You can't have a creamy, rich, and cheesy sauce without dairy... said no one after they made this recipe. Seriously, this zesty jalapeño nacho cheese sauce is going to change your life forever.
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For many people who are transitioning to a vegan diet, lactose intolerant, or just wanting to reduce animal consumption, cheese is typically the hardest food to give up.
Those of you who fit in the above categories, this sauce is for you! We've tried tons of recipes online claiming theirs is the best. But, each time we made them, they came out unflavorful and boring.
Not exactly what you want in a cheese sauce. But, behold our zesty jalapeño nacho cheese sauce. It's got tang. It's got cheesiness. It's got spice. Perfect for a wide variety of uses!
We love it for dipping chips in, topping stuffed potatoes, as a dip for our tofu sticks, or as a buddha bowl sauce. The options are endless.
🍲 Key ingredients
- Cashews: these are the ultimate ingredient for a velvety smooth sauce. When we want to create a thick, creamy, and dairy-free dip, we always reach for these little guys. Although they are a little on the pricier side, it's next to impossible to recreate their buttery smooth texture (okay, our mouths are watering now). As an added bonus, there is 5g of protein in just 3 tablespoon of cashews along with whopping doses of magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. Your heart, bones, and muscles are going to thank you!
- Nutritional yeast: known to many vegans as "nooch," nutritional yeast has the savoury, nutty flavor that's vital to plant-based cheeses. This ingredient also comes with a host of health benefits in each serving. In 1 tbsp, there's 2g of protein and 30-180% of your daily vitamin B needs. Insane, right?!
- Lime: since it's so high in vitamin C and antioxidants, you can see why we like adding a little citrus to our meals. You also can't have a zesty cheese sauce without a little tang from some lime!
- Jalapeño: we love the heat (maybe a little too much). It's actually been somewhat challenging to create meals for other people because we have a heavy hand when it comes to our preferred spiciness. But, we've learned from our mistakes people. Now, we try to make recipes that appeal to a wide range of heat tolerances because you can always add more, right? For this reason, we added pickled jalapeño to this recipe since it gives some zest with a touch of heat. Best of both worlds!
If you don't have a high-speed blender, it's best to soak the cashews overnight, or for at least an hour in boiling water before making this recipe. Soaking cashews causes them to soften up, so you'll be less likely to have a grainy texture in the end.
Next, you have three options. 1, use fresh jalapeño and realize this is going to be an extremely spicy sauce. 2, do a quick 10-minute pickle, or 3, use store-bought pickled jalapeños.
After you've got the hard part over with (hopefully you didn't think that was hard), add the rest of the ingredients into your blender and mix on high until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.
This cheese sauce stores well in a mason jar or container in the fridge for 7-10 days. For optimal freshness, we don't recommend freezing this recipe.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Find a bulk food store for your nutritional yeast
- Use apple cider vinegar instead of lime juice
- Buy your cashews at Costco as we've found this to be the cheapest place for nuts
🍴 Tasting notes
This is the cheese sauce you've been missing in your life. It's:
- Perfectly spiced
If you try this sauce, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Zesty Jalapeño Nacho Cheese Sauce
- High-speed blender
- 1 cup cashews ($1.72)
- 1 whole pickled jalapeño ($0.27)
- ½ cup nutritional yeast ($1.96)
- ½ cup water ($0.00)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice ($0.12)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes ($0.01)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder ($0.02)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder ($0.08)
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder ($0.01)
- Sea salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- Soak cashews overnight, or for at least 1-2 hours in boiling water before making this recipe (soaking cashews causes them to soften up, so you'll be less likely to end up with a grainy texture).
- Next, add all of the ingredients to your blender and mix on high until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add jalapeños and red pepper flakes for heat, lime for more tang, or more liquid if you want it to be runnier.
- Serve with tortilla chips, as a topping for stuffed potatoes, or as a buddha bowl sauce. Store leftovers in a mason jar or container in the fridge for 7-10 days.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty recipes, check out our:
- Creamy vegan ranch for a tangy dressing sure to convert you away from store-bought.
- Spicy chili-garlic aioli if you're a creamy dip lover.
- Guacamole and tortilla chips for an authentic Mexican recipe.
- Vegan "chicken" tenders if you're in the mood for some serious comfort food with a spicy kick.
We don't recommend replacing cashews for anything in this recipe since they will create the creamiest consistency. If you're really in a pinch, you can try sunflower seeds with varied results.
No, You don't have to use pickled jalapeños. But, just be aware that fresh jalapeños will add quite a lot more spice. Additionally, the pickled jalapeños add more zest to this sauce.
This recipe was designed to use a ½ cup of nooch. We understand this is an expensive ingredient, and you can use less if you want to save more money. Just know that the taste will be altered.