Dive into a pile of vegan nachos with cashew queso. They are loaded to the max with vegan chorizo, black beans, tomatoes, and guacamole. Enjoy them with friends as an appetizer, or make a meal of them! Vegan and gluten-free optional.
Nothing says messy indulgence like a gargantuan pile of nachos. Every bite brings a different flavor… Cashew queso, vegan chorizo, black beans, guacamole, the peppery bite of jalapeño…
As if that wasn’t enough, you have the variety of textures – crunchy, creamy, and chewy to take the experience up another notch.
Layers of goodness
The key to perfect nachos is in the layers.
You don’t want a huge pile of chips on bottom, and then all the toppings blanketing them. That’s a sure fire way to end up with sad and soggy chips on an empty platter when all is said and done. No one wants that.
So remember the layers.
Start with an even row of tortilla chips, then cashew queso, chorizo & beans, chopped fresh vegetables… And then top them with another layer of chips, and so on and so forth.
Continue adding like some kind of geological dig in reverse until you have a mountain of nachos to ascend.
Creamy cashew queso
I’ve been making a version of this creamy cashew queso for years. The cashews give the sauce a full-bodied fattiness you really want in your vegan cheese.
There’s just one recent change. Lately I’ve been adding a steamed carrot to the mix. The carrot doesn’t add a lot in terms of flavor. But it does mean you’re squeezing in an extra vegetable at dinnertime. Plus, it gives the queso a very pleasing pop of orange.
If you don’t have a carrot on hand, no worries. The cashew queso is every bit as good without it.
Vegan chorizo & black beans
For the meaty portion of the nachos, I like to use a mixture of vegan chorizo, black beans, and spices.
There are lots of plant-based chorizo options available. Lately, I’ve been using Trader Joe’s soy chorizo, which comes in a tube and is gluten-free. It has a regular spot on my Trader Joe’s grocery list. (Remember to throw away the plastic casing. That’s not edible.)
I’m also fond of chorizo seitan from Upton’s Naturals and the Herbivorous Butcher. (Keep in mind that seitan isn’t gluten-free, though, if that matters to you.)
Use whatever you prefer & have available! Or you can skip it and do spicy black beans instead.
All of the vegetables
Finally, fill out the nachos with green onion, cilantro, jalapeño pepper slices, and guacamole.
Get your napkins ready. It’s go time.
How to make nachos with cashew queso
Start by putting the following into a high-speed blender:
- Steamed carrot
- Raw cashews
- White miso paste
- Nutritional yeast flakes
- Vegetable bouillon
- Ancho chile powder
- Granulated onion
Blend until smooth. Then move to a medium-sized pot. Stir on a medium heat until it has thickened like a gravy.
Brown vegan chorizo in a skillet. Then add black beans, cumin, ancho chile powder, and water. Warm until the spices are evenly distributed and the water has cooked down.
Then put tortilla chips on a plate & pile on the above toppings along with guacamole, tomatoes, green onion, and cilantro. Dig in!
(Looking for a non-shared option? Do a build-your-own vegan nacho bar instead!)
Loaded vegan nachos with cashew queso
For creamy cashew queso
- 1 carrot* chopped
- 1 cup water plus extra for steaming carrot
- ½ cup raw cashews**
- ½ teaspoon Better Than Bouillon no chicken base or half of a vegetable bouillon cube
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- ½ teaspoon white miso paste
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
- ¼ teaspoon salt**
For seitan chorizo & black beans
- 8 ounces tortilla chips
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes I like to use cherry tomatoes out of season.
- 2 Tablespoons green onion sliced
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 batch guacamole or diced avocado
- Optional toppings: Pickled jalapeño pepper slices & hot sauce
To make creamy cashew queso
- Fill a medium-sized pot with about an inch of water. Add chopped carrot and bring to a simmer. Cook until the carrot is fork tender, about 8 minutes. Drain water and set the carrot aside.
- Using a blender, blend cooked carrot, 1 cup water, raw cashews, Better Than Bouillon or half of a bouillon cube, nutritional yeast, white miso paste, cumin, ancho chile powder, granulated onion, and salt. Blend until totally smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.
- Transfer the cashew mixture to the empty pot you used for steaming the carrot. Bring the pot to a medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring for about 10 minutes. If it begins to simmer, lower the heat. Continue stirring and cooking until the cashew mixture has reduced and thickened, making a velvety smooth queso. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make chorizo & black beans
- Bring a non-stick skillet to a medium heat with organic canola oil. Put the vegan chorizo into the skillet and brown for a few minutes.
- Add black beans to skillet with paprika, cumin, ancho chile powder, and 1 Tablespoon of water. Stir until the spices are fully combined and the beans are warm. Remove from heat and set aside. (Depending on the saltiness of your chorizo, you may want to add a pinch of salt. Add to taste, if needed.)
To make nachos
- The best nachos are made in layers. Put one layer of tortilla chips on a large platter. Top with a smattering of creamy cashew queso, chorizo & black beans, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and avocado. Add another layer of chips and all of the above. Continue layering the chips & toppings until you have a beautiful mound of vegan nachos.
- Serve right away with plenty of napkins, pickled jalapeño slices, and hot sauce.
Content, recipe, and photos updated July 2020. Originally posted April 2017.