Loaded Nachos with Cashew Cheese and Maple-Chili Tempeh

Vegan nachos! I’ve made many a cashew cheese over the last few years, and each of them has a slightly different purpose. There are sauces for macaroni, fillings for quesadillas, a straight cashew cheese, and quite a few others. But this one, oh, it’s just perfect. The right cheddary color, the right consistency, the right flavors. Everything. I just want to dip tortilla chips in it all day long, and drizzle it over tacos, and eat it by the spoonful. No matter how much I make, it just seems to disappear way too quickly.


And this nacho recipe is really one of my all-time favorites. It starts with the cashew-based nacho cheese that’s infused with smoked paprika… Then, we make some homemade baked tortilla chips from real corn tortillas which are super thick and crunchy… and that’s a good thing too, because if the chips were any less hefty they would simply cave under the deliciousness of our maple & chili glazed “ground tempeh” meat, nacho cheese, and other toppings.

The crazy part is, you can throw this entire meal together, from scratch, in less than 20 minutes. Let’s do it:

Makes 2 big servings (and extra cheese)


  • 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 oz tempeh
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2+ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4+ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (for color)
  • Additional toppings (lettuce, tomato, green onions…)

The Baked Tortilla Chips

Did you know you can make super delicious homemade tortilla chips with just corn tortillas and a tiny bit of oil? Here’s how.

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F
  • Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil on a baking sheet
  • Use your hands to spread 3 6″ corn tortillas around in this oil and ensure that all tortillas are just barely coated on both sides (you don’t need much oil here). Then, cut into sections, giving you 32 strips.
  • Sprinkle with a little salt.
  • Repeat with 3 more tortillas on another baking sheet.
  • Arrange all the triangles into a single layer on your baking sheets and pop them in the oven just until the ends start curling upwards
  • Remove from the oven and flip each chip to ensure even crispness on both sides, return to the oven for 4-6 minutes until fully crispy.

The Maple-Chili Tempeh


This stuff is one of the most delicious “ground beef” substitutes I’ve ever made. With a chili kick and a hint of sweetness, these crumbles are perfect on the nachos:

  • Heat a small skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of water and drop in bits of tempeh, using your hands to break it up into little chunks.
  • Drizzle in 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and maple syrup, along with about 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder.
  • Let this simmer and reduce for about 8 minutes, tossing regularly, until the tempeh is evenly coated in this delicious, caramelized glaze.

The Nacho Cheese


As mentioned, I’ve made plenty of cashew cheeses but this is perhaps my favorite. One of the secrets here is the smoked paprika (and yes, it has to be the smoked kind). It adds such a deep and complex flavor profile that takes this cheese sauce to a whole new level.

  • For best results, soak the cashews in lukewarm water for at least 1 hour.
  • Drain the cashews and add them to a blender with all the other ingredients – water, nutritional yeast, salt, smoked paprika, and tumeric. Blend until smooth.
  • Give the cheese sauce a taste and adjust anything as needed – a little more water may be needed as well.
  • This sauce will last for several days if refrigerated in a sealed container.

To serve, layer a plate with chips, drizzle the cheese, crumble the tempeh, and top with tomatoes, guacamole, and lettuce.



Leave a Reply
  1. Gah! I just drooled all over my work desk. I am definitely making this for dinner tonight… and possibly every night for the next week or so!! Thank you for another fantastic recipe.

      • Oh goodness gracious, I’ve made these yummy nachos every day since you posted the recipe (and those pictures!) last week. And now I’m contemplating heading out to the market to get more tempeh to make another batch.

    • Hi Tracy, I think I used the Trader Joe’s brand… but really any tortillas that don’t contain other additives (i.e. just corn and lime) should be fine. 🙂

  2. Can’t get tempeh here in my local Safeway so I’ll just try tofu, tvp or perhaps some Beyond meat crumbles. Love nachos, so I can’t wait to try this.

  3. OMG. Why haven’t I seen this one! I stalk your page all the time and must have missed this. Now I’m hungry and want nachos so bad =/ Totally making this next week 😀 You need to make a recipe book that I can order cause I need hard copies of all your recipes!

  4. These were so tasty. I froze my extra cheese sauce and used it to make the chickpea omelets. If anyone is wondering, the sauce freezes perfectly. Thank you!

  5. Hi Andrew, I just want to thank you for giving us clean recipes. I’ve just been eating vegan for 3 days. A lot of vegans I’ve noticed eat a lot of junk food. I’m so glad we have you to show people like me how to do it right. You’re priceless

    • Thank you for such a nice note, Kim! I try hard to use only whole “one ingredient” foods, so I really appreciate hearing this. Best of luck on your (new) vegan journey!!

  6. My husband and I have made these several times and LOVE them, thanks! 🙂 But we were wondering: Is there a trick to reheating the cheese sauce for leftovers so that it heats evenly, stays pretty smooth like a cheese sauce should, and stays warm or hot for at least a few minutes after it’s been added to the nacho plate? Because I’ve tried reheating it on low on the stovetop, in the microwave in one-go, and in the microwave in 15 second intervals (stirring each time), and it still tends to get overcooked and clumped around the edges but just lukewarm in the middle. And it doesn’t stay warm on the plate for more than a few minutes. Suggestions??? Muchas gracias!

  7. Hi Lara! I’m so glad you guys liked these as much as I do 🙂

    It’s funny that you mention that about the temperature because I’ve noticed the same thing. I honestly have no idea why it cools so quickly, but I’ve had best results with the method you mentioned of microwaving for15-30 seconds and stirring. Or, you could add it right onto the chips (if that’s how you’re serving it) and microwave them both. That might help things cook more evenly?

  8. Where do you get your tempeh? I’ve seen it used in several recipes now and it looks different in each one.. I would love to try it but haven’t found it in stores yet. Thanks! Just found your blog and already finding so many recipes I want to try!! So excited!

    • Hi Melody! Thanks for the nice comments. 🙂 These days you can find it in pretty much any grocery store (especially the more health-conscious ones). I typically buy mine at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, where they have like 10 different varieties.

  9. My husband and I pretty much make double or triple batches of the cashew cheese and keep it on hand as often as humanly possible.

  10. Oh my gosh, this recipe is unreal! My husband was floored when he found out that this was not some store-bought cheese in a jar. I will be making this over, and over, and over again! Thank you so much for sharing, Andrew!

  11. Hi, have read in other recipes that you need to stream or boil tempeh first before using it in meals.
    Is this correct for your recipe?

    • No I have never heard that. The tempeh I buy is pre cooked and says on the package that it can be eaten as is, without further cooking. Either way, it is cooked in this recipe 🙂

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