This Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce is an allergy-friendly twist on a classic comfort food recipe that has all the traditional flavors you love with whole food ingredients full of healthy fats, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Use it to create mac & cheese, add it to casseroles, drizzle it over nachos, and more!
Vegan Cheese Sauce Just as Tasty as the Boxed Stuff
Who doesn’t love a good cheese sauce? Whether you’re making more traditional recipes like Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Vegan Jalapeno Mac and Cheese, using it as a dip with gluten-free tortilla chips, or adding it to a casserole like my Tex-Mex Egg and Cheese Cauliflower Casserole, there’s no wrong way to eat it. Plus, it’s kid-friendly and super easy to use making it a meal prep staple!
While I love a good cheese sauce as much as the next person, I don’t always love the ingredients found in store-bought versions, such as milk protein powder and whey. Those ingredients can be hard to digest even if you don’t have a food allergy. So, I decided to create my own vegan cheese sauce recipe instead!
What Is Vegan Cheese Sauce Made Of?
You won’t find any powdered cheese, nuts, or white miso in this dairy-free cheese sauce. Instead, we use simple, dairy-free ingredients to recreate the taste and cheese flavor of the classic recipe you love.
- Unsalted Butter – Substitute plant-based butter or a neutral oil like avocado oil or light olive oil if preferred.
- Cornstarch – This acts as a thickener, binding the ingredients and creating a creamy consistency. Gluten-free all-purpose flour also works. Just note that it makes the sauce a bit thicker!
- Seasonings – Garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper create a savory flavor. We also like to add smoked paprika for just a touch of heat!
- Coconut Milk – Feel free to substitute coconut milk lite.
Note: Make sure to use canned coconut milk, NOT the milk alternative in the refrigerated section.
- Non-Dairy Milk – To create an extra creamy taste! But if you prefer your sauce a little less creamy and on the savory side, try using vegetable broth instead. Low-sodium is best!
- Optional Vegetable Bouillon – This isn’t completely necessary but does help boost the cheese flavor.
- Soy-Free Vegan Cheese or Nutritional yeast to create that extra cheesy taste
How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce
Without the need for soaking nuts or using a high-speed blender to purée veggies, this is the easiest vegan cheese recipe you’ll ever make! With minimal prep time and a total time of less than 20 minutes, the whole process is a breeze.
- Create a roux. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Then, whisk in the cornstarch and seasonings except the paprika. Stir until the mixture becomes slightly darker in color.
- Add the wet ingredients. Whisking continuously, add in the coconut milk, non-dairy milk, and bouillon if using. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture begins to thicken.
Note: If the mixture reaches a soft boil, remove it from the heat, reduce the heat to low, and return the pan to the stove. Continue to heat until the mixture thickens.
- Add the “cheese”. Reduce the heat again, and stir in the cheese or nutritional yeast until it is completely melted and combined. Add the smoked paprika and any additional seasonings.
There are endless ways to use this scrumptious sauce! Try drizzling it over nachos, fries, or baked potatoes. Pour it over gluten-free pasta noodles for a quick vegan mac and cheese. Add it to burritos and quesadillas, or use it as a dip with veggies like carrots and broccoli. The options are endless.
Common Questions About This Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe
Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. See the recipe card below for complete instructions and our notes on reheating!
Yes, if stored in an airtight container, vegan cheese sauce will stay fresh in the freezer for up to six months.
If your cheese sauce has been in the freezer, first defrost it in the fridge. Then, add it to a saucepan on medium heat, and whisk in one to three tablespoons of milk or broth until the desired consistency has been reached.
Once the sauce cools (when storing in the fridge), the texture will become a bit more viscous. Similar to that of hummus. To thin it out again, simply reheat it in a saucepan and whisk in non-dairy milk or broth if needed.
If your sauce isn’t as vibrant as the pictures, it is likely due to the nutritional yeast used. Each version varies in weight and B vitamins are included which can alter the color. The taste should remain the same, but if you want to create that beautiful yellow hue, try adding turmeric and paprika to the mix.
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