Paleo Nacho Cheese Sauce

Paleo Nacho Cheese on a plate of tortilla chips


When I tell stories about the way we used to eat growing up, Sam's Club and the Schwan truck always come up. Except I used to think it was the “Swan man!” I remember that tanish-yellow truck pulling up and delivering all of our favorite foods-  pizza bagels, corn dogs, pot pies, breakfast burritos, you name it. And Sam's Club – well my mom shopped there for our bulk items – including more pizza bagels, corn dogs, and my favorite – the vat of nacho cheese sauce that came in a massive tin can. We would open it up and scoop out what we wanted and then cover it in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for weeks on end. It never crossed my mind back then that real cheese probably wouldn't have lasted that long! Nor that real cheese doesn't have that saucy consistency once melted!

I've been a big nacho sauce or queso and chips fan for as long as I can remember. If it was on a menu, I ordered it. I mean – we're talking the kind at ball parks, movie theaters, and gas stations. And of course if there was a “real” queso dish on a menu at a Mexican restaurant, I was definitely all in.

After going gluten-free, and then grain-free, I learned that most of those saucy cheese dishes use wheat flour to help them stay viscous and not stringy like normal melted cheese. Then I went dairy-free and my beloved queso was out completely.

I was making my new Instant Pot Mexican Chicken Chowder and happened to have some Taro chips nearby so I dipped a few in the leftover soup after I had eaten all of the chicken and chunks of veggies out of it. It reminded me a little of nacho cheese sauce and it was like the heavens opened up. I tinkered with the ingredients that went into that soup and thickened it a little and this Paleo-friendly, lactose free Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe was born!

While I don't tolerate cassava and tapioca (see my cassava-baby-belly post on my IG!!), I had to use the one and only grain-free tortilla chip by Siete brand for this photo shoot to complete the wool-over-your-eyes look I was going for. Sure looks like grain and dairy doesn't it?! I normally use Terra brand taro chips or plantain chips to enjoy this with, but it also is delicious with carrot sticks. Plop a scoop of fresh guac on there and some red onions and olives and you have full-blown nachos.

A note on the salsa – my favorite to use is a local, fresh store-bought by Casa Sanchez. Look for fresh salsas in the refrigerated cases, usually somewhere near the eggs or dairy. Ingredients should be super simple – tomatillos, jalapeños, onions, garlic, salt, lime, cilantro. I also have a recipe in my Meals Made Simple cookbook if you want to make your own, or this is a super simple recipe you could make as well. We buy mild salsa, or if making it at home – I remove the seeds from the pepper and only use a half of a pepper. So just do it to your taste.

I hope you guys love this paleo nacho cheese sauce! I've also heard from a few people who got the recipe early that their kids love dipping broccoli in it! Mom win!!

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Paleo Nacho Cheese Sauce


SERVES: 3 cups

Cuisine: American

Category: Appetizer

PREP TIME: 5 mins

COOK TIME: 15 mins TOTAL TIME: 20 mins


  • 6 ounces peeled and cubed Hannah sweet potato, or other white-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 cup)*
  • 3 ounces peeled and diced carrots (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken bone broth
  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh store-bought roasted tomatillo salsa**
  • 3 teaspoons arrowroot powder (or 2 teaspoons tapioca starch)
  • For Serving: Chips of choice**, guacamole, red onions, cilantro, sliced black olives

*White potatoes will also work if you tolerate them. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes will also work but will make this a little more sweet.

**Read post above for tips

– To make this vegan – substitute veggie stock and use a dairy-free butter alternative of your choice in place of the ghee

– Tapioca starch will make this sauce more “stretchy” like real cheese, but we tolerate arrowroot better.


  1. Put the potatoes, carrots, chicken stock, ghee, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic cloves, and salsa in the bowl of an electric pressure cooker. Secure the lid and turn the valve to seal. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  2. Release the steam and remove the lid. Transfer contents to a blender and carefully blend with the arrowroot powder on high until very smooth.
  3. Return the mixture to the pot in the pressure cooker and set the machine to sauté on high. Whisk constantly until bubbling and thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the machine and remove the bowl from the cooker.
  4. Serve hot with chips and toppings of choice. Store leftover sauce tightly covered in the refrigerator for 1 week. Reheat in a saucepan on low heat for 5 minutes.

For stovetop: Put the potatoes, carrots, chicken stock, ghee, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic cloves, and salsa in a skillet. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender. Blend, then return to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until thickened, whisking constantly.

Keywords: glutenfree, paleo, sauce, cheese, nachos, nacho