Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce | Vegan, Dairy-Free


Use this Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce as a dip, a spread, over nachos, in lasagna—add it to any food or dish that needs a little dairy-free cheesy love!

Use this Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce as a dip, a spread, over nachos, in lasagna—add it to any food or dish that needs a little dairy-free cheesy love!

People have been making cashew “cheese” for some time. A Google search will turn up over two million results! Needless to say, the recipe I am sharing has many variations.

What I’ve found surprising in our transition from pre-packaged and processed to homemade and healthier foods are the tasty replacements available. For example, I would gobble down half a pan of Betty Crocker® brownies (my mom the other half). Today, I make brownies from scratch using ingredients like dates, almond butter and coconut flour. They taste much better and are more satisfying. So it is with this Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce. Use it as a dip, a spread, over nachos, in lasagna—add it to any food or dish that needs a little cheesy love!

Raw Nacho Cheese Sauce

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free |Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-Free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | Raw

Serves:  Makes approximately 1-1/4 cups
Active Time:  5 minutes
Soak Time: 2-4 hours


1 cup raw CASHEW NUTS
1/4-1/2 cup chopped RED BELL PEPPER
2 tablespoons cold-pressed OLIVE OIL
2 tablespoons WATER
1-1/2 tablespoons LEMON JUICE
1/2 teaspoon SEA SALT (then adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon ONION POWDER
1/4 teaspoon TURMERIC


Soak cashews in water 2-4 hours, rinse and drain.

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend on high until super smooth, scraping sides as needed. You may add additional water, one tablespoonful at a time, to adjust consistency to your liking.


Start with 1/4 cup bell pepper and add more as needed to achieve desired color. Less = yellow cheese, More = slightly more orange-colored cheese.

A high-powered blender such as a Blendtec or Vita-Mix will yield optimal results.

More Good Stuff


Sarah April 8, 2011 - 9:28 am

You should call it rawcho cheese. =p

JLgoesVegan April 8, 2011 - 10:02 am

Love this recipe! Thank you!

Jeanette April 8, 2011 - 10:39 am

I'll have to try this Lexie. I've made cashew cream and cashew milk, but haven't tried it as savory dip yet.

CassidyS April 8, 2011 - 1:17 pm

I just posted a version of this recipe too-it's really good! I've been wanting to come up with a mozzarella-type cheese (mostly for pizza), but so far it's been a no-go.

Shirley @ gfe April 8, 2011 - 2:28 pm

Fantastic, Lexie! And you are the queen of brief posts … well, I think you and Elana are in a dead heat for that. 😉 I have all the ingredients except turmeric. Must get some so I can make this one. I knew I could count on you to be my dairy-free helper. 🙂


Alisa Fleming April 8, 2011 - 2:58 pm

Your version sounds awesome Alexa!

Can we get that brownie recipe too? 🙂

Ricki April 8, 2011 - 3:08 pm

THAT SOUNDS PHENOMENAL!! (So phenomenal, in fact, that I had to use ALL CAPS!!). I love raw cheeses and love vegan nacho cheese, so I will, no doubt, love this. Can't wait to make it!

Lexie April 8, 2011 - 3:45 pm

Shirley, HA! The reason for some of my brief posts is my husband editing. You know how some posts just don't seem to flow right? Well that's usually what happens when my posts are brief … I just give up, give the facts and move on : )

Sarah, good name! Rawcho cheese : ) Love it.

Cassidy, your version looks super nummy and a little less rich with the oatmeal flour. Thanks for sharing that.

Alisa, Jeanette and Ricki … thanks for taking the time to comment : )


Kim(Cook It Allergy Free) April 8, 2011 - 5:06 pm

Wow! This one looks awesome! What a great recipe! My kids would love this one. This would go great with veggies for our afternoon snack! Thanks Lex. Thinking of all kinds of ways to use this!

Tia @ Glugle Gltuen-Free April 8, 2011 - 6:46 pm

Oh, no you didn't! If we were within at least a few miles of each other, I would be giving you a great big hug. And then sneaking some of that dip behind your back as I gave you the hug. Seriously!?!?!

I used to save my nacho cheese fix for whenever we went to a professional ball/hockey game. Needless to say that went out the window (not literally) once I couldn't eat gluten. But I never thought of trying to find a healthy version of it. Since we have been off dairy for a while, I'll bet it will taste superb. I can't wait to get to our new place so I can make it. I am getting a huge list of things to make at the new place. It is such a pretty, well-lit kitchen. Have I mentioned that before?

xo – Tia

Debi April 8, 2011 - 7:23 pm

Amazing, Lexie! I need to make this sometime and see if it fools my husband, disliker of all foods that contain nuts, but will eat nuts on their own. lol

Joyce April 9, 2011 - 1:29 am

This looks wonderful! I plan to try it this weekend. Since going gluten-free a year ago, I've really missed nacho cheese. We're discovering the "wonders" of raw foods – I love them. Thanks for the recipe.
~ Joyce

Megan April 9, 2011 - 1:34 am

You saved me with this one Lexie! We just got a new ALCAT test back and nothing in this recipe is off limits. Yay! You are awesome.

