All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce

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5 from 5 reviews
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All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free

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Here it is: my favorite vegan “cheese” sauce that not only tastes amazing, but can also be used in a wide variety of dishes! Who knew that just a few simple ingredients could create such a silky, decadent, and pourable sauce? No, the recipe isn’t quite a dead ringer for traditional cheese sauce, but we think it’s delicious in its own right. This pairs perfectly with my Chili Cheese Nachos or Mac and Peas recipes from Oh She Glows Every Day, but is just as good heated up and used as a nacho dip for salsa, guacamole, or refried beans. It’s also fantastic drizzled over roasted or steamed broccoli or cauliflower. A big thanks to Ruth Tal’s Super Fresh cookbook for inspiring this versatile and wallet-friendly recipe.

Yield
1 cup (250 mL)
Soak time
overnight or 30 minutes
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (35 g) raw cashews, soaked*
  • 1 1/4 cups (190 g) peeled and diced yellow or red potatoes**
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) peeled and diced carrots**
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (8 to 11 g) nutritional yeast, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) grapeseed oil or refined coconut oil***
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37.5 mL) water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 medium (4 g) garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar, to taste
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Soak the cashews in a bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse. (For a quick-soak method, bring a small pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the cashews to the hot water and soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain and rinse.)
  2. Add potatoes and carrots to a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until fork tender. Drain. Alternatively, you can steam the veggies until cooked through.
  3. Add all ingredients except hot sauce to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. (See my tip for a food processor option.) If the mixture is too thick, a splash of water or oil can help it along. Sample the sauce and adjust seasonings as desired. Add Sriracha (or other hot sauce) as preferred, if you’d like to give the cheese a spicy kick! The sauce will keep for up to one week refrigerated in an airtight container.

Tips:

* If your blender has a hard time blending cashews smooth, you may omit them (or try using a tablespoon of raw cashew butter instead!).

 

** To cut down on cooking time, be sure the potatoes and carrots are diced finely.

 

*** If you don’t have either of these oils on hand, a light-tasting olive oil should do the trick. Be sure not to use virgin coconut oil as it can impart a coconut flavour in the sauce (unless you’re down with that of course!). Refined coconut oil has no flavour.

 

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, a heavy-duty food processor will work in a pinch. Note that you may have to process the mixture for several minutes, and keep in mind that if you use cashews they won’t fully break down like they do in a Vitamix, resulting in a slightly more textured sauce.

 

Make it nut-free: simply omit the cashews. The sauce won’t be quite as rich, but still tastes great. You can also add an extra tablespoon of nutritional yeast if omitting the cashews.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer Malka November 9, 2017

I made this amazing sauce for a quinoa broccoli casserole – SO GOOD! Yet, as I was spooning the left over sauce into my mouth, I thought, there must be a similar recipe that could stand alone as an alternative to yogurt… Does something like this exist?

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2 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 10, 2017

Hey Jennifer, haha you sound like me! :) I do have a “cheater’s” blender yogurt recipe using coconut flesh, but nothing else at the time. I will have to get the wheels turning! http://ohsheglows.com/2015/05/20/super-thick-coconut-yogurt-the-shortcut-method/

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3 Lindsay Szymanski November 13, 2017
Recipe Rating:

This was awesome!

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4 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 14, 2017

So happy to hear you enjoyed it Lindsay!

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5 marta November 15, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Delicious! Best faux cheese sauce I’ve tried, and I’ve tried aplenty! Thanks, Angela!

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6 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2017

So happy you love it so much Marta! Thanks for trying it out

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7 Donna Layton November 16, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Made this last night to put on a baked potato with lentil chili. Was so yummy!!! Have you ever frozen this?

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8 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 17, 2017

That sounds like a great combo! I love it with my chili and cheese nachos from book #2 as well. I have tried freezing it. There is a slight texture change after thawing (it’s not quite as smooth…I believe which is due to the potato), but it’s fairly slight. Otherwise it freezes quite well. I like to freeze it in a freezer safe zip bag with the air pressed out.

