Vegan Cheese Sauce

By Sally Cameron on July 20, 2016

Dairy Free, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Sauces & Dressings, the daniel plan, Vegan, Vegetarian

No-cheese sauce. Vegan cheese sauce. Cheesy sauce. Non-dairy cheese sauce. I’m not sure what to call this except delicious. There is no cheese in it, plus it is easy to make, versatile, vegan and gluten-free. Just make some!.

vegan cheese sauce |

Vegan Cheese Sauce & Nutritional Yeast

With many friends and clients finding that they can’t do dairy, I am developing more non-dairy recipes for those who are dairy sensitive or choose not to consume dairy, whether vegan or not.

This vegan cheese sauce has a cheesy taste but without cheese. But how you ask? For the past few posts I’ve been tellings you about nutritional yeast. It’s almost a magical ingredient. Nutritional yeast is what provides that savory, pleasant, cheesy taste with out any dairy cheese.

Nutritional yeast is an inactive or deactivated yeast similar to yeast used in bread baking and brewing, so if you have yeast concerns, not to worry. For more information on what is nutritional yeast, read this post.

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The Benefits of Soaking Nuts

Start this recipe by soaking your nuts. Cover cashews with clean filtered water with a little sea salt and soak until they are soft. I soak mine for 8 hours. This makes them easier to blend into a creamy sauce. It also makes nuts more digestible and makes nutrients more bioavailable as they contain something called enzyme inhibitors that inhibit digestion. Soaking with salt helps to minimize phytates (phytic acid) and tannins (polyphenols).

After soaking, rinse cashews well, drain and puree with the nutritional yeast, sea salt, granulated garlic, canned coconut milk, a little Dijon mustard and turmeric. It’s that easy.

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What To Do With Vegan Cheese Sauce

Drizzle it over steamed or grilled vegetables or use it to top chicken or anywhere else you might use a cheese sauce. It’s makes a good dip for raw veggies too.

Eat Fat Get Thin

I first created this recipe for Dr. Mark Hyman’s New York Times bestselling book, Eat Fat Get Thin. That is when I began to seriously experiment with and appreciate nutritional yeast and not cooking with dairy. You will find great information about including healthy fat in your diet in this book. It’s a great read about not fearing healthy fat.

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Informative Links

For more information on the benefits of soaking nuts and seeds read this article, and here.

Nutrition Facts
Vegan No-Dairy Cheese Sauce
Amount Per Serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories 82 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Sodium 67mg3%
Potassium 112mg3%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 5mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
vegan cheese sauce |
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Vegan No-Dairy Cheese Sauce

No-cheese sauce. Vegan cheese sauce. Cheesy sauce. Non-dairy cheese sauce. I’m not sure what to call this except delicious. There is no cheese in it, plus it is easy to make, versatile, vegan and gluten-free. Just make some! The salt in soaking helps deactivate the enzyme inhibitors.
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Keyword cashews, nutritional yeast, Sauce, Vegan
Servings 10 Yield 1 1/4 cups
Calories 82kcal


  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt divided use
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove finely chopped or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper


  • Place cashews in a small bowl or or jar and cover with water by several inches. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Allow nuts to soak for 6-8 hours to soften. After soaking, rinse and drain nuts.
  • To make the sauce, place soaked nuts, 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt that is left, and the rest of the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor or a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. If it gets too thick, add a little water to thin to your desired consistency.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 82kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 112mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
  1. Denise - July 21st, 2016

    This is an amazing recipe. Thank you so much. I am gonna love it!

  2. Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC - July 21st, 2016

    I adore these kind of sauces! Anything with soaked cashews and nutritional yeast is a hit in my book. I have a similar thicker sauce on my blog that’s a white pizza sauce. Nom. And I am STILL cooking from Eat Fat, Get Thin. What great recipes.

  3. Sally Cameron - July 22nd, 2016

    Hi Steph. Love to hear that! I am with you, anything with cashews and nutrition yeast, how can you go wrong? Will check out your recipe.

  4. Sarah - January 27th, 2017

    My daughter can’t have tree nuts, is there anything I could sub for the cashews? This recipe sounds great and she can eat everything else the recipe calls for.

  5. Sally Cameron - January 28th, 2017

    Hi Sarah, that is a tough one as hits recipe is really based around nuts. Unfortunately I think you are going to have to do something else for your daughter. Sorry I don’t have a good substitute for you. Quick thought but I am not sure how it would work. You would have to experiment and adapt it. Instead of the cashews, thicken with tahini (sesame seed butter) if she is ok with sesame seeds.

  6. Andrea Tinonga - December 13th, 2017

    I just use a full fat coconut milk! It’ll thicken upon reduction, you don’t need the cashews! Hope this helps…..
    Additionally, you can add a pinch of nutmeg and mustard seed to deepen the”cheesy flavor” the nutmeg creates a deep, earthy flavor while the mustard seed adds the sharp twanginess!

  7. Jennifer - July 7th, 2020

    How important is the salt in this? I’m on a very low sodium diet and have to minimize salt everywhere I can. Is the salt in this only for taste, or is it important to the process?

  8. Sally Cameron - July 7th, 2020

    Hi Jennifer, You can make it without. Might not have as much flavor for some people, but if you are used to low sodium it should be good for you. Give it a try. Note too that 1 teaspoon of the salt is only used for soaking and is not consumed. Rinse the cashews well after soaking. See the nutritional label I added. This has 67 grams of sodium per 2 tablespoons. In looking at sodium on labels, read Dijon labels carefully and choose one lower in sodium. That will help reduce too.

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