In the past I shared a cheese sauce recipe that I do truly love. However, like most people, I’ve adjusted it over the years and revamped it into what it is today. Based on my own personal taste and dietary needs. The beauty is you can always adjust something like this to fit whatever needs you have. Making it nut-free by using hemp and sunflower seeds in place of cashews. Making it soy-free by omitting tofu and increasing the nuts and seeds. Vegan cheese sauce is probably one of my favorite things to have on hand and make on a weekly basis. You’re able to use it for so many things, like a delicious potato casserole coming later this week… you can dip veggies in it. Make nachos or loaded baked potatoes. Dairy-free cheese sauce is without a doubt the blessing of my existence.
I’ve played around with this particular combo for over a year now and find it to be the right balance of creamy and nutty without tasting like pure cashews. It doesn’t have that fake cheese taste, everything included is wholesome – but feel free to add a neutral oil if you want an even smoother mouth-feel. I think the cashews give it enough to omit using oil altogether. As well as using a little non-dairy milk, which is why I mentioned above how customizable this recipe can be. Mix and match to find what tastes best to you!
In the recipe below I’ve also included a second variation for making this into a queso-style cheese sauce. So you can go from the perfect base for mac and cheese to saving the leftover sauce for nachos later in the week. Again, totally customizable. Some like it hot while others prefer mild. You can even roast your jalapeños for more flavor, like I did with my roasted salsa recipe. Both are SO GOOD on nachos!
The secret ingredient has to be miso. I recommending chickpea miso, but any white or light miso paste will do. That’s what gives this sauce a depth of flavor that only true cheese has. That level of fermentation is needed if you want to achieve a flavor that’s comparable to dairy cheese. Using chickpea miso is also soy-free, keep that in mind if you’re making this for someone that’s soy intolerant (and omit the tofu).
I cannot wait to hear of the combinations you come up with! I would love to see your recreations and hear your thoughts. You can snap a photo and share it, tagging me @PlantPhilosophy using the hashtag #PlantPhilosophy so I don’t miss it.
Easy Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Yield 4 Cups
- 1 block Silken Tofu, (12 oz)
- 1/2 cup Raw Cashews, soaked overnight
- 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds, raw or roasted
- 1 cup Non-Dairy Milk, unsweetened
- 1 cup Water, filtered
- 1 tbsp White or Chickpea Miso
- 1 tbsp Hot Sauce
- 3/4 cups Nutritional Yeast
- 1/3 cup Lemon Juice
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- Salt, to taste (about 1-2 tsp)
For a Nacho Version:
- 10 oz. can Diced Tomatoes + Green Chilies, drained
- Jalapeño slices, to taste (minced)
- 1 tsp more Paprika
- Prep ahead the night before by soaking cashews if you’re not using a high-speed blender.
- Measure and blend everything until smooth (omitting diced tomatoes + chilies), adjusting water until desired consistency is reached.
- For a nacho version, pour and fold in tomatoes + green chilies, adjust seasonings to taste.
- Heat over low heat or serve as is.
Keep stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 6 days. Freeze for up to 3 months, thaw in the fridge the night before using.
Courses Side, Sauce, Appetizer