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9 Renata November 18, 2017

Hi Angela!
Congrat for your 9 years! What do you think, what should I use? We don’t eat potato. Thank you

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10 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 18, 2017

Thanks Renata! I don’t know of a sub for potato in this recipe. I would say sweet potato, but it’ll obviously changed the flavour to lend more sweet. If you try anything please report back! :)

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11 Jessica November 24, 2017

Trying using cauliflower or squash :)

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12 Amy November 20, 2017

Hi Angela!

I absolutely adore your creations and have included recipes from your cookbooks and website into our weekly regimen of meal planning. The one thing I struggle with is finding a good cheese sauce substitute that doesn’t contain any nuts! I Struggle with having to maintain a wheat, dairy, and nut free diet due to dietary allergies and have not yet been able to find a good “cheese” base that doesn’t contain cashews! Do you have any suggestions for a nut-free “cheese” sauce alternative?

Thank you :)

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13 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 20, 2017

Hey Amy, Thank you so much for your kind words! For this recipe in particular, you can totally omit the cashews and it still tastes great (it just lose a tiny bit of richness). Hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

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14 Eva November 21, 2017

I’ve seen recipes that use white beans instead so you can give that a try instead of cashews!

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15 Markeeta November 21, 2017

Sunflower seeds are a good substitute. 👩🏽‍🍳

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16 Betsy November 21, 2017

This cheese sauce is delicious mixed with rotel, with tortilla chips. It has the same warm, smooth consistency of the velveeta rotel dip that is so popular with non-vegans, but so much healthier. Thanks!

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17 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 22, 2017

I’m so happy you love it Betsy! I would agree about the Velveeta comparison!

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18 Louise November 27, 2017

I love this recipe!! I have a bunch of potatoes to use up and wondered you’ve ever frozen this sauce and how it does. Thanks!

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19 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2017

Hey Louise, I have tried freezing it! It freezes and thaws fairly well, however due to the potatoes the texture changes slightly after thawing. It becomes a tiny bit grainy maybe, but it’s very slight. If you try it out I’d love to know your opinion. Hope this helps!

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20 Becca November 27, 2017

Does anyone know the nutrition facts for this and how much each serving?

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21 Lisa December 6, 2017

I would like to preface this comment with the statement that I normally really like Angela’s recipes. Tonight, I made a double batch of this “cheese” sauce to toss with whole wheat fussili and chick’n style soy curs. I found the texture of the sauce really nice, but unfortunately I also found it ti be too plain in taste, and definitely not as cheesy tasting, when compared with the silky vegan cheezy sauce I usually make. To kick the flavor and cheesiness level up of the double batch, I added an extra one tablespoon of lemon juic , 2 tsp white miso, 1 tsp dijon mustard, and a few shakes of Cholula sauce. This did the trick Very tasty!

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22 Lisa December 6, 2017

In my previous comment I neglected to mention that I also added in 1.5 tsp granulated onion power. =)

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23 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017

Hey Lisa, I love your cheese sauce hacks!! Thanks for sharing. :) It’s an easy recipe to taste and tweak to your preference which is so nice.

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24 Meg December 7, 2017

Does soaking the cashews remove the cashew-y flavor? I’ve tried cashew cheese before without soaking, and it just tasted like nuts to me. Not what I wanted on my macaroni! Thanks for sharing.

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25 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 8, 2017

Hey Meg, The cashew flavour is quite light in this sauce since there’s only 1/4 cup. I don’t find it’s a prominent flavour in this case! I’m not sure whether soaking reduces the cashew flavour though…maybe a tiny bit since it adds a bit of water?

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26 Melissa December 8, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Hi! This was delicious! I accidentally doubled the amount of cashews but went with it and just added a bit more (not really double, just a generous rounding up) of all the liquids – which ended up yielding the perfect amount to amply cover the lentil bolognese casserole without any gaps.

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27 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 8, 2017

So happy you enjoyed it Melissa! A double batch is always a good idea :)

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28 Chantal December 12, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Really yummy sauce! I am wondering if it is possible to freeze though?

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29 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 12, 2017

Glad it was a hit, Chantal!
There is a slight change in texture when freezing and thawing (due to the potato, I think), but it works pretty well. Let me know if you try it out!

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