How to Make the Best Loaded Vegan Nachos

A close-up shot of a large plate of vegan nachos, piled high with walnut meat, dairy free nacho cheese sauce, and vegetables. Topped with sliced jalapenos.

In this post, I am sharing all my tips for making the best vegan nachos with flavor in every bite. Our vegetarian loaded nachos are stacked high and layered with spicy walnut meat, vegan nacho cheese, black beans, and ALL the veggie toppings. They’re naturally dairy-free, cholesterol-free, and plant-based but are also easily made gluten-free and oil-free. These meatless nachos are sure to be a food-fan-favorite at your next game day gathering or poolside party!


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If there’s one delicious dish that truly gathers a group together around a plate, it’s nachos. And I can understand why. They’re a beautifully controlled chaos of corn chips, meat, beans, cheese, and veggies!

The key to the best loaded vegan nachos can be summed up in one word: layering.

I first learned how to make great nachos while working in an exhibition-style bar kitchen in Boulder, Colorado. People would see me making them, making them BIG, and they’d want them! Orders were flowing in, and every ticket said “nachos.” 

At first, the owner wasn’t too fond of how big I was making these plates of nachos. But then my nachos made the local paper and became the establishment’s signature appetizer with people showing up just for them! (Needless to say, she was totally cool with the nachos after that!)

In this post, since I can’t share my actual nachos with you, I want to share with you instead, all those tips and tricks for making the best vegan nachos!

A photo of a big pile of vegan nachos on a white plate piled with spicy beef-style walnut meat, dairy free nacho cheese sauce, diced tomatoes and red onion, shredded lettuce, and sliced jalapenos. Extra toppings in clear bowls can be seen in the background.

What makes these the best vegan nachos?

  • They are piled high and packed with flavor from first chip to last. Who knew nachos without traditional cheese or meat could taste so good?!
  • These loaded vegan nachos are the ultimate snacketizer (snack / appetizer) to be enjoyed alone or with a few friends.
  • Plant-based nachos are totally and completely customizable to your tastes! Don’t like onions? Who needs ‘em? Throw on more jalapenos!
  • I included tips to make sure your pile of nachos stays secure and won’t slip all over the place. (Because you won’t want to waste a single bite!)

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An overhead shot of the ingredients in dairy free and vegetarian loaded nachos - walnut meat, black beans, scallions, shredded lettuce, jalapenos, diced tomatoes and red onion, salsa verde and hot sauce, dairy free nacho cheese sauce, and chips.

Components in Great Plant-Based Nachos

The possibilities with nachos are endless, but that may have you asking: What is the best combination for nachos? In this section, I’ll go over my key 3 components for making the best vegetarian and dairy free nachos. These are the chips, the MBCs, and toppings!

The Best Chips for Nachos

Chips are the heart of your nachos and your choice of chip is not a decision to be taken lightly. Make sure your choice of chip with integrity that can hold up under the weight of all the delicious toppings. That’s why I like to use a blend of thicker, hearty blue and yellow corn chips. The color choice is purely aesthetic, but the density of the chip should not be up for debate. 

To keep your nachos gluten-free, make sure you use corn chips and not flour-based chips – a pretty easy switch!

The MBCs of Vegetarian Nachos

The ABCs of any great nachos are the MBCs: meat, beans, and cheese. These are the base and foundation that will not only help bring all the flavors together but will also literally hold everything together. You could just categorize these in “toppings,” but they also deserve a special place and mention of their own.

The (Vegan) Meat: We love to use our spicy walnut beef to make healthy vegetarian nachos. It’s no-cook, full of flavor, and only takes a few minutes to throw together! If you want more of a chicken-inspired nacho, you can use our Tequila-Infused Vegan Taco Chicken or Tequila Lime Tofu Cutlets

For a store-bought vegan meat option, we recommend cooking up some Impossible or Beyond Beef. We also dig Gardein’s beefless crumbles (found in the freezer section). To add a little extra flavor in your store-bought plant-based meats, just season with a packet of taco seasoning while cooking. 

Another option would be to skip the meat entirely and just double up on the beans!

The Beans: We like to use mildly seasoned black beans for our loaded vegetarian nachos, but you can replace those with any type of beans you like. Pinto beans work well. So do refried beans, but make sure you get a can marked “vegetarian” because traditionally, these are made with lard.

The (Vegan) Nacho Cheese: We use our favorite 5-minute vegan cheese sauce for nachos. The flavor and texture are absolutely perfect for dairy free nachos! 

There are a lot of store-bought options for vegan nacho cheese. So, check your local grocery store if you don’t want to make it at home. I suggest using a vegan nacho cheese sauce rather than shreds because it helps everything stick together better.

