This rich and creamy vegan cheese sauce is nut-free, oil-free, soy-free and gluten-free. Pour this "cheddar-style" sauce on all your favorite veggies, tacos, nachos and more! You can also use it as a dip for French fries and tortilla chips!Jump to Recipe
First, I’d like to share a little ditty I call The Day I Gave Up Cheese (sung to the tune of "American Pie" by Don McLean).
♪ 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?
A winning vegan cheese sauce recipe?
So instead of enjoying “cheddar cheese-laden” fries, how about enjoying some vegan cheese-laden fries instead?
So, let's get to some cheese making, shall we?
Ingredients you'll need
- Raw Pumpkin Seeds - I opted to use pumpkin seeds instead of cashews since they worked so well in my Vegan Parmesan Cheese and allowed this sauce to be nut-free, so those with nut allergies can enjoy it. Personally, I think they make the sauce a little more tangy, along the lines of a sharp cheddar.
- Potatoes - I find Yukon Gold to work best.
- Nutritional Yeast
- Lemon Juice
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
How to make nut-free vegan cheese sauce - step by step
Step 1 - Soften the pumpkin seeds
Cover the pumpkin seeds with boiling water and set them aside for 20-30 minutes.
I like to use an electric kettle to boil water because it does the job much faster than on the stovetop.
Step 2 - Cook the potatoes and carrots
While the pumpkin seeds are soaking, add the chopped potatoes and carrots to a 2-quart pot.
Cover with water, and bring to a boil and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Tip: The carrots and potatoes should be cooked until very soft so that if you stick a fork in a piece, it starts to fall apart.
Step 3 - Blend the ingredients
Add nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, lemon juice and water to a high-powered blender.
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 1-3 tablespoons more water.
If you're not avoiding oil, you can also add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to smooth out the sauce.
Storing and reheating
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.
Ideas for serving
This creamy cheese sauce is perfect to serve over veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower or as a dip for tortilla chips, French fries or these air fryer frozen sweet potato fries.
Whether you pour it on or dip into it, the options are endless!
And if you like mac and cheese, I've also got a plant-based mac and cheese using a modified version of this sauce.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, but the overall flavor of the cheese sauce will be a little more mild.
Yes, but doing so will result in a sweeter taste. And, the measurements will be a little different. Instead of 1 ¾ cups chopped Yukon Gold potatoes, use 1 ½ cups chopped sweet potatoes. You will also have to add more water. Start with ¾ cup water and add more as needed in 1-tablespoon increments.
Yes, but you will be able to taste the cauliflower in it and the final product will be a little more sharp. If using cauliflower, replace the potatoes with the same amount of chopped cauliflower (1 ¾ cups). Boil the cauliflower along with the carrots just as the directions note for the potatoes. Instead of ½ cup water, start with ¾ cup and add 1-2 more tablespoons after blending, if needed, to thin out.
More dairy-free "cheese" sauce recipes
For a nacho version of this recipe, check out our Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce next.
If you're not avoiding or allergic to nuts, you might also enjoy our Cashew Cheese Sauce.
Vegan Cheese Sauce
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 ¾ cup peeled and chopped Yukon Gold or other gold potatoes (cubes or chunks about ¾" to 1" thick)
- 1 cup peeled and diced carrots (medium dice, about ½" thick)
- ½ cup filtered water (plus more if needed)
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½-2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt (depending on taste preference)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- Cover the pumpkin seeds with boiling water and set aside for 20-30 minutes
- While the pumpkin seeds are soaking, add the potatoes and carrots to a 2-quart pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until *very soft (approximately 15-20 minutes once boiling).
- Add ½ cup water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric to a high-powered blender.
- Drain the pumpkin seeds along with the potatoes and carrots in a mesh strainer (5 ½" or 7 ⅞" 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 ½ cup water, you can add 1-3 tablespoons more water and blend again.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
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