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.

By Del Sroufe,


  • 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


  • 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.

    —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 (30)

(5 from 16 votes)

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Karin Slawinski

Can this sauce be frozen? I made it ahead of time for the FOK Vegan Moussaka I will make later. That dish won't get made now for a week. If possible I need to preserve the no-cheese sauce until then! Thank you

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Karin, Chef Del Sroufe says that, yes, it can be frozen. However, after thawing it out, and when you're ready to use it, he recommends re-processing it in a blender to bring back its creamy texture.


What can be used to make this nut free please ? Can't have any nuts, sunflower or pepitas due to allergies unfortunately.


Use white beans such as cannellini instead. Or use a quarter block of tofu in place of the cashews. Or steamed cauliflower.


This turned out great! It was too dry for my blender so I added some unflavored soy milk until the consistency was just right. I like to use a variety of vegan cheeses in many of my vegan dishes so it’s great to add this simple one to my arsenol. 👍🏻

Deborah Pratt

is this the grill cheese spread??

Charlotte Gilruth

We’ve loved this easy comfort recipe for years.

Susan Garvey

Is there anything I can replace the cashews with. As a kidney patient cashews are not advisable to consumer.

Courtney Davison

Hi Susan, We'd recommend instead trying our oat-based Vegan Queso Sauce recipe. It's another reader favorite and doesn't contain cashews: Thanks! Courtney Editor, Forks over Knives


Delicious...I did add some smoked paprika since I was using it in a mex inspired casserole.


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 Belk

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


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


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.


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!


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!


There are a lot of suggestions in the comments. For flavor perhaps first cut the amount of nooch in half to start with and see if the flavor improves. You can also try adding a little miso paste, onion powder and/or garlic powder. Check to make sure your tahini isn’t bitter. I like Kevala Organic Sesame Tahini. To give the not-cheese a little tang try a bit of mustard powder or lactic acid. Good luck!

K Johnson

What could be substituted for bell pepper for those allergic to bell peppers?


Bell peppers don’t have a lot of taste so you have a lot of options. Red jalapeños if you like the heat, (smoked) paprika, even beet or tomato powder.


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.


You can first cook it down on the stove to make it to the consistency you like. Or there are plenty of thickeners you can use like corn starch, flour, even konjac or xanthan powders if you like being a kitchen scientist!

Jennifer Miller

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.


I'm allergic to cashews, can you think of an alternative?


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.


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.


Love this recipe as is - no changes needed :)


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

Elizabeth Hazel Green

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.


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.

About the Author

Headshot of Def Sroufe

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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