Don’t let tofu scare you away, this creamy nacho cheese dip is a crowd pleaser! It’s so delicious and satisfying that no one will know it’s actually dairy-free.
When I need to bring food to a party, you can almost guarantee that vegan nacho cheese is going to be on the menu. This recipe comes highly requested from my friends. But, here’s the thing, I’ve never actually served them the same dip twice. Vegan nacho cheese sauce is crazy versatile. I’ve made it with potatoes and carrots, silken tofu, I’ve added cashews instead of oil, I’ve added various types of salsas, pickled jalapenos, chipotle peppers, miso and lots of different spices. Whatever I have on hand, basically. You almost can’t go wrong. But I understand that not everyone wants to risk it in the kitchen so I created this recipe for those of you that want a vegan queso dip blueprint.
Aside from it being delicious, there are a few reasons why I like this version:
It’s made with tofu, so it’s a great way to get in some plant based protein. It basically makes having nachos for dinner feel balanced and healthy. (I’m going to keep doing it, even if that’s not 100% true…)
It’s nut-free! Nuts aren’t a problem for me, except that cashews can get $$$, but I know they are for some of you. (Shout-out to my friend Stef and any of you nut-free peeps out there.)
No boiling carrots and potatoes. Not that it’s a hard step, but it is an extra step. Also, tofu makes for a creamier dip because there’s less fibre than when veggies are used.
To make it, start by mincing a shallot very finely. You could also sub any onion – you’ll need about ½ cup minced. In a pot, sauté the shallot with a tablespoon of avocado oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat until softened. If you have some extra time, you can start to brown the shallot, which will add more flavour. Deglaze the pot with a splash of water, as necessary and turn off the heat when it’s done.
While the shallot is cooking, finely chop 2 tablespoons of pickled jalapeños. You can use fresh jalapeños if you want, just adjust the quantity to your desired spice level and sub the pickling liquid that’s called for in the blender ingredients section for apple cider vinegar. If using fresh jalapeños, add them to the shallots while they’re cooking, if using pickled jalapeños, wait until the shallots are cooked and then add them to the pot.
Drain the liquid from a can of fire roasted tomatoes and chop up a ½ cup of the drained tomatoes. You could also use ½ cup of finely chopped fresh tomatoes, or ⅓ cup of salsa, but the fire roasted tomatoes add a lovely smoky flavour. Add the tomatoes to the pot of cooked shallots.
Add all the blender ingredients to a blender. Blend until very smooth and then add blended mixture to the pot with the shallot, tomatoes, and jalapeños. It will seem quite liquidy at this stage, but heat the mixture over a medium heat until it starts to bubble. Before it begins to bubble, stir frequently, after it begins to bubble, stir constantly to prevent the bubbles from spitting hot nacho cheese sauce. If it’s spitting too much, turn down the heat. The mixture should take 5-10 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat and serve warm with some tortilla chips or drizzle it over a burrito bowl.
Tofu Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 Shallot (~1/2 cup minced)
- 2 tbsp pickled jalapeños
- 1/2 cup canned fire roasted tomatoes (drained)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 300 g package silken tofu (~1 1/3 cup)
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (sweet, not spicy)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp pickled jalapeño brine
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Finely mince a shallot and sauté with 1 tbsp of avocado oil and a pinch of salt in a pot, over medium heat until softened. Deglaze the pot with a splash of water as necessary.
Mince 2 tbsp of pickled jalapeños and ½ cup of fire roasted tomatoes (with the liquid drained).
Combine all blender ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Add the blended mixture and the minced jalapeños and tomatoes to the pot with the cooked shallots.
Heat the mixture over a medium heat until it starts to bubble. Before it begins to bubble, stir frequently, after it begins to bubble, stir constantly to prevent the bubbles from spitting hot nacho cheese sauce. The mixture should take 5-10 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat and serve warm with some tortilla chips or drizzle it over a burrito bowl.
*Shallots can be substituted with any other onion - use ½ cup minced.
*Pickled jalapeños can be substituted for fresh, just adjust to your preferred spice level and replace the brine with 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar.
*Fire roasted tomatoes can be substituted with ⅓ cup of salsa.
*Corn starch is VERY necessary to thicken the sauce. You should be able to sub arrowroot starch, but I haven’t tried and the texture may be a little different.
*If you want it to be less spicy, use less jalapeños or swap for green pepper.
If you make this nacho cheese sauce, be sure to tag me on Instagram and leave a review below!
And if you want more plant-based dips in your life, check out this vegan tzatziki recipe and this white bean and beet dip.
Can you do this oil free?
Potentially, but I haven’t tried it like that and suspect that it wouldn’t be as tasty. Oil helps the flavour and texture become more cheesy. If you do try it without oil, let me know how it goes!
I made this with 4 teaspoons of avocado oil instead of 3 tablespoons. I thought it was very good.
I just made this but didn’t have the jalapeños so I subbed 2tbsp sriracha sauce. SO YUMMY!
Love that! It’s really customizable—sometimes I just add in store bought salsa to flavour it.