vegan cheese sauce
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Vegan Cheese Sauce

Vegan Cheese Sauce. Okay guys, this nut free, soy free, gluten free vegan cheese sauce is sooo dang good. Creamy, cheesy, smooth, slightly tangy, completely versatile and ready from start to finish in under 20 minutes!

I was testing out vegan cheese recipes yesterday and made this cheese sauce for my (non-vegan) family… everybody gobbled it up within an hour of me making it! Nobody could get over that it was dairy free!

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The base of this sauce?!? Sunflower seeds and potatoes. After I posted my Alfredo a couple weeks ago, several people asked me for a nut free alternative cheesey sauce. We are celebrating Christmas with my mom this weekend and she has a super bad nut allergy, so I took the opportunity to test out nut free vegan cheese sauces to share with you guys. Even if you don’t have nut allergies, as much as I love cashews (and particularly pine nuts) for bases of vegan cheese sauces they can burn a hole through your wallet if you use them everyday!

Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are darn cheap! And blend into a super, creamy sauce after being soaked.

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This is an All PURPOSE Vegan Cheese Sauce guys. I haven’t found a savoury dish I don’t like this sauce on yet. #VeganCheeseSauceOnEverythinggg

We tested it as a dip…

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on macaroni…

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baked potatoes and….

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VEGAN LASAGNA!! Holy moly guys, this recipe is all kinds of magic when layered and baked in lasagna. The texture of this cheese when baked into lasagna completely changes – the baking process evaporates the water in the sauce, creating chunky and thick layers of vegan ricotta cheese… Yum! Stay tuned for the lasagna recipe later this week guys.

vegan cheese sauce

I can’t wait to try this Vegan Cheese Sauce on veggies for a fun, holiday side. If you try this Vegan Cheese Sauce at home, leave your feedback below, snap a shot, share it on Instagram and tag it #CearasKitchen so I don’t miss it!!

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vegan cheese sauce

Vegan Cheese Sauce


  • Author: Ceara
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x

Description

Nut Free Vegan Cheese Sauce ready in under 20 minutes. Creamy, cheesy, smooth, slightly tangy, cheesy and makes a delicious pasta sauce or dip!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (raw and unsalted)
  • 1/2 heaping cup mashed potato (1 small to medium potato)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil,
  • 3/4 veggie bouillon cube
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 23 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 1/41 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-soak your sunflower seeds for 5 hours in cool water. Or, soak your sunflower seeds for 5 minutes in boiling water while sautéing the onions and garlic. Note: If you do not have a high-speed blender like a vitamix, I would recommend soaking the seeds for 7-10 minutes in boiling water until soft.
  2. Poke hole in your potato and place it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes until soft. Mash with a fork and measure into 1/2 heaping cup.
  3. While the potato is cooking, over medium high heat, sauté garlic and onion in a medium size pan until the onions are translucent (3-4 minutes) Add a couple splashes of water so the onion and garlic do not stick to the pan.
  4. Drain and thoroughly rinse the sunflower seeds. Add the sunflower seeds to the pan with the sesame seed oil. Sauté for one to two minutes to slightly roast the seeds.
  5. Add the mashed potatoes, sunflower seeds, garlic, onion, bouillon, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast (2 tbsp) nutmeg, mustard power and one cup water to a high speed blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes until creamy (you might have to blend a bit longer if you do not have a high speed blender). Taste test and add salt and pepper to and extra nutritional yeast to taste. If you want a thinner sauce, add up to an extra 1/2 cup of water. I add 1 1/4 cup of water for sauces, macaroni and cheese and in lasagna. For a dip, I add an extra tbsp of water. Sauce will thicken as it sits.
  6. Serve vegan cheese sauce as a dip, on pasta, on pizza, baked potatoes, vegetables or eat with a spoon – enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins

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  16. I’ve made this 100 times, and I love it. I often use cashews instead of sunflower seeds. I have a lasagna I just made with it in the oven. Trouble is, I wasn’t paying attention and threw the onion in the blender raw instead of sauteeing it. Hoping it will be edible after being in the oven for an hour.

