Nothing says messy indulgence like a gargantuan pile of vegan nachos. Every bite brings a different flavor – cashew queso, spicy seitan, black beans, chunks of ripe avocado, the peppery bite of jalapeño…
And as if that wasn’t enough, you have the variety of textures – crunchy, creamy, and chewy to take the experience up another notch.
Very often when I share a picture of the pile of nachos I’m having for dinner on Instagram or Facebook, I get questions about the various toppings. So I start linking in the comments – the queso from here, the beans from there, the seitan from there…
With Cinco de Mayo festivities just around the corner, it was time to put my favorite swoon-worthy vegan nachos all together in one place – no cacophony of linking necessary.
N.N.T.C. – No naked tortilla chips
The key to perfect nachos is in the layers. You don’t want a huge pile of tortilla 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 – cashew queso, seitan chorizo & beans, chopped fresh vegetables… And then start all over with another layer of chips, seitan chorizo & beans, 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 the kind of 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.
Seitan chorizo & black beans
For the beany & meaty portion of the nachos, I’m using Upton’s Naturals chorizo seitan, black beans, and spices. There are loads of seitan chorizo options out there. So feel free to get whatever you prefer.
As always, I reach for ancho chile powder whenever I’m making something Mexican-inspired. Unlike chili powder blends, which are common in many a pantry, ancho chile powder is simply ground ancho chiles. (Ancho chiles are poblano peppers that have been dried.)
Many run-of-the-mill chili powder blends include cayenne. So people are often surprised to find that ancho chile powder is flavorful, but not hot. It’s a kitchen essential as far as I’m concerned. But if you don’t have it, go with whatever chili powder you have on hand.
All of the vegetables
Finally, I like to fill out my nachos with chopped onion, cilantro, jalapeño pepper slices, and dashes of hot sauce. (Here are my three top hot sauces!) This time around I added chunks of fresh avocado, but of course, guacamole would also work beautifully here.
Get your napkins ready. It’s go time.
Seriously swoon-worthy vegan nachos with cashew queso
For creamy cashew queso
For seitan chorizo & black beans
- 8 ounces tortilla chips
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes I like to use cherry tomatoes out of season.
- 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 avocado chopped
- 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, raw cashews, 1 cup water, half a vegetable bouillon cube, nutritional yeast, white miso paste, cumin, ancho chile powder, 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 crumbled seitan into the skillet and brown for a few minutes.
- Add black beans to skillet with paprika, cumin, ancho chile powder, 1 Tablespoon of water, and a pinch of salt. Stir until the spices are fully combined and the beans are warm. Remove from heat and set aside.
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.