Healthy Dairy Free Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip…made from veggies!

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My sister is always making her family healthy food and I was so excited when she sent me a recipe for dairy free vegan nacho cheese dip.  Instead of “cheese”, the dip is made of potatoes, nutritional yeast, olive oil and carrots for color.  I immediately tried her recipe as is and it was so delicious that our family ate it right up.  For our second batch, I thought that I would doctor it up a little with garlic and onion powder and add even more veggies–cauliflower.  The texture and color is amazingly like dairy nacho cheese and the taste is really delicious.  In no time, we ate up our second batch and I made a third to send in my son’s snack for school.  (along with blue corn chips and some apples to dip).

I should disclose that I didn’t tell my kids that this dairy free nacho cheese dip was made from veggies and the amazing thing is that they did not detect the veggies at all.  Although my husband and I love cauliflower–they don’t.  Or at least, they “think” they don’t…

If you can’t eat dairy, or are just cutting down on dairy, give this recipe a try.  It is definitely kid approved.


*  1 cup diced potatoes

*  1 cup diced cauliflower**

*  3/4 cup diced carrots

*  1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

*  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

*  1/4 cup water (reserved from veggies)

*  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*  3/4 teaspoon – 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (to taste)

*  1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

*  1/4 teaspoon onion powder

**If you don’t have cauliflower, you can use an additional cup of potatoes

1)  Peel and dice potatoes and carrots to same size.  Dice cauliflower to a slightly smaller size.  (cauliflower takes a little longer to get tender)

2)  Put potatoes, carrots and cauliflower into boiling water and cook until fork tender.  Drain well and reserve 1/4 cup water.

3)  Put potatoes, carrots and cauliflower into a high powered blender ( I used my Vitamix) along with the rest of the ingredients.  Blend on highest setting for about a minute until smooth and creamy.

4)  Serve immediately while warm with chips or cut veggies.   Sauce retains its creamy texture even when cold however, so it can be packed as snack or lunch.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.  Store in refrigerator for up to five days.

Linking to:  Gluten Free Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Katherine’ s Corner, Juggling Real Food and Real Life, Whole Food Friday, Real Food Fridays, Fat Tuesday, Waste Not Want Not

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  1. Wow! This looks so delicious, I have to try it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laci

    to clarify, all the veggies (including the potatoes) are raw?

  3. Oh Lori, you are going to make me go out and buy a vita mix!!!

    This looks delicious.

    Hope you are well my friend.
    sheila recently posted..Monthly Link Up: Getting Started with HomeschoolingMy Profile

    • Hi Sheila,
      I resisted getting a Vitamix for such a long time (didn’t need another appliance cluttering my already small kitchen) but now that I have it, I wonder how I got along without it for so long! We use it every single day…And, you don’t need to get a Vitamix–there seems to be many comparable high speed blenders (which are less expensive)coming out lately.
      Hope you are well too dear friend…Aloha, Lori

  4. Would organic cheddar cheese work in place of the nutritional yeast to make this clean eating, but not necessarily vegan?

    • Hi Jessica,
      Yes, I think cheddar cheese would work–so lucky that you can eat dairy! (I miss “real” cheese!) Let me know how it turns out…Thanks for being here and have a wonderful week. Aloha, Lori

      • The cheddar cheese works great! We love it. Thank you for this delightful “junk food” gone healthy recipe!

  5. Your recipe does not show how much extra virgin olive oil to use. It just says “1/3 extra virgin olive oil”. Please advise. Thanks!

  6. This is a great recipe to have…I am in charge of queso for our SuperBowl party. Thanks for sharing on the blog hop!
    Pam recently posted..I MATTER: 5 Steps to a New Hairstyle (Plus Thursday Blog Hop!)My Profile

  7. Daffodil Angel says:

    Hi Lori, I tried this recipe and it was a huge success – very tasty indeed. I altered it a wee bit but it has turned out well. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  8. Is there something else to use besides carrots? I’m allergic to them…

    • Hi Becky,
      I’m sorry that you can’t eat carrots! Carrots are added mainly for color and a touch of sweetness. You can leave them out and maybe add a PINCH of sugar and something else to give it color like turmeric, saffron, or something like that. (it will alter the taste a bit, but maybe in a good way!) You could also just add food coloring…Take care and have a great weekend! Aloha, Lori

    • you can use pimento instead of carrots for the color 1/3 cup pimento, but i leave them out since i do NOT like the taste of them! it will leave it white but still very very good! and to me that is what counts!