Vegan Nacho Toppings

Don’t let the name fool you, toppings should be going ALL OVER the nachos, not just limited to the top. Included in this category are your veggies, like diced tomato and red onion, sliced scallions and jalapenos, and shredded lettuce to name a few! The other component to toppings is SAUCES. This is your vegan sour cream, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, etc. 

A process grid showing how to make the best vegan nachos - the first shot has a layer of dairy free nacho cheese sauce and black beans, the second has a layer of corn chips, vegan cheese, black beans, and walnut meat. The final shot shows a layer of diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce on top.

How to Make the Best Vegan Loaded Nachos

Tip 1: Create a no-slip grip for the bottom layer of chips.

Start your nacho tower by spreading a little dairy-free nacho cheese and beans on the bare plate. This will serve as a no-slip grip for your nachos. That way, if somebody goes in with a little too much vigor, the rest of the nachos don’t just slide right off the plate.

Tip 2: Create layers in your nachos.

After you have your no-slip grip, top it with a small layer of chips. Then, add a little bit of each of your MBCs and toppings. Don’t just plop and drop, but spread these items evenly around. Also, don’t overdo it with your toppings on this first layer. This is a lower, binding layer, so a little goes a long way here. Which brings me to my next tip…

Tip 3: Gravity is your friend.

Toppings will fall and fill in the bottom layers as the nachos get eaten. So, make sure as you’re building your nacho layers, you are increasing the amounts of toppings you use with each layer you build. 

Repeat this layering process at least two more times until it’s either too high to handle any more or you just clear run out of stuff to top it with!

An overhead shot of a large plate of vegan nachos, piled high with walnut meat, dairy free nacho cheese sauce, and vegetables. Topped with sliced jalapenos and surrounded by extra plant-based nacho toppings.

How to Serve Meatless Nachos

Serve these vegan nachos for an afternoon snack or at a party. We’ve kept the ingredient amounts flexible, as you’ll want to use whatever plate you’re using as a guide and follow our basic tips / process.

These vegan nachos can be served as a meal on their own for one person or a couple of friends. You can also serve them as part of a big snacketizer spread alongside our air-fried jackfruit taquitos or with this amazing vegetarian and dairy free replica of the crunchwrap supreme.

And if you really want to make it a party, these nachos also pair wonderfully with a nice Spanish red wine or Beaujolais, cold beer, or margaritas!

A photo of a big pile of vegan nachos on a white plate piled with spicy beef-style walnut meat, dairy free nacho cheese sauce, diced tomatoes and red onion, shredded lettuce, and sliced jalapenos. Extra toppings in clear bowls can be seen in the background.

When, yes when, you make these spicy vegan nachos, tell us EVERYTHING. What did you think? Who did you share it with? What did THEY think?! What sort of toppings did you use?

Leave a comment and rate the recipe below! Or tag @theplantpowercouple in your photos on Instagram and show us how high you got your nachos. (Use a tape measure or a banana for scale if you like!) 

Cheers!

How to Make the Best Loaded Vegan Nachos

Our vegetarian loaded nachos are stacked high and layered with spicy walnut meat, vegan nacho cheese, black beans, and ALL the veggie toppings. They’re naturally dairy-free, cholesterol-free, and plant-based but are also easily made gluten-free and oil-free. These meatless nachos are sure to be a food-fan-favorite at your next game day gathering or poolside party! We’ve kept the recipe amounts flexible, as you’ll want to use whatever plate you’re using as a guide and follow our basic tips / process.

15 minPrep Time:

15 minCook Time:

30 minTotal Time:

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Recipe Image

Ingredients

    For the chips:
  • Blue corn chips
  • Yellow or white corn chips
  • For the MBCs:
  • Beef-style walnut meat , tequila taco chik'n , or vegan taco meat of choice
  • Dairy-free nacho cheese sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • Black beans, refried beans, or pinto beans
  • For the toppings:
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced onion
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Scallions
  • Jalapenos
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa verde
  • See notes for additional toppings options.

Instructions

  1. Start by spreading a thin layer of vegan nacho cheese sauce and beans on the bare plate.
  2. Add a small layer of chips and top this with a little bit of each of all your MBCs and toppings.
  3. Don’t just plop and drop, but spread these items evenly around. Remember to start small and increase the amount of toppings as you build upward.
  4. Repeat this layering process at least 2 more times, increasing the amounts of toppings with each layer. Stop when it’s either too high to handle any more or you run out of stuff to top it with!

Notes

Other potential toppings: various hot or sweet peppers, black olives, grilled corn, chili, vegan sour cream, guacamole or diced avocado, cilantro leaves, imitation bacon bits (Many store-bought varieties are vegan!), salsa/pico de gallo

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