Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (2024)

Last modified: . Originally posted: By Sophia DeSantis

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This vegan cheese sauce is so creamy and amazing you won't believe it's made with a healthy vegetable base! A huge hit even with dairy eaters.

This is absolutely the best vegan cheese sauce recipe. It's made in a blender and perfect for mac and cheese, baked casseroles and anything else that requires cheese sauce!

Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (1)
Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (2)

This recipe was originally published on 7/8/2015

It's pure magic how you can take vegetables and create this incredibly creamy healthy cheese sauce, without even using milk! I know you probably doubt me, but I promise you need this. I have used this strategy to make my vegan white cheese sauce and my vegan nacho cheese sauce with success!

Ingredients

The gooey base of this cheesy vegan sauce comes from potatoes. When you blend cooked potatoes at high speed, it creates a stretchy texture.

I figured this out one day when I was making the pizza crust for my Thai Chickpea and Veggies Pizza and used a blender instead of a food processor.

You will notice this vegan cheese sauce has no nutritional yeast. I am not a nutritional yeast fan, and I don't really think it tastes cheesy, but if you like it feel free to add some in!

Here is what you need to make this recipe:

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How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce

Thank goodness this recipe is so easy to make, because it's in our regular rotation! Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Load all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend on high until you get a creamy gooey consistency.
  3. Use nice and hot!
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Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (5)
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Preparation Tips

When it comes to creating the best vegan cheese sauce, there are few key things to remember:

  • If you have a regular good blender instead of a high speed one you can still get creamy awesomeness by grinding the cashews with a coffee grinder first. Grind them dry and simply add to the blender with everything else.
    • You can also soak them overnight before boiling with the veggies, but this still may not give as creamy of a result as the grinding.
  • You can thin out the consistency of the vegetable cheese sauce with some extra liquid.
    • Use either water, dairy free milk, water from the boiled veggies, or pasta water if making mac and cheese.
  • When you measure the veggies, measure them packed in not just loosely scooped up.
  • Start with a little salt, and once everything is blended taste the cheese sauce. Add more salt if necessary.

What to Make With This Cheesy Vegan Sauce

This plant based cheese sauce recipe is amazing with everything! Seriously there are SO many things you can do, so little time. Here are some of my top faves:

  1. Mac and cheese of course, SO good.
  2. Drizzle it over veggies, okay maybe it's more of a drench than a drizzle.
  3. Enjoy as a dip with chips, crackers, or veggies, or apple slices.
  4. Load it onto a baked potato.
  5. Nacho cheese dip, I add chopped nacho jalapeño slices.
  6. Top your favorite tacos.
  7. 7 Layer Taco Dip.
  8. Roasted Poblano Mac and Cheese.
  9. Mexican Nacho Burger.
  10. Smother Oven Baked Fries.
  11. Pair with Vegan Pigs in a Blanket.
  12. Top Vegan Scrambled Eggs.
  13. Use on your favorite homemade pizza.
  14. Include it in your favorite dairy free cheese casseroles.
  15. Eat it with a spoon...Don't judge, just try it.
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Substitution Suggestions

I tried a variety of combinations for this dairy free cheese sauce, I did after all spend years of trial and error, and the ingredients listed are the best for creating the correct flavor and texture. Here a few swaps you can experiment with:

  • If you can't have cashews you can try other nuts such as macadamias, walnuts, or pine nuts. Just note that the flavor will be affected.
  • For a completely nut free sauce try white beans or sunflower seeds. (I didn't care for the sunflower seed version but others have.)
  • You can also leave out the cashews without replacing, but the texture will not be as thick and creamy.
  • Red potatoes are suggested but any other starchy potato will do. Avoid sweet potatoes or other root veggies.
  • Chickpea miso has the right flavor, white miso can be used but the taste will be more mild. Some have even completely left it out and still liked the flavor!

Flavor Suggestions

You can adapt this recipe to make different flavors of vegan cheese sauces. Any time you mix in an addition, start with a little and blend in more a little at a time until you get the flavor you want.

If you want chunks of the add ins, pulse them in instead of blending, or stir in with a spoon.

  • Salsa
  • Jalapeños - fresh or pickled
  • Taco seasoning
  • Chili seasoning
  • Chives
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Broccoli (cooked and chopped)
  • Caramelized onions
  • Vegan sausage
  • Mushroom bacon
  • I prefer this vegan cheese sauce without nutritional yeast, but for those that are a fan feel free to shake some in.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

  • Prep this vegan cheese sauce recipe in advance by cooking the veggies and roast the garlic. Store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use.
  • Store the prepared cheese sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • You can freeze this for up to 3 months so you can have vegan cheese sauce at your fingertips any time!
    • When you defrost, leave it on the counter all day so it can slowly come to room temp.
    • Feel free to return the defrosted sauce to the blender
  • You can reheat this in the microwave or in a pot with a splash of nondairy milk (I use cashew) and mix well. Add splashes of milk and mix until you have the right consistency. It may need more salt depending on how much milk you add.

How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce in an Instant Pot

Instead of boiling the vegetables, you can use your pressure cooker.

  1. Put all the ingredients (except for roasted garlic and lemon juice) into an instant pot with 2 cups of water.
  2. Set it to manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
  3. Let it naturally release.
  4. Blend in a high speed blender until smooth.

Common Questions

What is vegan cheese sauce made of?

There are a number of recipes out there that all use different methods for creating cheese sauces with only plant-based items. This recipes uses potatoes, veggies, cashews, and seasonings to create a thick and creamy sauce.

What do vegans use for cheese?

There are some plant-based store bought cheeses available, but it's best to make your own with whole foods!