  17. I made vegan moussaka with this – perfect! I’ve tried so many vegan cheese recipes and they never taste quite right, but this even met with picky husband’s approval. Thanks!

    1. Moussaka is already a vegan dish no cheese is used in the original medittaranean recipe. I’m from Syria we cook it with eggplant and tomatoes and onions all sautéed in oil

  18. Kellie at FoodToGlow sent me over. I am most definitely gonna taste test this on my vegan family, particularly as a dipping sauce for roasted / grilled veggies and in lasagna. Great post. 😀

  19. Made this for Mac n cheese with only the addition of edamame and it was a hit with non-veg family and cheese addicted 3 year old. Can’t wait to make the lasagna. Thank you!!

  20. Made this in a mac n’cheese with the addition of some edamame for nutrition and colour and it was a huge hit with my non-veg family and my 3 year old. Will try the lasagna this weekend. Thank you!!

    1. Hmmm… the nutritional yeast really does add that “cheesy” flavour to this recipe. This sauce will still be tangy and super creamy but not as cheesy without it. You can try making the sauce without it and experimenting with herbs, sea salt, and pepper until you get the flavor you like.

      Also, where do you live? When I lived in Belgium where Nutritional Yeast was harder to find, I would order it online in bulk. 🙂

  21. Hi C!

    all the way from South Africa here. Is there any substitute for sunflower seeds? I couldn’t find any in the store and thought maybe almonds or cashew nuts would do? What do you think?

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      You could try substituting for cashews or a mix of cashew and pine nuts. The results will be a bit different but still delicious and cheesy. 🙂

  22. HI Ceara , what about the substitution of butternut squash for the potatoe for a yellow like cheese color and what can be substitued for apple cider vinegar?

    1. I am not sure if replacing the potato with butternut squash would work since the potato gives this sauce a super creamy texture. You could try adding in a bit at the end to get that desired yellow color. The apple cider vinegar does give this sauce that tangy taste – you could trying using lemon instead but it might not taste as “cheesy”.

  23. Do you have a suggestion for a substitute for the sesame oil? We have an allergy in the family (no vegetable oil either! that has soy, another food allergy my son has…). will any oil substitute work well? Thank you!

    1. The sesame oil does give the sauce a distinctive flavor. You could try leaving it out and adding a little bit of tahini instead (I would start with 1 tbsp, taste test and work up from there).

      1. Hi Ceara, I’m allergic to sesame as well, which means I cannot use sesame oil or sesame paste (tahini). Can you think of anything else that might replace that je ne sais quoi added by sesame oil?

        1. Hmm.. you can try leaving it out and experimenting by adding extra herbs and a pinch more salt? Let me know how it works out!

  24. I made this delicious sauce for the delicious lasagna recipe you’ve got on this site (we use Cappellos paleo lasagna noodles instead of regular grain pasta) and had extra sauce so I made a veggie pot pie with it by sauteeing zucchini onion potatoes peas and carrots and using ithe sauce instead of cream or milk for the filling of the pie. Amazing!!

  25. Hi Ceara,

    Made this tonight but my cheese sauce seemed to have disappeared during cooking so I basically ended up with tomato sauce between pasta sheets. The cheese sauce was soooooo delicious when I prepped it yesterday and I was looking forward to this for dinner. I wonder if the sauce was too thick although it spread easily. Cant think of any other reason or possibly I did cook in a large roasting style dish so maybe spread too thinly?

    1. Oops, re my post yesterday about sauce drying up. Just realised for the lasagne you double the recipe. Note to self – Read the recipe in full before commencing!

  26. I’m not vegan, but I am kosher. I made this for a bunch of vegan girls on my daughter’s team, and the sauce was so good I kept licking it whenever I got some on my finger 🙂 I’m totally going to use this to make a meat lasagna with “cheese”. Thanks!

  27. Dear Clara,
    you bring a revolution to my cooking by this recipe. I love lasagna and I love vegan.
    Greetings from the Czech Republic

  28. Hi Ceara, I just made this cheese in preparation for making your lasagna tomorrow. It’s good, but still tastes strongly of the sunflower seeds, and not so much like cheese. I did double the recipe as you suggested for the lasagna, and I think I was careful to double all the ingredients. Do you have a suggestion of what else I can add to counteract the nuttiness of the taste?. Thanks so much. I love your recipes!

