Cheesy Vegan Nachos with Tempeh

Nachos! Nachos! Nachos! They’re delicious and everyone loves them, but what happens if you can no longer eat dairy, or choose not to? You could say goodbye to your favorite snack and reminisce about the happier, cheesier days, or you can figure out an alternative plan. I always opt for the latter for a variety of reasons involving stubbornness, the thrill of a challenge and getting to eat a meal that sometimes doesn’t make sense, but kinda does a little.

When it comes to a non-dairy cheesy flavor, raw cashews and nutritional yeast are always your friend. When you add some salt and acid, you get a lot closer to that cheesy taste. I threw some roasted red pepper in this sauce because I’ve always enjoyed making soups with those combined flavors in the past and always thought it had a nice mild cheesy flavor.

The “weird” ingredient in this sauce comes in the form of potato. I remember about 8 or 9 years ago, I was working 3 jobs and had to get to my first one by 4:30am in order to squeeze them all in. Long story short, I was at job #1 rushing around trying to finish up to get to my next job on time, under-cooked the potatoes and couldn’t quite get the proper mash happening to turn them into silky smooth, pipable mashed potatoes. I thought the food processor would solve the problem, but instead turned it into a gummy mess and I had to start over. Rookie mistake.

I wish I could blame that whole incident on being overworked and sleep deprived, but in reality I was just way too naive to the power of the starches in our friend, the potato. Lesson learned, potato. Lesson learned. The good news is, I’ve used that mishap to my advantage in this recipe.

Cheesy Vegan Nachos with Tempeh

Cheesy Vegan Nachos with Tempeh

You can make your vegan nachos two different ways. You can saute all the vegetables, then pile them on top of the tortilla chips with the tempeh and drizzle the cheese sauce on. The other option, which is the route I go, is to build your nachos with raw vegetables, drizzle with cheese sauce and bake them for 10 minutes.

My advice would be to drizzle the cheese sauce on with a squeeze bottle before putting them in the oven. I find if you just place blobs of the sauce on using a spoon, they can turn out soggy from all the moisture. If you drizzle, you can cover everything a little more evenly and it doesn’t get super saturated in one area.

Cheesy Vegan Nachos with Tempeh

For the toppings, just use your favorite vegetables in any amount. I decided not to write out measurements for that part in the recipe because everyone likes theirs differently. The focus is more on the cheese sauce and the tempeh.

The best part of these vegan nachos is that you can eat the whole tray and not feel gross and weighed down afterwards. I know I was always pretty heavy-handed on the cheese when making nachos in the past, so this sauce allows me to keep my nacho addiction and not feel bad about it.

Cheesy Vegan Nachos with Tempeh
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr
Servings: 4
Cheese Sauce
  • 1 medium Russet Potato or other white fleshed potato
  • ½ cup Raw Cashews
  • ½ Roasted Red Pepper
  • cup Water
  • cup Sunflower Oil or other mild tasting oil
  • cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • ¾ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 227g package plain Tempeh
  • 1 Tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • cup Soy Sauce Tamari for GF
  • 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar can sub other vinegars
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp dried Thyme
  • ½ tsp Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp Onion Powder
  • ¼ ground Fennel
  • ¼ tsp Paprika
  • tsp Chipotle
Other Ingredients
  • 1 bag of Tortilla Chips
  • Mix of your favorite nacho toppings bell peppers, onion, olives, hot peppers, etc.
  • Guacamole optional
  1. For the Cheese Sauce: If roasting your own red pepper, heat your oven to 450℉. Cut the pepper in half, remove stem and seeds. Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, then drizzle the halves with oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the skin becomes charred. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. You can remove the skin it you wish. It usually puffs up and is easy to peel off.
  2. Peel your potato and dice into similar sized cubes. Add to a small pot of boiling, salted water. Once the water starts to boil, add your cashews to the pot. This will help soften them, making them easier to blend. Once the potatoes are soft, drain into a colander.
  3. Add your cashews and cooked potatoes to the food processor, along with remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. You can adjust the water amount until you get the consistency you like.
  4. For the tempeh: Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Crumble the tempeh and add the seasoning. Continue breaking up the tempeh as you stir and mix in the spices with a wooden spoon or spatula. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes until you get the desired texture.
  5. Assembly: Finely dice the vegetables you’re using. Spread a layer of tortilla chips on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Drizzle cheese sauce then evenly sprinkle chopped veg and tempeh. If you want to layer then, add another of tortilla chips on top and repeat. Bake in a 400℉ oven for 10-15 minutes. Eat immediately.
Recipe Notes

*Store leftover cheese sauce in a jar in the fridge. You can use it on pizza too.
** You can play around with the seasoning of the tempeh. Add garlic if you'd like. I like to add a little smoked paprika and cumin sometimes for a more bbq taste.
*** You can use the other half of the roasted red pepper on the nachos, or save for sandwiches.

Cheesy Vegan Nachos with Tempeh - Perfect for game night! #vegan #glutenfree #recipe

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NicoleannabananaAmy Katz from Veggies Save The DayveeatcookbakeLeslie-Anne Recent comment authors
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Omg yum! I’m not a huge tempeh fan, but this looks like such a delicious way to eat it.

Colleen Milne

I love this “cheese” sauce! The potato is genius! Isn’t it cool when we learn something great from our kitchen mistakes? Thanks for sharing.

Leanne | Crumb Top Baking

Those nachos look incredible, and I definitely need to try that cheese sauce! Perfect weekend snack!


I just love nachos and the way you have made them here is amazing. Love the colors, the cheese sauce. I use nutritional yeast a loy and the way it just gives that cheesey flavor. This would be a great snack for the superbowl yum! If anyone hasn’t tried Tempeh you have to give it a try it is so good when marinated, it takes on all those wonderful flavors and can crisp up nicely!
Great Job on this one


I love a good, hearty recipe and my family will too, when I make them this golden beauty! Thank you for this recipe, it’s a keeper! 😀


The potato is a really smart way to make the cheese pliable and have the same mouth-feel as actual queso! Well done, sleep deprived momma!


Yummy. I used to love nachos with cheese. Great idea to use tempeh too.

Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day

I love nachos! I love that you make your own cheese sauce, too!


They look fantastic! So in love with all the ingredients, and they would be a perfect snack for a cheeky Netflix session!