This vegan cheese sauce comes together in just 5 minutes without any cooking involved! This is the best dairy-free cheese sauce to use on anything and everything including veggies, baked potatoes, nachos, pasta, and more! Oil-free, gluten-free, and made without coconut or soy.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "This sauce is a game changer and couldn't be easier. I've tried many other recipes that were okay but not great. I wouldn't hesitate to give this to a non-vegan. I'm so happy to have one spectacular cheese sauce now, instead of having to rifle through all the other recipes trying to remember if they were passable. Not only is it delicious, but all the ingredients should be found in any vegan kitchen. Thanks Lori!" - Kim
When it comes to vegan cheese alternatives, there are so many choices available at grocery stores, now more than ever.
While most store-bought vegan cheese options are typically made with coconut oil and are often highly processed, it's easy to make your own vegan cheeses at home without any of these ingredients!
This vegan cheese sauce recipe is made using a base of cashews along with other wholesome ingredients you can easily find at the grocery store.
Why You'll Love This Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe
- It's just as tasty as traditional cheese sauce without using any animal products.
- It's easy! No boiling potatoes, carrots or other veggies.
- All you need are 5 minutes, a few basic ingredients, and a high-powered blender to make this cheesy sauce!
This easy recipe uses the following simple ingredients. Note that measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
- raw cashews - The naturally occurring starch in cashews helps thicken this cheese sauce and gives it a velvety smooth consistency.
- nutritional yeast - Gives the sauce its cheesy taste. Even if you think you don't like cheeses made with nutritional yeast, I encourage you to give this a try. Also, I highly recommend this non-fortified nutritional yeast by Sari. The flavor is much better than the ones fortified with B12 and folate. If you'd like to use a fortified version, I recommend Bob's Red Mill nutritional yeast.
- roasted red peppers - One of my secret (or not so secret) tricks to create cheesy, tangy flavor. Be sure to use roasted red peppers in a jar similar to the product in the link. The ingredients should be red peppers, water, salt, and citric acid. Tip: Avoid ones that contain sugar because the sweetness interferes with the cheesy flavor.
- rolled oats - Oats help make the sauce extra creamy since we're not using potato or tapioca starch.
- miso - Miso, or fermented soybean paste, gives the cheese sauce a subtle, cheesy, fermented quality. I really like chickpea miso for vegan cheese recipes, but white miso also works.
- hot sauce - This is totally optional and you'll probably want to omit it for most uses. Include hot sauce only if you want more of a vegan nacho cheese sauce.
- lemon juice and rice vinegar - Both add acidity to the sauce and help to balance the flavors.
- garlic powder and onion powder - These add important savory flavors.
- salt - Provides saltiness and helps balance the other flavors in the sauce.
How to Make This Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce
Add the cashews followed by the remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until completely smooth.
After blending, taste and adjust the salt/acid balance to your liking.
The sauce will get warm during blending. It can be used right away, or refrigerated until ready to use. The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools.
Variations and Tips
It's easy to slightly tweak the ingredients so that this sauce suits your needs. For example:
- Adjust the amount of cashews to make the sauce thicker and more mild, or tangier with a thinner consistency.
- Tweak the amount of salt and miso to get the saltiness just right for your palate.
- Tweak the lemon juice and rice vinegar for the desired level of tanginess.
- Bump up the amount of roasted red pepper and hot sauce (if using) for awesome nacho cheese!
- Add smoked paprika or liquid smoke for a slightly smoky flavor.
How to Serve Oil-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce
This vegan cheese sauce is so versatile, there are so many different ways you can use it. Here are some ideas:
- potatoes - Pour this velvety sauce on top of a baked potato or roasted sweet potatoes. You can also dip fries and potato wedges in it. And don't forget cheesy mashed potatoes!
- pasta - Mix into your favorite pasta for a quick and easy vegan mac and cheese, or turn it into a pasta bake with some veggies and a breadcrumb topping.
- tofu/tempeh - Fold this sauce into your next tofu scramble for an epic vegan brunch, or simply drizzle it onto baked tofu and tempeh.
- vegetables - From steamed broccoli and air fryer cauliflower to sautés and roasted veggies, this cheese sauce never met a vegetable it didn't like!
- tortilla chips - It's really the perfect vegan nacho cheese! Use it as a simple dip or drizzle the cheese on loaded nachos.
Storing and Freezing
Store leftover cashew cheese sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to one month. Thaw and briefly heat the sauce on the stovetop to restore its original creamy consistency.
No, if you don't have a high-speed blender, feel free to use a standard blender. However, you will want to soak the cashews before making the cheese sauce. Either soak them overnight or soak in hot water for 1 to 2 hours. Drain the cashews before adding them to the blender.
You can try replacing the cashews with a different nut or seed, but note that the consistency, flavor, and color may be affected. Cashews not only add richness to this recipe, their natural starch content also makes the sauce creamy (in addition to the oats). If you need a nut-free cheese sauce, this Oil-Free Vegan Queso can be made with soaked, raw sunflower seeds instead of cashews. And this Vegan Mac and Cheese uses a nut-free cheese sauce that was inspired by this recipe.
More Vegan Cheese Recipes
Tap to play the video and see how quick and easy it is to make my vegan cheese sauce!
I hope you enjoy the flavor and versatility of this Vegan Cheese Sauce! As always, if you try the recipe I would love to hear from you.
Leave a comment and a star rating below to let everyone know how it turned out, and if you share a photo on instagram tag me with @myquietkitchen to make sure I see it!
Vegan Cheese Sauce (No-Cook)
- high-speed blender - optional
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup raw cashews - Decrease to ¾ cup for a tangier, slightly less rich sauce; see Notes
- ¼ cup rolled oats - Certified gluten-free, if needed
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 ounces roasted red pepper from a jar (about 1 small pepper) - Make sure it does not contain sugar; sweetness interferes with the cheesy flavor.
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons chickpea or white miso (I'm a fan of Miso Masters brand) - Chickpea miso is soy-free, if needed. If you don't have miso, increase salt to taste.
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, optional
- If using a standard blender, about 1 hour before you plan to make cheese sauce, place cashews in a bowl, cover with boiling water, soak for an hour, then drain and proceed.Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until completely smooth.
- After blending, taste and adjust salt/acid balance, as desired. Even the slightest tweaks in salt, lemon, rice vinegar, cashews, or water can "fix" the flavor if it's too tangy or salty for your preference.
- The sauce will get warm during blending. It can be used right away, or refrigerated until ready to use. The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.