  9. What is nutritional yeast and where do you think I could buy it? Is it the same as bread yeast?

    • Hi Carla,
      Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast which has a nutty, cheesy flavor. It is a great source of protein and vitamins–especially the B vitamins. It’s readily available at any health food store and is not the same as bread yeast. It cannot be used as a leavening agent.
      In vegan or dairy free cooking, nutritional yeast is often used to provide a cheese taste. My kids love it sprinkled on buttered popcorn!
      Thanks so much for being here and let me know if you have any other questions. Have a great weekend! Much aloha, Lori

  10. that would not taste like nacho cheese though :(

    • I should clarify, what would you add to it to make the *like* taste of nacho cheese sauce? Serious weakness junk food for me! ^_^ REALLY happy to see this alternative, just would need to know the taste though!

    • Hi Toshia,
      I’m not sure if you’re responding to the previous comment about nutritional yeast? If so, nutritional yeast is used to give this vegan sauce a “cheesy” taste. And yes, you’re right, it’s not exactly like the dairy “nacho cheese” taste, but it’s definitely a toasty cheese flavor. The texture is definitely like a smooth and thick nacho cheese sauce though…
      Also, as I’ve told other people, you can add a non dairy cheddar cheese that makes it as close to the taste of dairy nacho cheese as possible. Or, if you can eat dairy, you can substitute parmesan cheese for the nutritional yeast.
      I hope that I answered you questions! Please comment back if I didn’t…
      Take care and have a great weekend! Aloha, Lori

  11. Thank you so much! I cannot have any dairy and I miss it! Can’t wait to try this. :-)

  12. What can be substituted if a person can’t have dairy or yeast?

    • Hi Cheryl,
      You’re one of many who can’t eat yeast…The nutritional yeast gives the sauce it’s “cheesy” flavor, so you somehow have to replace that. The easiest non-dairy substitute is a non dairy cheddar cheese that you can eat. Since non dairy cheese has salt, I would cut back on the salt and taste it before adding the full amount in the recipe. Good luck and thanks so much for visiting. Aloha, Lori

  13. Can you use anything besides potatoes and yeast. Allergic to both.

    • Hi Wendy,
      If you can’t eat potatoes, just use all cauliflower. I tried it and it’s good! (a little stronger veggie taste, but good!) As for the yeast, is there a non dairy cheddar cheese that you can eat? If so, that’s a good substitute. (The nutritional yeast gives the sauce the cheesy taste) Take care and have a great weekend. Aloha, Lori

  14. I love the little box you put these in. Can you tell me what kind of metal box that is? This recipe looks great. I do eat dairy, but am thinking of eating much less, and possibly trying to go dairy free because of my auto immune issues. I already eat gluten free. Thanks so much for your blog and this recipe!

    • Hi Tracy,
      The little lunchbox is from a company called “LunchBots”. They’re perfect for the kids’ lunches and snacks and they’re really sturdy–I’ve had these for years! I bought mine at Whole Foods or somewhere like that, but I’ll bet you can find them online. Thanks so much for being here. Have a great weekend and aloha, Lori

  15. Eleanor J says:

    What is the purpose of the nutritional yeast? Can’t have yeast :( I don’t know what it could be replaced with. Any ideas? Off dairy as well.

    • Hi Eleanor, oh I’m sorry that you can’t eat nutritional yeast! Nutritional yeast give the “cheesy” flavor and I’m not sure there’s a good substitute. I’ll experiment this weekend with cashews or miso and I’ll update the post if things work out. Please check back! Thanks for your question and aloha, Lori

    • Hi Eleanor,
      I played around with the recipe and IF you can eat non dairy cheddar cheese, I would substitute that instead of nutritional yeast. I tried it and it’s really good! Thanks and aloha, Lori

    • Hi Eleanor,
      P.S. The nutritional yeast gives the sauce a cheesy flavor.

  16. I’m so excited to try this! I’ll have to add some jalepeno to make it a little spicy! Also, for all of you dairy free cheese lovers- Cabot makes GF & DF cheese that’s very much real and amazing! My favorite cheese out there! All of the sharp cheddars and the pepper jack are DF & GF!

    • Hi Kyssara,
      I’ll look for the Cabot brand–it sounds great! And, my kids won’t eat jalepeno, but sounds great for my husband and I…Thanks so much and have a great weekend, Lori

  17. Susaod veggiesn says:

    I immediately assumed from the title that this was made from soy cheese/tofu. I despise those!.. All good veggies! I cannot wait to make this and pass it around!

