, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Thank you, Sarah! It’s great for loaded nachos. We might make them tonight. I’ve been craving them.

Reply
Lisa February 2, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Can I use frozen butternut squash?

Reply
Melissa Huggins February 2, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Hi Lisa, I’ve never tried it with frozen before. I think it would generate more moisture, but it still might work. I wish I could be more help. I’d love to hear how it turns out for you, if you make it. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

Reply

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