This smooth and creamy cashew cheese sauce is absolutely delicious! Perfect for drizzling on vegetables and bowls, baked potatoes, nachos, burritos, and so much more!
Cheese is one of the reasons that many people have trouble transitioning from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. It certainly was the biggest challenge for me. But once I discovered the magic of cashew creams, my whole outlook on a plant based diet changed. The other magic ingredient I discovered was nutritional yeast! Together, raw cashews and nutritional yeast can add so much to vegan food.
Several years ago I discovered a vegan cashew cheese sauce recipe that was so tasty! I started putting it on my Mexican dishes, my baked potatoes, my roasted veggies, and more. I’ve made many changes to that recipe over the years, and the result is this vegan cheese sauce recipe.
I’ve served this cheese sauce to non-vegan dinner guests, and they absolutely loved it! It’s super yummy, and I think you’re going to love it as well.
What’s in this vegan cashew cheese sauce?
- Raw cashews – these are what give this dairy free sauce it’s richness and creamy texture.
- Lemon juice – to add a bit of tangy flavor.
- Hot sauce – just a little for flavor. I use Tapatio hot sauce. Feel free to use your favorite hot sauce, and adjust the amount to your preferred taste.
- Garlic – one clove for some extra yum!
- Nutritional Yeast – this gives the cheesy, umami flavor.
- Turmeric – for color and some wonderful health benefits.
- Chili Powder, Paprika, Onion Powder, and Salt for flavor.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast (affectionately called “nooch”) is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as baker’s or brewer’s yeast. Since it is deactivated, it will not behave like the active yeast that you use in baking. This yeast comes in a flake form that looks similar to fish food flakes. It may look a bit funky, but give it a try!
Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein and of vitamin B12 that vegans and vegetarians (and actually most of the population) need. Many brands are also fortified with other vitamins and folate. There are unfortified varieties like Anthony’s.
In addition to its health benefits, nutritional yeast has a savory, nutty flavor, and when combined with other ingredients can add a cheesy flavor to recipes.
Is soaking cashews necessary?
Unless you have a high speed blender, you will need to soak your cashews. There are a couple of methods for soaking cashews. One is to place the cashews in a bowl and cover with a couple cups of water. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and soak the cashews overnight. When you are ready to make the cheese sauce, drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
The other option is to place the cashews and water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
If you have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you can skip the soaking step.
How to make this easy vegan cheese sauce
Making this sauce couldn’t be easier!
Place the cashews and all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
You can add more water for a thinner sauce. Once you have reached the desired consistency, transfer to an airtight container for storage.
- Mix in a couple tablespoons of your favorite salsa for nacho cheese
- Blend in some smoked paprika for a smoky cheese sauce
- Add more hot sauce for a spicier cheese sauce
What do you eat with vegan cashew cheese sauce?
- Top a baked potato with vegan chili and some of this sauce.
- Drizzle over some steamed broccoli.
- Use as a dipping sauce for some baked tortilla chips.
- Add to tacos, burritos, and tostadas.
- Spread it on your sandwiches and burgers.
- Make an epic plate of vegan nachos.
- Dollop some on top of your enchiladas.
- Enjoy it on my Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes along with my Dairy Free Sour Cream.
- Use it in my amazing Vegan Twice Baked Potatoes with Ham and Broccoli.
- Anywhere you want to add some cheesy flavor!
Frequently asked questions
This sauce will last in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
Yes. It can be frozen in a closed container or jar for up to 3 months. Or freeze it in individual portions in an ice cube tray, and then transfer the frozen cheese cubes to a Ziploc freezer bag. Allow the frozen sauce to thaw in the refrigerator. You may need to stir or blend the thawed cheese sauce to get the right consistency.
For more cheesy recipes, see:
- Vegan Baked Mac & Cheese
- Oil Free Vegan Mozzarella
- Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
- Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Tofu Ricotta
- Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Loaded Vegan Queso
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Cashew Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ to ¾ cup water
- 1 clove garlic
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- rounded ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- If you don't have a high speed blender like a Vitamix, soak the cashew overnight. Rinse and drain before using.
- Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend on high until smooth. Add additional water to reach your desired consistency.
- This sauce thickens slightly when refrigerated. Enjoy on your favorite Mexican dishes, burgers, sandwiches, bowls, and more!