These are the BEST vegan nachos on the internet! Fully loaded with a simple vegan lentil-walnut taco meat, drizzled with a gooey vegan nacho cheese sauce and topped with tons of fresh veggies and cilantro, it is satisfying and fun to eat too. This recipe is highly customizable and makes for a great dinner or appetizer to share with family and friends.
We are huge fans of vegan nachos for dinner! And yes, sheet-pan nachos do count as a full dinner in this house.
I shared my lentil-walnut taco meat recently and knew right away I had to use it as a plant-based meat replacement for hearty dairy-free nachos! We often make nachos by topping the chips with plain black beans as our meat-ish garnish, but in this case, the way the subtle chili flavor from the lentil mixture pairs with my vegan white queso is straight out of Tex-Mex wonderland.
But other than being so satisfying and delicious, why do we love these nachos so much? Because it is such a straight-forward meal that's easy to prepare. I like to make the lentil meat and queso ahead of time, so it can make for a quick weeknight meal, but keep reading to find out my lazy nacho night tips if you are in a pinch. Also, nachos are highly customizable, casual and informal, messy (but so delicious) and kind of healthy, depending on the type of tortilla chips you choose.
Oh, and our kids absolutely LOVE this meal. Probably for the messy part, but just like in this vegan Mediterranean tray bake, they think its just so fun to all share a center meal together. We always end up fighting over the cheesiest looking chips, which makes dinner entertaining and feeds my 5 year old's constant appetite for competition.
ANYWAY, bookmark this recipe for next time you are looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer, game day finger food, Cinco de Mayo party snack or just for a quick fun dinner that all your family will love.
Ingredients you'll need & substitutions
Making nachos is fun because you can really top the chips with what you have or your favorite ingredients. But here is what I like to use when making this recipe:
- Tortilla chips
- Vegan lentil-walnut taco meat
- Vegan white queso cheese sauce
- Red pepper
- Purple cabbage
- Corn (I used thawed frozen corn, but use fresh in the summer)
- Red onions
- Fresh cilantro
Other toppings that works well are for vegan nachos:
- Green onions
- Fresh tomatoes
- Vegan sour cream
- Guacamole or vegan avocado crema
- Thinly sliced romaine
- Salsa or pico de gallo
- Sliced jalapeño
- Diced green chiles
- Mexican pickled red onions or balsamic pickled red onions
Lazy vegan nacho night tips
The lentil meat and queso are easy and simple to prepare, but there are nights where you just want something done without any fuss. Then, here is what you can use instead:
- Store-bought queso: we firmly believe that my homemade queso is by far better than any store bought ones (and also is my most popular and loved recipe on my blog since day 1). But if you must grab one at the store, then this cashew nacho sauce from Siete will work too.
- Canned black beans or lentils: use this in place of the lentil-walnut taco meat for a quick topping. Rinse and drain well and warm up using the microwave for a few seconds. You can also sprinkle some salt and chili powder over and stir before topping the chips to add a little flavor.
- Shredded vegan cheese: we don't use these very often and I do believe that a saucy kind of vegan cheese is best for nachos, but feel free to add some for quick nacho meals.
- Store-bought guacamole: will easily add extra yummy creaminess.
With these simple already-made ingredients ready-to-go, you can make vegan nachos under 15 minutes!
How to make them
Prepare the lentil meat and vegan queso
These 2 recipes are great to make ahead! Keep in the fridge and reheat in the microwave when ready to make the nachos.
For the vegan taco meat, you will need to cook some lentils, which might seem like an extra painful step, but lentils cook quickly and easily! Unless you can find canned lentils, then use them to save you a step. The tender lentils are then cooked with walnuts, spices and tomatoes to a saucy and meaty consistency. Pretty easy. Find the full lentil-walnut taco meat recipe here.
For the vegan nacho cheese sauce, you will have to cook some potatoes, soak (or quickly boil too) some cashews and then blend with flavorful ingredients such as lemon juice and nutritional yeast. I love to add a can of mild green chiles after the sauce is blended to add some flavor and texture. It is easy, but again, requires a little bit of planning. Find the full recipe for the vegan queso here.
Pre-heat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Distribute your tortilla chips all over the baking sheet. Then, scatter the lentil-walnut taco meat over so most of the chips are covered. Add the corn (make sure to thaw and pat dry if using frozen) all over the chips too.
Bake in the oven for about 7-8 minutes or until the corner chips start to turn golden brown.
Once baked, then drizzle the warm vegan queso over and garnish with the pepper, purple cabbage, avocado, red onion and cilantro.
