Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce 🌱 The creamiest, dreamiest, tastiest cheese sauce made with healthy plant-based ingredients like cashews, carrots, potatoes and fresh lemon. Gluten-free and no added oil. Very vegan & very good!
When my husband and I became vegan, the one food item we missed was cheese. There's just something about the bright flavor and creamy texture that cheese adds to so many recipes like mac & cheese, pasta, veggies, tacos and nachos. Who doesn't love dipping french bread into a luscious cheese fondue?
Problem was, there just weren't any great tasting vegan cheeses available in stores. There were a few products trying to be cheese, but to be honest, the taste and textures were more like plastic. We realized if we wanted to enjoy what we loved about cheese, we needed to figure out a way to make it ourselves.
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How we created this easy vegan cheese sauce
We tried several different recipes, but couldn't find anything quite right, so we enlisted our daughter's creative cooking skills and uncanny knack at dialing in flavors and texture. Sure enough, she found just the right combination and balance of ingredients to make the best vegan cheese sauce we ever tasted!
This delicious sauce has the tart bite of sharp cheddar cheese with the smoothest creamy texture. It enhances anything you pour it on: pasta, potatoes, meatballs, cauliflower, asparagus, fries, veggie burgers, nachos, tacos, soft pretzels and more. Whatever you like with cheese, this is your sauce!
Why we love this recipe
- It's delicious
- Creamy, smooth and cheesy
- Made with all plant-based ingredients
- No added oil
- Only a few basic ingredients
- So easy to prepare
- One batch is enough for several dishes
- Did I mention it's delicious?
How to make this easy vegan cheese sauce
This recipe is so easy to prepare! With just a few basic ingredients, you can whip up the most luscious & tasty 100% plant-based cheese sauce!
Note: We recommend using a high-speed blender with a 64 ounce container to make this recipe. Otherwise, you may need to blend it in smaller batches, then combine each batch into one.
🥕See the printable recipe card below for quantities & details
Cashews - raw and unsalted
Non-dairy milk - we prefer rice milk, almond or cashew based milk
Potato - we use typically use russets but Yukon gold will work too
Carrots - orange works best for the color
Nutritional yeast - we love this brand
Lemon juice - fresh (preferred) or bottled
One of the key ingredients in this recipe is nutritional yeast, aka "nooch". Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty, savory, umami flavor that many people enjoy sprinkled on foods like potatoes, pasta, popcorn, pizza and veggies. We also use it to make a quick & easy 4-ingredient vegan parmesan. Learn more about nutritional yeast in the FAQ's below.
First, soak the cashews. They need to be soaked before using if you want your cheese sauce to be super smooth and creamy. If I know I'm going to make a batch of cheese sauce the next day, I'll soak the cashews in water (refrigerated) overnight.
A faster method is to cover the cashews in boiling water and allow them to sit for a couple hours. You can also place the cashews covered in water in a saucepan and boil for about 10 minutes on the stovetop until they plump up and soften.
2. Wash and peel potatoes. Cut into pieces.
3. Wash and peel carrots. Cut into large pieces.
4. Place carrots and potatoes into a deep pot.
5. Cover completely with water (about 1 inch over the top). Place lid over pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a low boil.
6. Cook carrots and potatoes until tender but not mushy. Remove from pot and drain off all the water.
7. Finally, place carrots, potatoes, cashews, and remaining ingredients into a blender.
8. Purée at high speed until thoroughly smooth. That's it! Easy peasy & cheesy!
Here's just a few delish ways to enjoy this scrumptious vegan cheese sauce.
It's fantastic on a baked potato sprinkled with chives.
Create a festive nachos bar with a basket of fresh tortilla chips, guacamole, jalapeños, salsas, black beans, our refreshing watermelon pico de gallo, and a generous serving of this amazing vegan queso cheese!
This cheese sauce recipe is a key ingredient in preparing this amazing vegan broccoli cheese pot pie. It's absolutely delicious!
Who can resist and a plate of good old fashioned simple macaroni and cheese smothered in the creamiest, cheesiest sauce? Yes please!
Vegan Cheese Sauce FAQ's
Why use cashews in vegan cheese sauce?
Cashews provide a creamy texture and rich flavor, contributing to the smooth and velvety consistency of the cheese sauce.
Can I substitute cashews with another nut?
While cashews work best for creaminess, sunflower seeds can be an alternative option for those with nut allergies. I haven't tried it personally, but have heard others have with good results.
What role do potatoes and carrots play in the sauce?
Potatoes and carrots add bulk and help create a cheese-like color and texture. They also contribute to the nutritional profile of the sauce.
Is the lemon juice necessary, and why?
Yes, lemon juice adds a tangy flavor to mimic the acidity found in traditional cheese sauces. It also helps balance the richness of the cashews. Lemon provides just the right sharp cheddar-like taste to this vegan cheese sauce.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is the same type of yeast used for bread baking and brewing beer - with a few differences.This yeast is grown specifically to be used as a food product. The yeast cells are killed during manufacturing and not alive in the final product. It is used in cooking and has a cheesy, nutty or savory flavor.
*Reprinted from healthline.com
How should I heat cheese sauce?
I suggest heating the cheese sauce in a saucepan on a stovetop over low heat, stirring frequently until it reaches your desired temperature. You can also microwave the sauce covered in a microwave safe container in short increments of 10-15 seconds until desired temperature is reached. Be careful not to over heat it in a microwave, as the sauce may caramelize and possibly burn.
How long can I store cheese sauce?
Leftover cheese sauce can be stored refrigerated in a covered container up to 4 days and can be frozen up to 3 months.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please let me know by giving it a ★★★★★ rating & leave a comment below. Thanks a bunch!🥕
Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce
- high speed blender
- mixing bowl
- large strainer or colander
- Vegetable peeler
Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight - see notes below
- 1 cup non-dairy milk we use rice milk, almond or cashew based milk
- 1 large potato cut into large pieces and boiled until tender
- 2 whole carrots cut into large pieces and boiled until tender
- 1-½ tablespoon nutritional yeast this our favorite brand
- ¼ cup lemon juiced - approx one whole lemon
- 2 teaspoon salt fine
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Soak cashews covered in room temperature water overnight or cover in boiling water and allow to soak for 2 hours. Drain in strainer and rinse with fresh water.
- Peel potatoes and carrots and cut into large pieces. Place in 4 qt or larger stovetop pot, cover with water (about 2" over veggies) and cover with lid. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and drain in colander or strainer.
- Place cashews, potatoes, carrots, and remaining ingredients into blender. Run at high speed until thoroughly pureed and creamy.
- Sauce can be used heated or cold, depending on how you like it. To heat, pour amount needed into a stove top pan over low heat, stirring frequently until desired temperature.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended