Ok friends, this is it. After all of the love for my Melty Stretchy Gooey Vegan Mozzarella, it's time for a follow-up act: Melty Stretchy Gooey Vegan Nacho Cheese. (I know, I am just so incredibly original with the new name).
With the help of reader Amanda (hi Amanda!), I toyed around with different spices and flavours to achieve a cheddar-like cheese recipe. No small task, especially when you don't eat cow's milk cheddar to compare. With a little zing and zang, salty and sweet, ooey and gooey, I managed to achieve... are you ready for it?...nacho heaven. Big plate of nachos featuring Vegan Nacho Cheese! Hello again, Nachos. Oh, how I missed you. Now I will devour you!
This recipe is good for more than just nachos. You can load up a baked potato, make a grilled cheese, layer on a veggie patty for a melty cheeseburger, or stir into noodles for quick mac and cheese. Anywhere that you would use melted cheddar cheese, you can now use this recipe.
Do you want more good news? Of course you do. It's oil, gluten, and dairy free, only 150 calories per serving, omnivores love it, over 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and only 15 minutes to make. Vegan high fives all around!
Can we see another shot of this ooey, gooey, melty-ness. Ahhh.... there we go.
Notes about this cheese:
- You have to use tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour). Corn starch, potato starch or any other starch won't have the same stretchy quality. If you can't find tapioca starch in your grocery store, you can always order it online here. If you have tapioca pearls, you can use a coffee grinder or a high powered blender to grind them into a homemade batch of tapioca starch.
- You can store the leftover cheese in an airtight container in the fridge and it should last for several days. This cheese will never turn into a solid block. It will always remain in a melty state. If you want to return the cold nacho cheese back to dipping consistency, reheat over medium heat while stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Once it is hot and bubbling it might have thickened up too much. You can thin it out by adding a tablespoon of water at a time, stirring it in until desired consistency is reached.
- Please beware, once you make a batch, you will probably eat the whole thing in one sitting. Don't say I didn't warn you!
To make this nacho cheese, first start by soaking the cashews for four hours or overnight. OR if you need to eat this immediately (and I always do), you can skip the soaking, and instead boil the cashews for 10 minutes until soft and tender, then drain before using. Sneaky deaky cashew softening trick.
Toss all the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth. It will be very watery, don’t worry, it will get cheesy!
If you don't have a high powered blender, you may want to pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into the pot to remove any cashew bits that didn't grind up. This will ensure a smooth cheese texture.
Put the pan over medium-high heat. Stir to keep anything from burning. You will start to see clumps forming.
Ooo clumpy. Keep stirring!
Then all of a sudden, magic! Everything comes together and makes this cheesy, melty, deliciousness. Keep stirring and cooking for another minute or two, to make sure it’s finished firming up. It should take about 5 minutes to cook total. That’s it! Done. So easy.
Melty Stretchy Gooey Vegan Nacho Cheese
- ½ cup raw cashews, (see notes)
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch, (also called tapioca flour)
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, (or to taste)
- 1 ½ teaspoons white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- To soften the cashews: Boil them for 10 minutes until soft. OR soak the cashews for four hours or overnight. Drain before using.
- To make the nacho vegan nacho cheese: Add the softened cashews, water, and all the remaining ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. It will be very watery.
- Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, while stirring. If you don't have a high-powered blender, you may want to pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into the pot, to remove any cashew bits that didn't grind up. This will ensure a smooth cheese texture. As you stir it will start forming clumps, and then all of a sudden it will become a cheesy gooey mass of yumminess. This takes about 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir for an additional minute or two to make sure it has firmed up completely.
Debbie M says
I made this, and it was awesome. However, because of having CKD, cashews don't like me. So I'm wondering, is it possible to replace the cashews with a potato for this recipe?
Sam, I’ve easily made over 100 recipes written by you. I can count on your recipes to always taste delicious and perform exactly as you describe. You are one of the websites I return to most often as I plan my family’s meals each week. For these reasons I am baffled as to why the Nacho Cheese recipe does not work for me. I’ve made it twice and both times yielded delicious tasting cheese, but never did the cheese turn out stretchy, gooey, or saucy enough to drizzle onto nachos.
The first time I made it, I followed your recipe exactly. My cheese came out so clumped up, I added between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of soy milk to try to get it to a useable consistency.
The second time I made it, I followed your recipe exactly, except I added a 1/4 cup soy milk to the ingredients in the blender. I also removed it from the heat much sooner than I did the first time around - as soon as the cheese got lumpy and started to congeal. These two slight changes improved the consistency, but not so much that I could drizzle the cheese off my spatula, onto my food. Try as I might, I could never replicate the photos on your blog of strings of cheese sauce dripping from a nacho chip.
I am frustrated and disappointed. Can you please help me understand why my results differ so greatly from yours?
Thank you, Sam.
you said only tapioca starchy would work. Sorry for only using this for spelling errors. I am probably going to make the sunflower cheese and the baloney. by.the way the baloney wasn't under vegan meats when I checked.
I've been trying various vegan "cheese" sauces over the last couple years, and some taste better than others, but none were actually like cheese. I made this last night, and it is spot on. I tried reheating it today, and had to add water and stir between 20 second rounds of microwave, but it was just fine. I did misread, and added too much garlic powder, but didn't mess anything up. Next time I make it I plan to try reducing the amount of tapioca flour to see if I can keep it a little runnier. Even my wife liked it, and that is saying something for a vegan substitute.
Jess @ IDTLC Support says
That's great news, Rich! Thanks for sharing your experience!
I thought I had tapioca flour when I started making this but it was actually xanthan gum. oops! took an educated guess and used 1 tsp xanthan gum in place of the tapioca, and it turned out great—I used it with your nacho recipe. thank you!
Jess @ IDTLC Support says
That's great news, very resourceful!