All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 8, 2017

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4.9 from 16 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.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1/4 cup (60 mL) | Calories 160 calories | Total Fat 11 grams
Saturated Fat 1.5 grams | Sodium 280 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 14 grams
Fiber 2 grams | Sugar 2 grams | Protein 4 grams

Recipe makes 1 cup (250 mL).
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.

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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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

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Lori May 21, 2018 at 2:16 pm

I’ve not tried making a cheese sauce before, so I’d like to get your thoughts on using safflower oil in place of the grapeseed or refined coconut oil, as I don’t have either of those and know that safflower oil is very mild flavored. Do you think that would be an acceptable substitute for your recipe?

Reply

Lori June 16, 2018 at 11:55 am

FYI-Safflower oil worked fine. I also didn’t have white wine vinegar so i used rice vinegar & this still turned out great!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) June 18, 2018 at 7:53 am

Thanks for following up…that’s great news :)

Reply

Kat June 27, 2018 at 3:32 am
Recipe Rating:

Great recipe. I’ve made this ‘blend veggies and cashews and you won’t believe how cheesy it is!’ type of recipe before and have been severely unimpressed. That said – this one is great. I subbed the garlic for garlic powder (1/4 tsp) and oil for sunflower oil – super tasty & tangy! I made it for the Cheesy Lentil Bolognese Casserole – yum!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) June 27, 2018 at 8:52 am

I’m so glad it passed the taste test! I hope you love the casserole…it’s one of my fave dishes. So comforting!

Reply

Katie August 6, 2018 at 9:59 am

I am allergic to potatoes. Is there a good substitute for potatoes in this recipe? Maybe cauliflower or turnips??

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) August 9, 2018 at 7:11 am

Hey Katie! I have heard that some readers have successfully used cauliflower in this recipe, but I have yet to try it out myself. I’d love to hear how it goes if you do. :)

Reply

anna pace September 8, 2018 at 5:18 pm
Recipe Rating:

I’ve made this wonderful recipe many times, and will offer a couple of modifications I use to make it more
cheese like in flavor: use 1/2 the amount of Nutritional yeast (many palates don’t like the taste, so using 1/2 the amount is just enough to add flavoring, without saying it ‘tastes like’ Nutritional yeast. I also don’t use the vinegar…it simply doesn’t need it!

Reply

Melissa Weir September 10, 2018 at 11:05 am
Recipe Rating:

Tasty! I turned up the heat by adding half a jalapeno and used it on nachos and it was great.

I’m going to try another batch in a casserole soon. So happy to have found a cheezy sauce to use, because I really miss the real thing.

Thanks.
Melissa

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2018 at 8:51 am

Hi Melissa, I’m so happy it was a hit! I love adding jalapeño too…the best!

Reply

Jenn September 10, 2018 at 7:37 pm

I am in the minority here. While the taste was good overall, the texture was gluey. Any thoughts on what to change?

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2018 at 8:02 am

Hey Jenn, The potatoes definitely are responsible for that bit of “gluey” texture (which oddly enough, many people love as it has a tiny bit of stretch like a regular cheese sauce), but if you want you can try swapping the potato for cooked cauliflower. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard from readers who enjoyed it. :) I’d love to hear how it goes!

Reply

Amanda September 18, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Does anyone know if this will freeze well? I want to make some breakfast burritos to freeze and have ready to go. Thanks!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) September 19, 2018 at 10:25 am

Hey Amanda, I love your idea of having this cheese sauce on-hand for breakfast burritos! I’m happy to say it freezes beautifully. There’s a slight change in the texture when thawing (from the potatoes I think), but it works well overall!

Reply

Becca September 23, 2018 at 9:11 pm

I have found that using my food processor to make cashew butter first in recipes like this gives the end result the same creamy texture as using a Vitamix. Looking forward to trying this recipe b y subbing sweet potatoes.

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) September 24, 2018 at 7:39 am

Hey Becca, I’d love to hear how the sweet potato swap goes!

Reply

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