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The Food Lab

The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: For the best, smoothest results, use a high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec) and press mixture through a chinois.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!

The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

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About This Recipe

Yield:Makes about 2 cups
Active time:25 minutes
Total time:25 minutes
Special equipment:High-powered blender and chinois (see note above)
This recipe appears in: The Food Lab: Vegan Nacho Sauce That's as Good as the Real Thing
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening or palm oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
  • 4 ounces russet potato (about 1/2 medium), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces roasted cashews (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Frank's)
  • 2 teaspoons pickling liquid from a can of pickled jalapeño peppers (plus peppers, to taste)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Procedures

  1. 1

    Melt shortening in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeños and cook, stirring, until completely softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and chipotle (with sauce). Cook, stirring, until fragrant and mixture starts to sizzle, about 1 minute.

  2. 2

    Add potatoes and cashews and cook, stirring, until cashews are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add water and almond milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are fully tender, about 10 minutes.

  3. 3

    Transfer mixture to the jar of a high-powered blender (see note above). Add hot sauce, jalapeño pickling liquid, and a pinch of salt. Start on low speed and slowly increase speed to high. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes, adding water a few drops at a time as necessary to thin to desired consistency. Season to taste with more salt.

  4. 4

    Press mixture through a chinois (see note above), using the bottom of a ladle to get it through. Cheese sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, or reheat in a small pan on the stovetop, stirring constantly, and adding extra water to loosen sauce as necessary.

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