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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes about 2½ cups 

This low-fat vegan cheese sauce recipe takes only takes about 5 minutes to put together. It may seem as though this recipe will not work in a blender, but with a little patience it does. If your onions are strong, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes, or sauté them over medium heat for about 5 minutes before adding them to the blender.

Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cashews (toasted, optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (optional)
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender in the order given and puree until smooth and creamy, adding up to ½ cup of water if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.

    Variations:
    —Use an equal amount of roasted red bell peppers in place of the raw pepper.
    —Combine the prepared sauce with a jar of store-bought salsa or a recipe of Fresh Tomato Salsa, and use as a dip for vegetables.
    —Add ½ teaspoon of nutmeg with the salt.

Comments (16)

(4.46 from 13 votes)
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Brenda2 months ago
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This sauce is fabulous, and quick! I am a huge fan. I used the tahini but not the cashews; might try those another time. I thought the raw onion taste was too strong at first, but it mellowed after standing for a bit. I thought the sauce would separate, but it didn’t! My only real change (besides a tad more tahini) was the addition of a teaspoon or more of Colman’s dry mustard. This is an old family trick to make cheese things cheesier. The sharpness of the mustard fools your tastebuds into thinking “sharp cheese!” if you get the amount right. It must be Colman’s. I can’t say enough good things about this sauce! Whoever came up with this is a genius. I never would have thought of combining these ingredients and it having a cheesy flavor.

Todd Belk2 months ago
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I make this with tofu, white miso paste, and a little more cashews. Turns out superb every time!

Megan4 months ago
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Made it as-is except for the addition of garlic powder. Love it!

Louise5 months ago
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After reading some suggestions, I roasted the onions and red peppers. I added some red chili peppers because we like it spicy, and added water until it was a good consistency. Probably added a bit more than 1/2 cup. It turned out great – used for the Mexican-style vegan bean and rice casserole. Yum.

Natasha6 months ago
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I always read comments prior to cooking new recipe – meaning i cooked the onion and red pepper first the cheeze sauce turned out really good, however, kind of bland for my taste so I added some Chipotle sauce from the canned peppers and BOI … it went from really good to amazing with a quickness!

Thank you for sharing this keeper of a recipe!

Amber8 months ago
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First thank you so much for putting the recipe together to make a cheese sauce replacement. I really think it is quite a task to replace cheese. Unfortunately, I did not like the no-cheese sauce. I made some to go with the Mexican-Style Vegan Bean and Rice Casserole. I tried the sauce before adding it to all the veggies and decided not to add it to the casserole. Not sure exactly what it is that I did not like, maybe the onion is too strong, the nutritional yeast or both. Either way, thanks for sharing!

K Johnson9 months ago
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What could be substituted for bell pepper for those allergic to bell peppers?

Susan11 months ago
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The sauce is tasty but it wouldn’t blend. I had to use my food processor. Although I didn’t add any water, it was quite runny. Is that why some of you added potatoes? I like it so I’ll work with it, but it’s not as easy as advertised.

Jennifer Miller1 year ago
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This is the simplest and tastiest ‘no cheese’ recipe ever. In our house, we like to either grill or broil both the peppers and onions before it goes in the blender. This gets rid of any strong onion taste if you can’t stand onions, and adds a layer of caramelized sweetness from the sugars in the pepper as well. Cashews aren’t an option, put those in there, and make sure to toast your raw unsalted cashews for the best flavor. Make sure to use a good quality tahini. Cheap or old tahini paste is bitter, but a nice organic tahini paste gives just the right flavor and texture. Only skip it if the tahini you have has very strong bitterness.
This has completely replaced any and all ‘no cheese’ recipes for us, to the point its a weekly meal in some way, form, or fashion. Try it in the “Forks over Knives” Tomato Alfredo Pasta.

Anna8 months ago
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Chef, this is soooo good, thank you! I used your options and Jennifer’s suggestions … roasted the red pepper and onions first, and used (dry) roasted cashews. I ended up using about 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 TSP salt, then added 2 TBSP of lemon juice for some tanginess. It is absolutely delicious.

Cindy8 months ago
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I’m allergic to cashews, can you think of an alternative?

James1 year ago
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Cook the onions! I made that mistake the first time, and had to cook the sauce to get rid of the onion flavor. It’s easiest to just boil the potatoes and onion together then drain before put them into the blender.
I also added 1/2 tbsp yellow miso.

Holly1 year ago
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Love this recipe as is – no changes needed 🙂

Brenda2 months ago
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I thought the raw onion was too strong when I first made the sauce, but by the next day it was perfect!

Elizabeth Hazel Green1 year ago
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Delicious and easy had it with a salad, of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, gherkins, olives, baby spinach, sweetcorn. Side of oven baked wedges, cooked baby carrots, and homemade whole wheat bread roll, yum.

Glenda1 year ago
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I put onion powder in mine and added a few chili flakes. Also I added some boiled cooked cauliflower. Turned out yummy.
I think I may try adding a potato or potato flakes sometime.

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about the author

Del Sroufe

Chef Del Sroufe is co-owner and executive chef of Wellness Forum Foods, a whole-food, plant-based meal delivery and catering service in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook and Better Than Vegan. Del teaches cooking classes and helps people transition to a healthy plant-based diet.

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