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Cashew Cheese Sauce

5 from 3 votes

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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!

Chip being cipped into bowl of cheese sauce with bowl of chips in background

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?

Ingredients for 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.
  • Water

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.

Bowl of cashew cheese sauce next to bowl of chips and striped napkin

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.

Variations:

  • 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
  • Dollop some on top of your enchiladas
  • Anywhere you want to add some cheesy flavor!
Spoon drizzeling cheese sauce over bowl of sauce

Frequently asked questions

How long can I store this cashew cheese sauce?

This sauce will last in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.

Can I freeze vegan cashew cheese sauce?

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:

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And come join my Oil Free Vegan Recipes and Support Facebook group, where you can share your favorite oil free vegan recipes, and give and receive support on your plant based journey.

Bowl of cashew cheese sauce in front of bowl of chips

Cashew Cheese Sauce

Teresa Sklenicka
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!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 114 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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!

Nutrition

Calories: 114kcalCarbohydrates: 7.4gProtein: 5.8gFat: 7.6gSaturated Fat: 1.3gSodium: 200mgFiber: 2.2gSugar: 1.1gVitamin A: 219.32IUVitamin C: 0.77mgCalcium: 19.82mgIron: 3.67mg
Keyword Cheese, Cheese sauce, Oil Free, Quick & Easy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on January 6th, 2022

About Teresa Sklenicka

I love creating tasty, oil-free, vegan recipes that everyone will love (even non-vegans)! Here you'll find vegan versions of your favorite comfort foods, as well as some new tastes! Join me on a path to improving your health, helping the planet, and saving animals.

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