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Best Vegan Cheese Sauce

When I first switched over to a healthy plant-based lifestyle back in 2013, one thing that I really missed was CHEESE. Cheese for pizza, tacos, baked potatoes, lasagna, and so much more. That’s why I came up with this amazing best vegan cheese sauce recipe ever!

This is the BEST cheese sauce because it’s…

  • Versatile and can be made with cashews OR white beans
  • Flavor-packed
  • Creamy
  • Cheeesy
  • Veggie-loaded
  • Customizable
  • Low-fat
  • Vegan
  • Oil-free
  • Freezable

Vegan cheese options

Though there were a few packaged vegan cheese sauces available, all of them were loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat, and that is something I was trying to avoid. I had already been able to bring my blood pressure and cholesterol down dramatically (from 220 to 141, and my husband’s from 305 to 157), and we needed a healthier option.

One day I was browsing vegetarian online recipe sites and found a beautiful picture of a cheese sauce but, unfortunately, when I looked at the ingredient list it too had some unhealthy ingredients like coconut oil. Did you know that coconut oil is 90% saturated fat? Lard is only 40%! Check out this short video about the nutrition in coconut oil.

Since most of the ingredients were from whole food plant-foods, I decided to try Terri Tweaking it to see what I could come up with. After only about 30-minutes playing around with it in the kitchen, it was amazingly delicious. It’s by far the best vegan cashew cheese sauce!

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Best vegan cheese sauce recipe ever with Three Versions

1st Version: Originally, I made it with 1/2 cup raw cashews.

2nd Version: Now, I sometimes sub out white beans–like navy beans or cannellini–to lower the fat content even more. For those avoiding nuts completely, this is a terrific nut-free cheese sauce.

3rd Version: Nowadays, I mostly make with a combination of the two–1/4 cup cashews + 1/4 cup white beans. It has a warm creamy texture with less fat. This easy vegan cheese sauce has so many options!

cashews soaking in water and bowl of beans with labels

Ingredients for vegan cheese sauce

Incredibly some of the ingredients used to make this amazing cheese sauce are…

Vegan cashew cheese sauce on a baked potato with broccoli
Vegan No-Cheese Sauce on baked potato and broccoli.

How to make this vegan cheese sauce

I have a Vitamix blender and so don’t take the time to soak my cashews. That thing is powerful and everything that goes into it comes out creamy. However, if your blender isn’t jet engine speed, soaking the cashews in warm water for at least 30-minutes before adding to this recipe will help this recipe come out more creamy. 

Dice up potatoes, carrots, and onion.

diced onions on cutting board

In a medium pot, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. Place potatoes, carrots, and onion in a pot and allow to cook until veggies are tender approximately 15 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on how small the veggies are diced.

diced potatoes in pot of water on white background

When veggies are tender, drain and place them in a blender. NOTE: reserve 1 cup of the broth, and add to blender. Add all the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.

vegan cheese sauce in blender

Now, it’s ready to use in nacho cheese dip, mac-n-cheese, topping for steamed broccoli, or anything else you need a creamy, cheesy sauce in. This recipe makes approximately 1 quart and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

I often freeze this recipe when I have lots leftover, which admittedly isn’t that often. Most of the time, I freeze it in a mason jar which makes defrosting it later in the microwave much easier. Simply remove the lid and place in microwave to defrost.

Once it is no longer frozen, I place it in my blender and take it for a spin for just a minute which brings it back to its original creaminess. It’s as good as fresh made then.

InstantPot instructions

Yes! You can also use your InstantPot to make this cheese sauce!

Simply add the potatoes, carrots, onion, and one cup of water to your Instant Pot. Set on MANUAL for 12 minutes.  Once finished, allow to naturally release for 10 minutes then add all other ingredients to a blender and process until smooth.  Easy-Peasy!

Tips to remember when making this vegan cheese sauce

  • Soaking cashews or not. I have a Vitamix blender and so don’t take the time to soak my cashews. That thing is powerful and everything that goes into it comes out creamy. However, if your blender isn’t jet engine speed, soaking the cashews in warm water for at least 30-minutes will help this recipe come out more creamy.
  • Potatoes to use. You really can use almost any variety of potato. I love to use russets, red potatoes, or even sweet potatoes. Just make sure they are cooked until soft.
  • Save that broth. One of the steps of this recipe is to boil the potatoes, onions, and carrots on the stove. Remember to save some of that broth for adding to the blender.
  • Tweaking to your taste preference. Most likely this cheese sauce will come out amazing as soon as you dip that spoon into the blender (after it has stopped, of course) to give it a taste. However, if it needs a little tweaking, first try adding a little more salt or nutritional yeast, as those two ingredients can make a big difference, in my opinion. 

*Original publish date February 02, 2015.

3 tacos stuffed with vegetables and standing in black cast iron pan
Vegan Tacos

Your questions answered

Q: How long will this vegan cheese sauce last in the refrigerator?

A: This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days in an airtight container. I love to use quart mason jars.

Q: Can this vegan cheese sauce be frozen?

A: YES! Freezing is also an option. Simply defrost and place in a blender for a freshen up spin and it will be back to its original creamy texture.

Q: Which vegan cheese is best?

A: All of mine! LOL! Seriously though, I have a lot of different dairy-free cheeses to choose from. That a peek at these yummilicious ones.

Q: What recipes use vegan cheese sauce?

A: I am so glad that you asked! I have a number of great recipes that use this cheese sauce. The options are really endless!

overhead photo of veggie pizza on cutting board
Easy Vegan Pizza in minutes!

