Spicy Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce (Whole 30)

Dairy-free Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce

So… a lactose-free diet isn’t super fun, especially when you’re gone your entire life able to eat pretty much anything. I developed a lactose allergy in my early thirties and giving up milk products was tough. I don’t miss ice cream. I don’t miss yogurt. But oh my goodness, I do miss cheese. I love cheese and I want to eat it pretty much all the time.

Thank goodness I discovered JJ Virgin’s dairy-free cashew cheese. It is very easy to make and it’s become my go-to cheese replacement. We make a huge batch to bring on road trips and use it inside turkey wraps and veggie wraps when we’re hiking and adventuring.

But I’ll be honest, sometimes I want cheese sauce. Sometimes I want hot melted cheese. I want to dip chips in gooey cheese or enjoy a big old plate of nachos. I want a cheese burger or a quesadilla. And my go-to cashew cheese, while absolutely delicious, just wasn’t going to work.

But could I change it up? Could I adapt the recipe? Could I make a cashew cheese sauce? I thought about it, but never tried it. Then on a recent date night, I figured it out.

We do the dinner/concert date night at least twice a month and we try to go to a different restaurant every time. The latest one we tried was the Nectar Cafe, a vegan restaurant in Auburn, California. The food was fantastic. It just may be our new favorite pre-concert spot! Anyway, The sauce on my enchilada was a cashew cheese sauce and I was intrigued. I mentioned how much I liked it to our server, I told her that I make my own cashew cheese, but that it is thicker, like a paste, and I asked how they make theirs so creamy.

The secret? Hot water.

That’s it. Hot water. The more water you add the more creamy/thin it becomes. It’s seriously that simple. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to try it myself, adapting the cashew cheese recipe I loved into a Spicy Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce.

Easy Dairy-Free Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce

Spicy Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce

This Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce has only seven ingredients: raw cashews, olive oil, sea salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and hot water.

The first step is soaking the cashews for 4-5 hours or overnight. The cashews absorb most of the water and get puffy and squishy.

You may think that you can skip this step, but don’t do it. Resist the temptation to cut corners and try to speed up the process. You can’t skip soaking the cashews. If you skip this step, the consistency of your cashew cheese will be wonky. I have always soaked the cashews overnight, but for this recipe, I only soaked them for about 4 hours and it still worked great.

When I was ready to make the cashew cheese sauce, boiled water on the stove, drained the water from the cashews, added all of the ingredients except the water to my Vitamix, and pulsed it a few to mix everything together. I then added the hot water, just a little at a time, while continuing to pulse the cashew cheese mixture until it reached the consistency I wanted — a pourable nacho cheese sauce.

I then switched the setting to the soup setting and blended the sauce until smooth.

The results: Freaking Amazing.

The Spicy Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce was everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved it, my husband loved it, my Daughter loved it, and we all devoured it.

We used Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce to make:

Sooooooo good.

Spicy Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce

Raw cashews replace the dairy in this spicy nacho cheese recipe that's perfect for nachos, quesadillas, cheeseburgers, and more!

Dairy-free Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce


  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Hot water


  1. Put raw cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Let cashews soak 4-5 hours or overnight.
  2. Boil a cup of hot water. Drain extra water from the cashews and add them to your food processor or blender with the olive oil, sea salt, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Pluse several times.
  3. Adding a little bit of water at a time, continue pulsing the food processor or blender until your cashew cheese sauces reaches the consistency desired. Then blend until smooth. Serve immediately.


I use my Vitamix to make the Spicy Nacho Cashew Cheese Sauce. I pulse it on level 3 while adding the hot water, then I switch the setting to the sauce or the soup setting to blend until smooth.

Many links on this site are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link and purchase the item, I may receive a small affiliate commission — it costs you nothing extra but helps me keep the lights on and the hosting for this site paid. All affiliate links on this site use "/aff/" in the URL to denote that it is an affiliate link. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” and in following the rules of the Amazon Associates Program Operating Agreement. Yes, that means I am also an Amazon Associate and earn a small commission from qualifying Amazon purchases referred from links on this site.