  18. Can the potatoes be subbed for yams or sweet potatoes to make it paleo?

    • Hi Alison,
      You can try yams, but I think the sweetness will be too overpowering. I think using all cauliflower would be better to make it Paleo. Thanks so much and aloha, Lori

  19. What about those of us who cannot do nightshades (potatoes)? What can I sub for the potato?

    • Hi Maryruth,
      You can use all cauliflower. I’ve tried it and although it has a slightly stronger veggie taste, it’s still good! Thanks so much for being here and have a great weekend. Aloha, Lori

      • I avoid nightshades too and am going to try this with a white sweet potato since they aren’t as sweet as yellow or red sweet potatoes. Thanks for the recipe!

        • Hi Steph,
          I don’t think I’ve ever had white sweet potatoes. Good to know that they’re not as sweet as the others. I hope it works out for you! Please let me know how it turns out. Take care and aloha, Lori

  20. Squeal you know I am making this!!!! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop . Big Hugs my friend
    Katherines Corner recently posted..Easy Flower ArrangingMy Profile

  21. Thanks for your reply. I looked it up and see that it comes in various forms: nutritional yeast seasoning, nutritional yeast flakes, and nutritional yeast powder. Is there a specific one that you use? I have a 10 year old daughter that is GF and dairy free. I can’t wait to try this for her. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Carla,
      My son is gluten and dairy free too and loves this dip! And I didn’t realize there were so many nutritional yeast options out there. I always use nutritional yeast flakes…You can substitute with a good dairy free cheddar cheese if it’s more convenient. Thanks and aloha, Lori

  22. I love the idea of this, I love, love cheese, but it don’t love me. Pinning to my healthy eating board, thanks for sharing this on Real Food Fridays.
    Joyce recently posted..Real Food Fridays #22 Link UpMy Profile

  23. VEGAN nacho cheese dip? Are you kidding me? Where has this been my whole life?! You are a genius. I can’t wait to try this! :)
    Valentina recently posted..ultimate veggie grilled cheese {feat. MELT buttery spread}My Profile

  24. HI Lori,
    I am a vegan and also allergic to soy and have a gluten intolerance. anybody who can make “cheese” without soy and the vegan fake cheese garbage is my hero. I am making this today, will give my feedback later. thank you for this recipe. :)
    Kelli Mayer recently posted..Gluten free tea party cupcakesMy Profile

  25. Lori, this was fantastic. will def make again. For the cashew question people, YES, I played around and salted cashews gave much of the same flavor, I took a 1/4 cup, put them in my Ninja with a just a little water and ground those suckers smooth like butter and added it. We actually liked that taste better than the yeast believe it or not. So for inquiring minds who can’t or don’t want to use the nutritional yeast, go for the cashews. :)
    Kelli Mayer recently posted..Gluten free day 27- and now, time for another recipe – Rice and BeansMy Profile

  26. fantastic. the cheese looks great!
    Richa recently posted..Smoky Amaranth Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper sauce. Vegan RecipeMy Profile

  27. I love this recipe! What a great idea for healthy Superbowl food!

  28. I took one look at this and said, Whaaaaaaa???? in my best Minion voice. :) This is fascinating! I am neither dairy-free, nor vegan, but I know several people who are, and I am willing to try something that looks tasty and is healthy! Thanks for linking up with Let’s Get Real! Sharing this on FB!
    Nicole recently posted..Southwestern Breakfast BitesMy Profile

    • Hi Nicole,
      I know…it sounds so impossible, doesn’t it? How lucky that you can eat dairy, but for those of us who can’t eat it, this nacho dip satisfies that cheese craving. Thanks so much for hoisting. Aloha, Lori

  29. Hi, I just found you on the internet. What can I use instead of nutritional yeast? I am not able to eat it and have had to eliminate it from my diet. Your dip looks and sounds great. But I need a healthy substitution. Thanks.

  30. Aloha from Oregon! I don’t know how I stumbled onto your blog, but I love it. I have made cashew and almond cheese sauces for years, but they can be heavy and I don’t always have time to soak the nuts like I’d prefer. I had all of these ingredients on hand (used some diced onion in place of onion powder) and just whipped it up for lunch today with some Tinkyada brown rice elbow macaroni and my kids gobbled it up. I didn’t even feel bad that I didn’t serve veggies on the side since the sauce is full of them. My 5 year old daughter asked me if she can have this specific mac and cheese on her birthday for her special dinner. :-) 6 thumbs up from our family! I’ll have to see what daddy thinks of it when he gets home from work.

