I'm not gonna lie to you. I had a serious cheese addiction and never thought I could give up dairy let alone be making a dairy-free cheese sauce from scratch.
I guess you never know what you are capable of until you try, right?
And as someone who literally had a poster of cheese in their bedroom as a kid, I can honestly tell you that this sauce will change your life.
Seriously, if you can no longer consume dairy or choose not to because you are vegan or for any other reason, this sauce tastes incredibly similar to a real cheese sauce...you know, the kind you might lather all over your nachos at the ballpark. 😉
Why you'll love this vegan cheese recipe
- easy vegan cheese sauce recipe with no coconut milk or any plant-based milk at all
- virtually fat-free cheese sauce
- nut-free cheese sauce is a great option for those who have a nut allergy and is an optimal replacement for cashew cheese sauce
- simple ingredients you can find at most grocery stores
- you'll want to use this easy peasy vegan sauce on everything from a baked potato to your favorite steamed veggies
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 Flakes - provides a cheesy flavor
- Lemon Juice
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
See measurements in the recipe card below.
How to make nut-free vegan cheese sauce
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 in the high-speed blender 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 sealed 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 use it 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!
If you are looking to make some vegan mac and cheese, this cheesy sauce can be modified to make a tasty plant-based mac and cheese.
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 great recipe, check out our Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce next.
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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