Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos

The ULTIMATE vegan nachos, these are loaded with smoky cauliflower "cheese" sauce, sweet pineapple salsa, black beans, cilantro, and tomato.

Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos with Pineapple Salsa

If you made Thursday’s stuffed peppers and have leftover pineapple salsa and leftover chipotles, this recipe is for you! And if you didn’t, well that’s ok, you can still make it anyway 🙂

This is a nacho plate that you can feel good about! Instead of weird boxed nacho cheese, we’re making an oozy, spicy cheese-like sauce out of cauliflower. Seriously, is there anything that the mighty cauliflower can’t do?

Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos with Pineapple Salsa

What’s in Chipotle Cauliflower “Cheese” Nacho Sauce?

Good question! This irresistible sauce consists of 10 simple ingredients:

  1. Cauliflower makes up the bulk of the sauce and contributes to its luscious creamy texture.
  2. Potato gives this “queso” the oozy, thick consistency typical of classic nacho cheese.
  3. Cashews combine with the cauliflower and potato to perfect the cheese’s creaminess. They also add necessary richness.
  4. Water thins the sauce.
  5. Apple Cider Vinegar makes it tangy.
  6. Olive oil adds richness along with the cashews.
  7. 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce makes this “queso” smoky and a little spicy. (If you have any left over, blend them into this handy creamy chipotle sauce!)
  8. Garlic, onion powder, and sea salt balance & perfect its flavor.

Cook the cauliflower and the potatoes, then blend everything in a blender, and voila! The special ingredient (aside from the hidden cauliflower) is the chipotle pepper. You can find canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce at nearly every grocery store in the Mexican aisle. These canned peppers are spicy but – most importantly – they also have a wonderful, deep, smoky flavor. That smoky flavor in the sauce is such a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the pineapple salsa.

Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos with Pineapple Salsa

Don’t forget your nacho toppings!

Load these up with black beans, tomatoes, diced red onion, and cilantro, and you have a hearty, healthy nacho plate that’s practically meal-worthy and definitely party-ready. If you have the time, I highly recommend making the pineapple salsa here, because the sweet/smoky contrast it adds takes these nachos over the top. Mango salsa would be a great choice as well.

Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos with Pineapple Salsa

For more snacks and appetizer ideas, check out this post!

4.9 from 15 reviews

Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These nachos are topped with an oozy, smoky chipotle cauliflower "queso" that's totally vegan! Many toppings would be fair game here, but the sweetness of Pineapple Salsa against the smoky queso is absolutely delicious.
Recipe type: Appetizer, main dish
Serves: 4 to 6
Chipotle Cauliflower “Cheese” Sauce:
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed Yukon gold potato
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons water, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo*
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the nachos:
  • Tortilla chips
  • ½ cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup Pineapple Salsa
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  1. Make the sauce: Place the cauliflower and potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1-inch. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Drain, let cool slightly, then place in a high-speed blender with the cashews, water, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, chipotle pepper, garlic, onion powder, and salt. Blend until smooth.
  3. Spread the chips onto a platter, drizzle with the chipotle cauliflower sauce, and top with the cherry tomatoes, black beans, scoops of pineapple salsa, red onion, and the cilantro. Serve and enjoy!
*This sauce is mildly spicy. If you want a spicier sauce, add an extra chipotle pepper or a scoop of some of the adobo sauce, to taste.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Carol

    This was very good. My only complaint about the cheese sauce was the chipotle, which I don’t love. Next time I make it I’ll use a different type of chili.

  2. Patricia

    Do you have nutritional value on this loaded tortilla chips recipe

  3. Emily

    Loved this! We are following a plant based diet but I have been majorly craving all the junk food! So this chipotle queso totally did the trick. It definitely had us fooled and it felt so good to indulge with so many vegetables instead of meat and dairy. Thanks for the recipe! Will definitely make again.

  4. em

    how many calories is it?

  5. Laura

    Oh my! I was hesitant on this one but boy was I wrong. This is truly one of my favourite dinners ever!!! I made some slight adjustments to the sauce added some jack fruit in with black beans, and it was beautiful. An absolute gem, thank you so much!

  6. Lily

    I’m not a huge fan of the amount of vinegar, maybe just me because I just don’t like vinegar in general but I didn’t want to change things on the first try. I’ll definitely decrease or maybe omit it next time. Otherwise the texture was on point and the amount of spice was great with just one chipotle for my liking.

    • Chris

      I agree! Everything was so close to perfect but WHOA was there a dominant vinegar taste.

  7. Lynn harrison

    Where can you buy the tinned chipotle’s in adobo?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lynn, usually any grocery store in the Mexican (or international) foods aisle.

  8. Haley

    These are the best vegan nachos I’ve ever tasted.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved them!

  9. Lisa

    Would it work to use sweet potatoes instead of regular? Thanks! Making for a party tonight.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Oops, so sorry for my slow reply! Let me know how it went – the regular potato adds the oozy texture.

  10. Liz

    hi, we aren’t fans of Chipotle peppers. can you recommend a sub. pepper? could I use red bell pepper & Tabasco sauce ? (my daughter objects to the smoky flavor)

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Liz,

      A roasted red bell pepper plus a little hot sauce (to taste) might be a delicious replacement. Or you could try this recipe instead:

      It’s similar but the smoky flavor is less necessary (you can omit the smoked paprika). I think the cauliflower sauce might be a bit bland without the savory chipotle flavor.

      I hope that helps!

      • Liz

        Thanks. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  11. Brooke


    Are the cashews supposed to be soaked?

    Thank you,

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Brooke, I don’t soak mine – I use a Vitamix and they blend super smoothly without soaking. Depending on your blender, you could soak and drain them (30 minutes or overnight if you think of it) prior to blending.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      ooh, I also want to add that blender-type aside, there is only 1/4 cup cashews in the recipe… the potato and cauliflower provide most of the creaminess so this should blend in a creamy way for you either way…

  12. Yogesh from

    It’s looking soo delicious 😋😋😋

  13. Jessica

    This was so easy to make and delicious! The cheese sauce was so much more satisfying than dairy or whatever that bright orange stuff is they put on stadium nachos. I actually added some nutritional yeast to up the cheesy factor. I’m already thinking of using this sauce for queso dip and vegan chili con queso!

  14. Anna

    Do you have any idea how long the cheese sauce will keep in the fridge? A couple days?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Anna, it’ll last a few days – 2-3 is best. It thickens in the fridge so you might have to stir in a bit of water before you drizzle it over the nachos. It can also be enjoyed as a dip.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      ha ha, thanks Carissa!

  15. Gaby Dalkin

    HOLY MOLY! These look incredible!

  16. Brittany Audra @ Audra's Appetite

    I love the creaminess cashews can add to recipes! Can’t wait to try cashews with cauliflower…haven’t tried that for a sauce yet 🙂

  17. Raf from

    Love your blog and your recipes! Can’t wait to try these.

  18. Dori Perea

    I love your recipes and look forward to your next post. Keep up the good work. I am going now to get the ingredients for the Chipotle Cauliflower Nachos. How fun
    is that?

  19. Lauren

    Any suggestions for making it but free??

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lauren, you can use raw sunflower seeds. It won’t be quite as smooth but will still be very delicious! You might have to add a bit of water to the blender if it’s too thick (1 tablespoon at a time). Hope that helps!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.