    Thanks so much. Can’t wait to make some of the crafts you’ve posted tutorials for too.

    • Hi Tara,
      Yum! Mac and Cheese with this? For some reason I didn’t think of it…Thanks so much for being here and for sharing. Much aloha, Lori

  31. Hi Lori, your a genius, I love the idea of this recipe.. I am going to make it today using just Cauliflower and omitting the potato. I also love the idea of using Miso. So glad I found you.. :-)
    Karen recently posted..Banana Chia and Oat Balls – nut free and dried fruit free!My Profile

  32. Lori, thank you SOOOOOOOO much for this recipe. I have been craving “nacho” cheese dip and I just can’t risk eating dairy and usually the bell peppers that come along with the sauce. I am going to try this out with your suggestion of a non-dairy cheddar cheese as I am allergic to yeast. So so very excited to try this!

  33. I just found your blog. I like the idea of the NYeast as the cheese flavor. I flipped through the comments but didn’t really see info/q’ns about quantity/shelf life. If noted sorry, slightly ADD

  34. This is so yummy! My son can’t have dairy so I’ve cut it out of my diet also. Now and then I miss is so this is just what I needed. Plus my son is currently dipping his veggies in it. Yay!!!
    Many thanks

    • Hi Rina,
      GREAT for you and your son dipping veggies! (my kids will eat a couple carrot sticks and then go to chips) Thanks so much for being here. Aloha, Lori

  35. Just came by to let you know I am featuring this post tonight on Real Food Fridays.
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  36. 1. What kind of potatoes did you use? I’m thinking Yukon Gold would be delicious here.
    2. Thoughts for reducing or eliminating the oil? I generally cook oil-free, and 1/3 c. is a LOT of nutritionally void fat and calories.

    Thanks! Can’t wait to make this!

    • Hi Heidi,
      I used russet potatoes because it’s what I had on hand, but I agree that yukons would be great! And I think you could definitely cut down on the oil–I was also thinking about doing that. I was going to cut it in half and then taste it, adding more if it needed the richness–it’s nacho cheese sauce afterall! :) Thanks so much Heidi. Please let me know about how it works with less oil. Aloha, Lori

  37. This looks great! I’m always looking for new GF-DF recipes. I can’t wait to try this out!

  38. Ashley Hamm says:

    Hello there, thanks for posting an awesome recipe. My one year old (and me as his milk maker) are SUPER picky atm, especially with veggies but he is also super intolerant to alot of them and more. So my question is how important is the lemon juice? Citric acid/fruits are on our list of no-nos. Thanks!

    • HI Ashley,
      I’m sorry that you and your son are intolerant to a lot of foods. :( I think that leaving out the lemon juice will be fine. Take care and aloha, Lori

  39. Kathi Sandler says:

    I just made this and OMG…it’s the best ‘queso’ I’ve made yet! And yes, the Vitamix is the best investment I’ve made in a LONG LONG time! Makes this recipe easy peasy….Think I’ll lower the lemon juice next time though….it’s just a tad tart. Wonder what Rotels would do to it?

    • Hi Kathy,
      Sorry for the delay in responding to you! (I DID respond a while ago, but something must have happened! I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed this dip and yes, I think Rotels would be great! I’ve added hot salsa to kick it up a bit and it was delicious. Thanks so much for visiting and have a great weekend. Aloha, Lori

  40. Hi Lori, I’ve made 2 variations of this recipe. I love it, it’s such a great idea. I’ve done up a carrot, zucchini one with for this afternoon. thanks for the great ideas…. :-) Karen
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  41. I just have to say I LOVE this recipe. I have a serious weakness for nacho cheese… it’s my guilty pleasure. With this I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. Bonus points – my 3 year old loves it too. Thank you! That said, first round I followed the recipe as written and I found it to be waaaaaay to salty. So I did it to taste and in my book 1/2 teaspoon of salt is plenty. I also separate a bit for the kiddo then add hot sauce for the grown up version. Thanks again!!

    • Hi Michelle,
      I’m glad that you tried the recipe and sorry that it was too salty! My mom is on a VERY sodium restricted diet now and I’m doing it with her and my salt tastes have really changed. I’m sure that I would find the recipe too salty now too! Thanks so much for your comment and have a great weekend. Aloha, Lori

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