Laurel April 10, 2011 - 12:27 am

Looks amazing, most especially for the lack of nutritional yeast although I'm probably the odd one out here. I generally just add garlic. I don't know why, I just do – it keeps the bats away. I love having another vehicle for the turmeric too. I'm always trying to find things to put it in. Now if I could just figure out a good replacement for those lovely nightshade peppers…

Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com April 11, 2011 - 1:52 am

I'm so making this tomorrow, thanks Lexie!!

Lexie April 11, 2011 - 4:20 am

Laurel, I love your "bats" comment : ) Might keep my kids away, too, ha!


nicola @ gfreemom April 14, 2011 - 5:11 am

This looks amazing and so simple to make. On my list!

Laura April 20, 2011 - 4:34 pm

I'm sitting here shaking my head. How can cashews and red bell pepper end up tasting like cheese. What a treat! Thank you creative people!

Laura April 20, 2011 - 4:36 pm

Follow up to my last comment: sorry, I think it sounds like I didn't make the recipe. I did. and it is amazing.

Lexie April 20, 2011 - 7:29 pm

Laura … so glad you made it and that you all loved it : ) Pretty crazy how much it tastes like the real thing huh?


jas @ the gluten free scallywag May 10, 2011 - 2:07 am

oooo this sounds delicious! I am Coeliac and can handle everything else, but I love trying out new things and this raw nacho cheese looks delish! I love it when people try things that they think will taste foul because they're vegan/glutenfree/caseinfree/soyfree/sugarfree and they taste YUMMY – it just goes to show how much we really are used to living in a processed food society! Love your work.

Lori July 12, 2011 - 10:33 am

Bummer.Allergic to cashews, peanuts and almonds…

Would macadamia nuts or walnuts work?

Looks so yummy!!!

Ellen (Gluten Free Diva) August 6, 2011 - 11:51 am

Oh my, I can think of about a million ways to use this cheese. Can't wait to try it!!! Thanks Lexie! You're da' bomb!

Heather August 22, 2011 - 9:24 am

This is my first foray into faux cheese, but I must say it is DEEEELICIOUS! Thanks so much!

Lexie August 22, 2011 - 5:42 pm

Ha! Heather, love your description … faux cheese : ) This stuff is pretty unbelievable … thanks for sharing.


Maggie October 8, 2011 - 10:12 pm

This is such a simple and yummy recipe Lex! We love it. I was surprised to see the lack of nutritional yeast, a nice vegan cheese change! xo

Lexie October 9, 2011 - 4:19 am


Glad you all enjoyed it. I lick it off the spoon : )


loves comida March 5, 2012 - 3:27 am

Thank you Lexie for this wonderful cheese dip recipe! I re-mixed this on my food blog with the addition of green chiles and a bit more red bell pepper and lemon juice. Your blog is awesome and look forward to trying more of your recipes!

Judy April 8, 2012 - 2:06 pm

Lexie, I have been enjoying this recipe for the past year. I recently have become reactive to cashews.(The latest in a very long list.) Is there another nut that can be substituted? Thank you for the wonderful recipes!!!

Lexie April 8, 2012 - 2:59 pm

Judy, try macadamia nuts. Mac nuts are one of the few that do not require soaking for raw cheese. Mac nuts and cashews are the best nuts for raw cheeses. Let us know how it turns out 😉 xoLexie

heather May 2, 2012 - 7:23 am

You are amazing and my hero! I'm yeast, dairy, egg, corn and gluten free and trying to find anything that is like cheese is nearly impossible. Thank you so much! I can't wait to try it!

Lexie May 2, 2012 - 1:21 pm

Heather, let us know how you like it. My 25 year old brother licked the bowl clean. : ) You can also try this cashew and/or mac nut cheese (you can culture it or not) for kicks. http://www.lexieskitchen.com/lexies_kitchen/2012/4/10/raw-cultured-cashew-cheese.html


Kendra May 9, 2012 - 12:33 am

I'm so curious about this "cheese." I'm new to gluten/dairy so I haven't tried anything like this yet. Does it actually taste like cheese?

Lexie May 9, 2012 - 2:50 am

Kendra, you'll just have to try it to find out. : )

Amélie Verougstraete December 20, 2015 - 4:55 pm

I have to eat dairy-free and finding a sauce to go with my nachos is extremely difficult, since I want the sauce to taste good.

But this sauce is amazing and very easy to make.

I really love this recipe, thank you!

Lexie January 12, 2016 - 9:05 pm

Amelie! Yes!! So happy. You are welcome! xoLexie

Sherri Burrows January 12, 2016 - 7:15 pm

OK I realize this is a very old post… but can someone tell me if this can be refrigerated and reheated after it’s made? I have a little boy who LOVES nachos and on "nacho day" at school I have to send some type of replacement that he can eat! I need to put in a bowl and reheat at school.Can that be done?

Lexie January 12, 2016 - 9:02 pm

Hi Sherri,

So this is more like a dip. It could be warmed (I slap this on my jalapeño poppers and grill), but it is raw from the get-go (no cooking involved). My kids just dip celery and chips into it (room temp or even cold). I hope that helps


Reggie March 19, 2018 - 2:15 am

What can I substitute with cashew nuts?

Alexa March 22, 2018 - 2:01 pm

Hi Reggie, ooo that’s a tough one. Cashews are so unique. Very high creaminess factor. I would search the google web and see if there are any other nut recipes that might work.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.