Ways to use this vegan cheese sauce

Who doesn’t love pasta? This vegan oil-free cheese sauce is amazing on mac and cheese as well. It’s the perfect comfort food and can even be made gluten-free by using brown rice pasta.

Just add salsa to this cheese sauce, and you’ve got delicious Nacho Cheese Dip to serve with tacos and nachos. It’s amazingly delicious!

Nacho Cheese Sauce
Nacho cheese is great for game day or anytime you want a snack.

Other ways to use this cheese sauce are:

  • Over a baked potato
  • On steamed broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or another veggie
  • Drizzled over pizza, lasagna, or tacos
  • In cheezy grits for breakfast
  • On my Chili Cheese Fries or Nacho Supreme
  • Any other wonderful way you can think of!

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Follower Comments

This is so delicious and easy to make. I’ve been making it now for months so thank you for the recipe. I love it so much that when I’m chopping up the veggies I just chop double the amount and freeze for next time. It makes this easy recipe even easier!–Mary W.

I just made this cheeze sauce. I doubled the recipe and tweaked it a bit. It is fabulous…I added 1/2 cup cashews and 1/2 cup white beans as I doubled the recipe as I said so I needed 1 cup anyway.

Then when I was done blending all the ingredients with the 2 cups of veggie water which was prefect consistency, I added about 2 to 3 tbsp or so of jarred pickled jalapeños and pulsed the blender to break into small pieces. Then sauce was still very warm from blending so long in the Vita Mix..

And then when I poured it all into a jar to cool, I added several tbsp of salsa to the sauce for even more flavor and it is pure heaven…it will be so delicious over baked potatoes or chili, or on pizza or Mac and cheese or with baked chips, broccoli or other veggies or just about anything one would use warm cheeze s sauce with.

Thanks for the base recipe. But if you like a little spice the pickled jalapeños pulsed and the salsa added really puts it over the top. have to quit spooning it out of the jar and eating it.–Diane

No-cheese sauce nutritional Information

1/4 cup serving (WITH BEANS):

  • 5 calories
  • 28 carbs
  • 0.14 grams fat
  • 1.9 grams of protein

1/4 cup serving (WITH CASHEWS):

  • 41 calories
  • 4.6 carbs
  • 1.8 grams of fat
  • 2 grams of protein
vegan cheese sauce being poured from white gravy boat

Best Vegan Cheese Sauce

Yield: 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

I use this cheese sauce for everything--nachos, tacos, pizza, baked potato and steamed veggie topping, and so much more!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup broth from veggies
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, (or 1/2 c white beans)
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, optional

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. Place potatoes, carrots, and onion in the pot and allow to cook until veggies are tender--approximately 15 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on how small the veggies are diced.
  2. When veggies are tender, drain and place them in a blender. NOTE: reserve 1 cup of the broth, and add to blender. Add all the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.
  3. I have a Vitamix blender and so don't take the time to soak my cashews. That thing is powerful and everything that goes into it comes out creamy. However, if your blender isn't jet engine speed, soaking the cashews in warm water for at least 30-minutes before adding to this recipe will help this recipe come out more creamy. 

  4. Now, it's ready to use in nacho cheese dip, mac-n-cheese, topping for steamed broccoli, or anything else you need a creamy, cheesy sauce in. It makes approximately 1 quart and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 57Total Fat: 2.3gFiber: 2gProtein: 3g

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate and leave a comment because I love hearing from you. Remember SHARING IS CARING!

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vegan cheese sauce being poured into a white bowl
Vegan Cheese Sauce on potato
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Lisa

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Thank you for this great recipe! Had it over rice and broccoli tonight. Perfect vegan Divan.

Terri Edwards

Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Hi Lisa- Yum! Serving it over rice and broccoli sounds delicious. So glad you enjoyed it and hope you'll find lots of new uses for it.

Darlene

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Tried this cheese sauce for the first time tonight. My friend and I both have to be dairy-free. What I miss the most is cheese. It has been very hard to find a cheese sauce that I liked and would be willing to serve to guests in my home. I came across your recipe and decided to give it a try. My friend and I both loved it when we tried it. We had real cheese sauce as a back-up for the guys and kids in case they didn’t like it. However, both hubby’s loved it and couldn’t tell the difference! They were shocked when we told them what they were actually eating. We left that until after dinner. 😊 Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I can’t wait to try some others.

Darlene

Thursday 11th of February 2021

@Terri Edwards, Yes it is. Thank you so much!

Terri Edwards

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Hi Darlene- That's so amazing! I love that everyone loved the cheese sauce. That's a serious WIN! :D

Andrea

Sunday 24th of January 2021

This is THE BEST plant based cheese sauce I have ever made and I have made several recipes! I did 1/2 beans 1/2 cashews!!!!

Terri Edwards

Monday 25th of January 2021

Hi Andrea- YES! For the WIN! So glad that you liked it. I love that it's versatile enough to be made with cashews, beans, or a combination of both. Thanks for letting me know it was a success.

Chrissy

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Holy crap! I’m not a vegan but after eating the sauce I could be. I was super skeptical at first but I foresee myself eating a lot more broccoli in the near future. Awesome job!!!

Terri Edwards

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Hi Chrissy- HA! I'm so glad that it made a believer out of you. Hope your future is full of broccoli and lots of vegan cheese. :)

Meredith

Monday 14th of December 2020

This turned out great. I was out of potatoes, but had instant mashed potato buds on hand to use instead.