All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce
1 cup (250 mL)
overnight or 30 minutes
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.
- 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)
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
* 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.
I’ve wasted a lot of ingredients in the past on vegan “cheese” sauces that were just blah. This one is spectacular!!! I used it to pour over roasted broccoli and now I’m sitting here with a spoon in the blender trying to lick up every last bit. Thank you SOOO much for such a fantastic recipe. I can always count on your website to steer me to some fab noms!!!! You are a blessing to vegans everywhere!!!
haha I can relate to the spoon cleaning the blender!! I hate wasting even 1 teaspoon of this sauce. So glad you love it so much too!
I love it so much. I make a double batch every time and my husband and I go crazy for it. I like it the most with Mexican food. I’m not a vegan but I don’t like to eat cheese that often so I like to use this as a substitute. Thank you Angela!
I love that you double it…we often do too! Nothing like pouring this over some loaded nachos =D
Oh my goodness I’m surprised at my own willpower to share and not eat it by the spoonful! Added a spoonful of miso but otherwise followed exactly.
Really great recipe!
Thank you so much for your recipes! I have two of your cookbooks and use them frequently. I have made this recipe before and liked it. But this time I didn’t have white potatoes on hand. So I used a sweet potato. Not as good. The sweetness takes away from the cheese flavor.
I just made this last night for our nachos – delicious! The only change was I used rice wine vinegar because I didn’t have any white wine vinegar. Very easy to make and heated it up in my Vitamix. I’ve made other varieties with potatoes, carrots and cashews, but this is the best recipe yet. Thank you!
i have made so many vegan cheese sauces and this is the ONLY one that truly satisfies. It is absolutely delicious! I will make this again and again! Is there any hope that reducing or eliminating the oil will not effect the deliciousness?
I’m a newbie to your site and recipes. Thanks for this recipe! I made a double-batch today and it’s easy and delicious.
I made a few modifications —
#1) I put the softened the potatoes, carrots, cashews in the instant pot. This way, no need to soak the cashews in advance. I put it on 5 minutes, high pressure and let is natural release for over an hour (as I was running errands. I doubt the full hour is necessary).
#2) After blending the ingredients, I decided to add paprika (to give it more of an orange color), 1/8 cup more nutritional yeast, shakes of garlic powder and shakes of onion powder.
I look forward to using this sauce on the Cheesy Lentil Bolognese Casserole (your recipe!) and some tacos that I’m making later this week.
I will def make this again!
I was thinking of adding smoked paprika next time for my mexican dishes. :)
As an avid mac and cheese fan, this has made going vegan soon much easier. My favourite recipe probably of all time. Thank you for all that you do! I have never tried a recipe of yours that I didn’t like.
If you need to omit the nuts, white beans would work well as a substitute!
Made this to go with some soft pretzels I baked and it was delicious! While it didn’t necessarily taste like cheese it was flavorful and great with the pretzels+
Can I leave out the carrots? I have an intolerance.
Love this sauce, does anyone know how long it keeps or if you can freeze it?
Thanks for such an incredible recipe!! My husband is a die-hard “real food” eater lol (dairy & meat). He really loved this dip! I’ve got your cookbook and am genuinely impressed at how good the dishes taste. I’m not even vegan- I just love your recipes!
Absolutely delicious! Esp w/ the sriracha kick
Does this recipe work well for a fondue — or does it need adjustments?
BEST cheese sauce I have ever had. I have made very similar recipes to this one, same ingredients and everythig, but never as good as this one! You got the measurements down perfectly. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!
Have you ever tried a different nut? Walnut or almond?