Serve with salsa or pico de gallo and enjoy right away.
Watch how to make them
- Choose high-quality tortilla chips. Thicker and sturdy chips work better as they won't get soggy super quickly after being in contact with the queso sauce. Homemade tortilla chips sold in groceries are amazing for nachos and making your own tortilla chips would definitely be great if you have the time. In any case, avoid any flavored tortilla chips.
- Try to chop the topping ingredients small so it is easier to grab them using the chips.
- You don't have to bake the nachos. You could layer all the ingredients (make sure the taco meat, corn and queso are warmed up) and then eat right away. I love to bake my nachos for a short time as it gets the chips crispier and golden brown.
- Feel free to build up a few layers! Start with half the amount of tortillas, then layer the taco meat, corn and queso, then more chips and toppings. Bake and add the fresh ingredients.
I like to serve my nachos with salsa or pico de gallo on the side opposed to drizzling over. Also, a side of guacamole or vegan sour cream is amazing if you have it.
We usually eat nachos with our kids, so we don't add anything spicy over the nachos. Instead, we drizzle hot sauce over as we eat. A creamy buffalo sauce drizzled over the nachos would be amazing if you want a spicy version.
How to make them ahead & storage tips
I would recommend to build up the platter of nachos when just ready to eat. The chips will get soggy while storing and won't be as appetizing after a little while.
BUT, you can and should make some of the components ahead of time so the nachos come together quickly when ready to eat:
- Lentil-walnut taco meat: make it up to 4-5 days ahead. It tends to thicken while storing. Simply warm up using the microwave and add a splash of water, then stir to get some of the saucy texture back.
- Vegan queso sauce: I have made this vegan cheese dip more times than I can count. Leftovers store very well in the fridge for a few days as well. The dip also tend to thicken while chilling, but simply warm up in the microwave and stir well to restore the amazing creamy consistency. Warm up 30 seconds at the time, stir and warm again. The sides of the sauce tend to "cook" if heating it too much without stirring.
- Toppings: If you love to meal-prep, then some of the toppings can also be prepared ahead, such as dicing the veggies and shredding the purple cabbage. Slice the avocado at the last minute though!
Leftovers don't store very well. This recipe feeds about 4 people if served as a meal or more if served as an appetizer. If you are worried to have more than you can eat, then I would suggest you make less and store the extra taco meat/queso, etc in the fridge to make a second nacho plate later in the week.
Other Mexican inspired recipes you might like
- Mexican buddha bowl
- Mexican loaded baked potatoes
- Lime pickled red onions
- Vegan horchata
- Jackfruit and bean chili
- Homemade whole wheat tortillas
- Vegan fish tacos
- Vegan chipotle mayo
- Vegan taquitos
- Vegan white bean chili
- Chili-lime bean and corn salad
- Protein guacamole
I hope you like these vegan nachos as much as we do! If you try them, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how they were. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Nachos with Lentils
1 batch of vegan white queso sauce (vegan nacho cheese sauce)
1 batch of lentil-walnut taco meat (OR a can of black beans, rinsed and drained)
For the nachos:
- 11-14 oz tortilla chips
- 1 cup frozen corn - thawed and patted dry
- ½-1 cup purple cabbage or romaine lettuce - finely sliced
- ½ red pepper - finely diced (or one large tomato)
- ¼ red onion - finely diced
- 1 avocado - diced
- fresh cilantro, about ½ cup - to taste, chopped
- Start by making the lentil-walnut taco meat and the vegan nacho cheese sauce. I recommend you to make these ahead as they store very well and will speed up the nacho making process a lot.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Distribute the tortilla chips all over the baking sheet. Then, scatter the lentil-walnut meat and the corn over. Bake in the oven for about 7-8 minutes or until the chips on the edges are starting to turn golden brown.
- Then, drizzle the vegan nacho sauce over and garnish with the red pepper, purple cabbage, red onion, avocado and cilantro.
- Serve right away with a side of salsa or pico de gallo and vegan sour cream. Enjoy!
- Storing: unfortunately, nachos do not store well as the chips turn soggy over time. Try to make only as much as you need (cut the recipe in half if only for 2 people) and store the leftover taco meat, queso and produce to make another nacho snack later in the week.
- This recipe can easily be personalized with your favorite nacho toppings such as: green onions, guacamole, jalapeño, canned green chiles or marinated jalapeño, pickled red onions, jackfruits, fresh tomatoes, etc.
- Choose thick and sturdy high-quality tortillas chips for best results and avoid flavored chips as well.