    1. Mine was more brown than white too. It tasted good but didn’t look particularly appetizing.

    1. Your right we are sad. We are sad over the torture, rape and mutilation of sentient beings. And if there is any lack in what you call “taste” it is a conscious choic on our part to forgo your cheesy goodness to know we did not participate in the exploitation, slavery and suffering of another sentient being.

    2. Hi Jennifer,

      I don’t understand how a mixture of seeds, potatoes and spices into a delicious cheesey sauce is “gross”. I have served this recipe to non-vegan friends and families and they’ve loved it. I know that using ingredients you might not usually combine may seem strange or odd at first but I would recommend giving it a try. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how flavorful sauces can be without the need for any dairy.

      And I can attest that this vegan is very happy. 🙂

      All the best to you,

      Ceara

      1. In the future, don’t even comment on a comment like that. Only “frustrated” people post like that and their frustration derives from arrogance. The beauty of ignorance is that it can be educated. only but, if arrogance isn’t present, which prevents such process which, in turn, resolves in frustration. Hence and in short, those people can’t be helped any longer. 🙂
        Sadly I was one of those ignorants, too, and for a long time, until health disaster struck me. Now I am as happy as and still alive and feeling better than ever before.
        Oh, and I am even a sadder vegan – because I am a raw foot vegan 🙂

    3. Have you ever seen footage of what goes on in the factories of the meat/cheese/egg industry? I recommend that you watch Earthlings or Food Inc. That would fall under the category of “gross” for me, way over mixing some plant-based materials for an alternative to all that true sadness.

  29. Made stuffed zucchini with this “cheese” sauce. Out. Of . This. World! Ceara, you’re the bomb!

      1. Mine lasted a week (I made double quantities), and then my toddler was devastated when it was used up… Thanks for a great recipe.

  30. Mmmm. Thanks for your ‘cheesy’ recipe Ceara. I’ve been using a fairly standard cashew-coconut creme recipe but yours is a veritable ‘taste sensation delight’! A most unusual and interesting combination of ingredients. Can’t wait to make the lasagna.

  31. Mmmm. Thanks heaps for your ‘cheesy’ recipe Ceara. I’ve been using a fairly standard cashew-coconut creme recipe in similar ways, but yours is a veritable taste sensation delight! I think the veggie stock cube, apple cider vinegar, mustard and nutritional yeast make this recipe special. I can’t think of how (or why) to improve it in any way and I can’t wait to make the lasagna!

    1. So happy you are enjoying the cheese recipe Avon!! 🙂 Mustard is one of my favorite ingredients in cheeses – I find it gives it that extra “kick”! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how you like the lasagna!

      1. Can regular liquid mustard be used? Like yellow or dijon? I’m making the lasagna tonight! Can’t wait!

  32. Hi Ceara!

    This recipe looks great. Do you kno if it would freeze well if it’s in a lasagna? Also how long does it keep in the fridge?

    Thanks
    Carla

    1. Yes, the cheese sauce does freeze beautifully in the lasagna 🙂 You can keep the cheese sauce in the fridge for up to 4 – 5 days in a sealed container!

    1. It’s dry mustard. It will be in the spice section of your store. Coleman’s makes a dry mustard powder.

  33. Made this tonight and loved it! My husband hates nutritional yeast so maybe next time I’ll try leaving it out. He can’t stand any slight amount of it! 🙁 it was great on a baked potato and on hot bread 🙂

  34. Vegan cheese sauce on everything? I’m in! Honestly I find, vegan cheese sauces much more interesting than the ‘real’ deal because they’re creative and unique. Though I do miss the stretchyness of cheese. But this sounds so good and using sunflower seeds is such a great idea!

  35. This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. I like the idea of not having to buy expensive cashews. In the recipe you have apple vinegar a as well as apple cider vinegar. I don’t think I have seen Apple vinegar. Is this an error?

    1. Thank you so much, Jackie!! Oops, just updated the recipe. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar! Let me know if you whip this Cheese Sauce up! 🙂

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