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This rich and creamy, sharp cheddar-style Vegan Cheese Sauce is gluten-free, nut-free, oil-free and soy-free. Pour this dairy-free cheese sauce on all your favorite veggies, tacos, nachos or even French fries. You can also use this vegan cheese sauce recipe as a dip for your favorite chips or mix it with pasta for a hearty mac and cheese.
First, I’d like to share a little ditty I call The Day I Gave Up Cheese.
♪ Not so long long ago
I can still remember how
That che-ese used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my cheese
It would make me feel at ease
And then I would be happy for a while
But Veganuary made me consider
Giving up dairy cheese forever
I knew that as I wept
I’d just take it step by step
I tried and tried and tried and tried
To let it go with all my might
Something brought me to my knees
The day I gave up cheese
Bye, bye cheddar cheese-laden fries
Now my cheese is made from carrots and potatoes, oh my!
And those good ole cows are letting out a big sigh
Singin’, “this is a cheese you gotta try…
This is a cheese you gotta try.” ♫
Prize winning song parody? Maybe. A winning vegan cheese sauce recipe? Heck yeah!
But before we get into the delicious details, let’s check out the backstory, shall we?
As mentioned in my masterpiece above, I took part in the Veganuary challenge this year.
Going in, I knew it was was going to be tough for this self-proclaimed “cheeseivore” to give up her FAVORITE food…cheese!
Side note: When I say cheese was my “favorite food,” that is an understatement. I was OBSESSED with cheese.
In fact, my parents would joke around saying that my first word was “cheese.”
I used to put gourmet cheese balls and crackers on my Christmas list.
As a teenager, I had a cheese poster on my wall.
I even said that I could give up coffee and chocolate but NEVER. EVER. CHEESE.
I have to admit there were a few slip ups here and there, but I made it through most of January without cheese.
When the month was over, I surprisingly found myself compelled to continue eating this way.
Today, I’m proud to say that I have officially cut all dairy products (including my formerly beloved cheese) from my diet.
I can honestly say that I feel much healthier and have also noticed a drastic improvement in my asthma symptoms.
So, while I won’t be enjoying “cheddar cheese-laden” fries anytime soon, I will be enjoying vegan cheese-laden fries instead.
So, how did this one-time poster child for cheese give it up? I found just as satisfying alternatives, that’s how.
I’m not going to lie to you…it took A LOT of experimenting with making homemade cheeses and taste-testing store-bought ones.
There are some amazing vegan cheeses available today. Vegan cheese making has definitely come a long way.
Speaking of cheese making, let’s get to it…
How to Make This Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe
I opted to use pumpkin seeds instead of cashews since they worked so well in my Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
Personally, I think they make the sauce a little more tangy, along the lines of a sharp cheddar.
And they allow the sauce to stay nut-free, so those with nut allergies can enjoy it too.
To soften the pumpkin seeds, cover them with boiling water and set them aside for 20 minutes.
I like to use an electric kettle to boil water because it does the job much faster than on the stovetop.
In addition to the pumpkin seeds, the base of this sauce is also made with carrots and potatoes.
So, while the pumpkin seeds are soaking, peel and cut the potatoes and carrots into very small chunks. Add the potatoes and carrots to a 2-quart pot.
Cover with water, and bring to a boil and cook until tender (approximately 10 minutes).
Add nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, lemon juice and water to a high-powered blender.
When making mac and cheese, omit the lemon juice and replace it with mustard powder.
Drain pumpkin seeds along with the potatoes and carrots in a mesh strainer and add to the blender.
Secure the lid and blend on high.
Stop to scrape down the sides as needed, and keep blending until the ingredients are well-incorporated and the sauce is smooth and creamy (approximately 2 minutes).
Please note that this recipe makes a pretty thick sauce.
Therefore, if you like your cheese sauce a little thinner, you can add more water in 1-tablespoon increments up to 4 tablespoons, blending in between, until desired consistency is reached.
Personally, I prefer the additional water when using the sauce to make mac and cheese because it makes a less thick, silkier sauce.
What can this dairy-free cheese sauce be used for?
This creamy cheese sauce is perfect to serve over veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower or as a condiment for French fries, baked potatoes and even tacos.
You can also mix it into your favorite pasta to make macaroni and cheese.
Whether you pour it on or dip into it, the options are endless!
Can I use sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds?
Yes, but the overall flavor of the cheese sauce will be a little more mild.
Can I make this vegan cheese sauce using sweet potatoes?
Yes, but doing so will result in a sweeter taste.
And, the measurements will be a little different. Instead of 1 3/4 cups chopped Yukon gold potatoes, use 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet potatoes.
You will also have to add more water. Start with 3/4 cup water and add more as needed in 1-tablespoon increments.
Storing and Reheating the Cheese Sauce
Cheese sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Reheat leftovers in a microwave safe dish in 15-second intervals, stirring in between.
You can also reheat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until heated throughout.
Vegan Cheese Sauce
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 3/4 cup peeled and chopped yukon gold potatoes
- 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
- 1/2-3/4 cup filtered water *See instructions below
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (omit for mac and cheese, and replace with 1/4 tsp mustard powder)
- 2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- Cover pumpkin seeds with boiling water and set aside for 20 minutes
- While the pumpkin seeds are soaking, peel and cut potatoes and carrots into very small chunks.
- Add the potatoes and carrots to a 2-quart pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender (approximately 10 minutes).
- Add 1/2 cup water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice (or mustard powder if making mac and cheese), salt, garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric to a high-powered blender.
- Drain pumpkin seeds along with the potatoes and carrots in a mesh strainer (5 1/2" or 7 7/8" size) and add to the blender.
- Secure the lid and blend on high, scraping down the sides as needed, until the ingredients are well-incorporated and the sauce is smooth and creamy (approximately 2 minutes). Please note this recipe makes a thick sauce. If the sauce is too thick for your liking after you've used 1/2 cup water, you can add more water. I suggest adding water in 1-tablespoon increments (up to 4 additional tablespoons), re-blending in between, until you've reached desired consistency. *If making mac and cheese, I recommend using the additional water so that it is not too thick.
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