Why This Recipe Works

This creamy, gooey, tangy, downright cheesy sauce is sure to score a home run with vegans and non-vegans alike. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to make from pantry-friendly ingredients. We experimented with the familiar cast of characters used to develop vegan cheese-like sauces—cashews, nutritional yeast, and miso, along with various vegetables. Tasters were largely distracted by their vegetal flavors and pasty textures. The most neutral-tasting ingredient in the lot was potato, and we had a revelation when we broke a cardinal kitchen rule: We whirred boiled potatoes in the blender at high speed to release as much gummy, gluey starch as possible. While this would make the most unappealing mashed potatoes, the sticky mixture was the ideal base for a cheese-like sauce with stretch. We blended in a few other key ingredients—carrot for a hint of sweetness and a color, nutritional yeast for funky depth, and a bit of vegetable oil for richness and fluidity—and ended up with a sauce with a pleasing orange color, mildly earthy flavor, and ultracreamy texture. We stirred in a combination of sautéed poblano pepper, onion, garlic, chipotle chile, cumin, and mustard powder for Tex-Mex appeal.

Makes about 2 cups

Serve with corn chips or crudités. To rewarm cooled nacho dip, microwave, covered, in 30-second bursts, whisking at each interval and thinning with water as needed, or rewarm on the stovetop, whisking occasionally, and thinning with water as needed.

12 ounces russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1‐inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½‐inch pieces (⅓ cup)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
⅓ cup minced poblano chile
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder

1. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add potatoes and carrot and cook until tender, about 12 minutes; drain in colander.

2. Combine cooked vegetables, ⅓ cup water, 2 tablespoons oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, and salt in blender. Pulse until chopped and combined, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. (You will need to stop processing to scrape down sides of blender jar several times for mixture to come together.) Process mixture on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and poblano and cook until softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chipotle, cumin, and mustard and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; remove from heat.

4. Stir processed potato mixture into onion-poblano mixture in saucepan and bring to brief simmer over medium heat to heat through. Transfer to bowl and serve immediately.

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