So last month when the Superbowl rolled around and everyone was posting their snacks and party foods I obviously got hungry for nachos and had to do something about it. I did some preliminary research for vegan queso recipes and saw a lot of cashew based recipes or what some reviewers described as potato-carrot soups, so I figured it best to from scratch on my own version.
My son can’t eat nuts so cashews were out, and they are also super expensive. I feel like there is an unwritten code that nachos or any junk foods of my 1990’s, Saved by the Bell watching, youth should be able to be made on the cheap, amiright? For some reason potato as an ingredient threw me off. I wanted this queso to be rich and creamy and potatoes can have a chalky texture and become gummy when you over-mix them.
The first idea that came to mind was to follow the basis of making a béchamel sauce: make a roux (flour/oil thickener) and whisk in milk and cream to make a lush creamy sauce. Following that route I just needed to obtain that nacho cheese orange color and cheesy flavor with a hint of spice. I used carrot, annatto and paprika for color and flavor along with other flavorings, all of which you most likely have in your kitchen already.
The first try was bomb status, I’m being honest. We engorged ourselves on the best nachos ever that night. No regrets. Then the rest of February was a wash (the kid brought home the flu from school and we all got it, thanks kid) and I didn’t get to test my queso recipe again until just this week. Test results confirmed that this queso achieves college munchies glory and again we made a finger-licking dinner out of piles of nachos. Still no regrets there.
So… I’m now super happy and excited to share this easy, vegan, and cheap(!) nacho cheese sauce with you guys! I hope you love it and have an equally amazing vegan nachos experience as we did (twice now, ahem). If you try this recipe please leave a star rating belwo and let me know how it went in the comments. I love hearing from you!
Stay tuned for a post featuring this queso recipe. Our ultimate vegan nachos are coming up next!
video and full recipe below…
Easy Vegan Queso
Craving nachos? I got you! This vegan, nut-free queso / nacho cheese sauce is easy, cheap and delicious, and is made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup carrot
- 1 cup unsweetened soymilk*
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon annatto powder**
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 2 tablespoons pico de gallo (salsa)
- Peel, trim ends, and roughly chop 1 medium carrot, and simmer in water or steam until fork tender, about 5 minutes, to yield about 1/2 cup cooked carrot.
- Add cooked carrot, soy milk, coconut milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, and spices to a high speed blender and purée everything together until smooth.
- Whisk olive oil and flour together constantly in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches a dark golden hue, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat immediately. Still whisking, pour the blended mixture into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Continue whisking constantly until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Switch to a rubber spatula to continue stirring sauce until it becomes the consistency of nacho cheese sauce, about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped pickled jalapeños and pico de gallo.
- Note: a skin may form on the sauce as it cools, this is normal, and can be whisked smooth. But I found adding the pickled jalapeños and salsa to the queso helps to avoid a skin from forming.
- Serve right away with chips or cover in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
I haven't tried this with gluten free flour but the interwebs say sweet rice flour makes a velvety roux, so subbing it for the all purpose flour looks like it could work. If you try it let me know.
*Any unsweetened non-dairy milk can be used instead of soymilk.
**If you don't have annatto in your pantry already you can sub it with more paprika.
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Prop Love: Bowl by Lee Wolfe Pottery. Board by Sweet Gum Co.