How do vegans get cheese flavor?

Many use dairy free milk and nutritional yeast to capture the cheese flavor, but I've had better luck with veggies and chickpea miso.

Is there a vegan cheese that tastes like cheese?

This sauce for one! Vegan Parmesan is also really easy to make and tastes so good!

More Vegan Cheese Recipes

Now that you know how easy it is to make your own homemade vegan cheese sauce, you need more varieties to try! Here are more plant based cheese recipes I know you'll love:

  • Cream Cheese
  • Feta Cheese
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • Fondue
  • Cotija Cheese
Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (8)

Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (9)

Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe

Sophia DeSantis

This vegan cheese sauce is so creamy and amazing you won't believe it's made with a healthy vegetable base! A huge hit even with dairy eaters.

Print Recipe Pin Recipe Shop Ingredients

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Cook Time 35 minutes mins

Total Time 40 minutes mins

Course Sauce

Cuisine American

Servings 7

Calories 94 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked potato (about 3-4 potatoes, see note)
  • 2 tablespoons cooked red pepper (about ⅓ of a medium sized pepper)
  • 3 tablespoons cooked orange carrot (about 4-5 baby carrots or one medium sized)
  • 5 tablespoons cooked sweet or yellow onion (about ½ a small)
  • ½ cup raw cashews (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic (about 2-4 cloves, depending on size)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon chickpea miso (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (can use less or more depending on taste preference)
  • Your favorite pasta if making Mac and Cheese

Shop Ingredients on Jupiter

Instructions

  • Roast the garlic by peeling and wrapping it in tin foil with a splash of veggie broth. Roast at 400 F (205 C), in a regular or toaster oven, while you cook the veggies.

  • Put potatoes (peel if you don't want specks of skin), red pepper, carrots, onion and cashews in a pot and cover with water. If you don't have a high speed blender and are grinding the cashews, then don't boil but grind them dry and place them in the blender.

  • Cook over high heat until water boils, about 15 minutes if uncovered. Turn heat to medium and boil another 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

  • When done, drain water (keeping some to thin out sauce if prefer a thinner sauce), separate veggies and put the cashews in the blender. I use a fork to fish out the veggies, then drain the cashews over a pasta strainer.

  • Measure out the needed amount of each veggie and place each in the blender. Add the rest of the ingredients.

  • Blend on high until you get a creamy gooey consistency. If you have a tamper tool use it to help mix the sauce as it blends. If you don’t have one, then you will need to stop and push down the ingredients every once in a while.

  • If you want to thin it out, add some of the reserved cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency. Use nice and hot!

To make the ultimate Mac and Cheese:

  • Cook your pasta according to package directions.

  • Drain pasta reserving about 1 cup pasta water.

  • Add the pasta back into the pot and add desired amount of cheese sauce.

  • Then add pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well in between additions, until you get the desired consistency for your Mac and Cheese. If your pasta is too starchy (as some gluten free pastas are) you can also use regular water or even non dairy milk to do this. Add salt if needed, it most likely will since the sauce is no longer as concentrated. Devour!

Notes

  • Makes 3 ½ cups sauce. Serving size for nutrition info is ½ cup.
  • Nutrition info is for cheese sauce only.
  • I used red potatoes but any starchy potato will work, just don’t use sweet. It also won't work to substitute with something that is not an actual potato (such as another root vegetable).
  • If you are not using a high speed blender, you can grind the dry cashews into a fine powder using a coffee grinder (do not boil them for this method). You can also soak them overnight prior to boiling with the veggies or just boil them with the veggies.
  • You can make this nut free by eliminating the nuts, however you will lose some of the thickness and creaminess. It will still be pretty good in taste, but just lacking some of those elements. You can also try subbing with another nut if you are allergic to cashews, I suggest walnuts or macadamias, however the flavor will be different. I did try it with multiple nuts and liked the taste of the cashews best.
  • If you don’t have chickpea miso, you can try using a white miso although it will be a little more mild in flavor so you may need more. See the comments for others that have tried using white miso.
  • I did not add any liquid to this when I made it, but depending on what you use it for, you may want to thin it out with some water, water from the boiled veggies or pasta water if making mac and cheese.
  • You can reheat this in the microwave or in a pot with a splash of nondairy milk (I use cashew) and mix well. Add splashes of milk and mix until you have the right consistency. It may need more salt depending on how much milk you add.
  • You can also freeze leftovers in a freezer safe container as it freezes great. Defrost slowly when ready to eat. You may think it didn't freeze well, but as you heat it up the consistency comes back!

Tips to prep ahead:

  • Cook the veggies and roast the garlic. Store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use.

Baby/toddler food idea:

  • This can be mixed into any baby food or be used for a toddler as a dip. You could also just blend the veggies on their own for baby.

UPDATE 2/2019:

I had a reader make this with success using her instapot for the veggies. She threw all the ingredients into the instant pot with 2 cups of water (she put the garlic in raw). Set it to manual high pressure for 5 minutes, let it naturally release then blended in a high speed blender until smooth.

Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 478mgPotassium: 274mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1230IUVitamin C: 6.9mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.

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  1. Marika Burton

    Is there a substitute for cashews? Cashews give me arthritis.

    Reply

    • Sophia DeSantis

      Hi Marika, unfortunately the cashews are the key to the flavor and creaminess of this recipe. You can read through the comments and see some things that others have done who can’t have cashews but overall I can’t vouch for the result. A few have tried using sunflower seeds (I personally think the flavor comes through too much), some have tried more potato mixed with white beans or even some cauliflower. But as I said cashews are the key to this.

      Reply

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Best Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe - Veggies Don't Bite (2024)

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