Vegan Cheese

This oozy, gooey vegan cheese sauce is just as good as the real thing! Versatile and easy to make, it's delicious on pasta, nachos, and more.

Vegan cheese

You don’t have to be vegan to fall for this vegan cheese recipe! It’s creamy, tangy, and rich, with a crave-worthy oozy texture just like that of dairy-based cheese sauce. Even Jack – the biggest real cheese lover I know – adores this recipe. Last time I made it, we stood at the counter, scooping it up with tortilla chips. We only got halfway through the first batch before we decided to make a second. Yep, it’s that good!

Serve this vegan cheese as a dip with tortilla chips or fresh veggies, toss it with pasta to make vegan mac and cheese, top it onto a baked potato, or drizzle it over chips to make a vegan nacho platter. Once you have it on hand, you’ll find endless ways to use it, and you won’t be able to get enough!

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cashews, and nutritional yeast

Vegan Cheese Recipe Ingredients

This dairy-free cheese is not only delicious – it’s good for you, too! Unlike processed vegan cheese that you might find at grocery stores, it’s made of a short list of whole foods ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Yukon gold potatoes and cashews – They’re the key ingredients for giving vegan cheese recipes oozy, creamy texture.
  • Sweet potatoes – You couldn’t make a cheddar-style cheese sauce without an orange ingredient! Sweet potato gives this recipe its vibrant color, and it adds a light sweetness that’s delicious with the rich, tangy flavors here.
  • Nutritional yeast – It gives this dairy-free cheese the nutty, savory flavor of the real thing!
  • Garlic and onion powder – They add delicious depth of flavor.
  • Apple cider vinegar – It gives this vegan cheese a bright, tangy finish. Yum!

To make this cashew cheese recipe, start by boiling the potatoes. When they’re tender, transfer them to a high-speed blender. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic, onion powder, cashews, and vinegar, along with water, extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy, adding more liquid as needed. Then, enjoy!

Vegan cheese sauce

Best Vegan Cheese Variations

Though I love this recipe as written, I also like to change it up from time to time. Here are a few of my favorite variations:

  • Change the veggies. If you don’t have sweet potato on hand, swap in carrots or butternut squash.
  • Make it smoky. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste. I love to serve this variation as a loaded queso dip with guac, pico de gallo, and black beans!
  • Spice it up. For extra heat, blend a tablespoon of pickled jalapeños or a chipotle pepper from a can of chipotles in adobo into the cheese.

Let me know what variations you try!

Best vegan cheese recipe

More Plant-Based Basics

If you love this vegan cheese recipe, try one of these plant-based basics next:

Then, check out this post for more of my favorite vegan recipes!

Best vegan cheese

Vegan Cheese

rate this recipe:
4.94 from 101 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Serves 4
The BEST vegan cheese recipe! It has a delicious oozy texture and cheesy flavor. I love to toss it with pasta, drizzle it over nachos, or serve it as a dip. Gluten-free.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup peeled and diced Yukon gold potato
  • ¾ cup peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water

To make your cheese spicy or smoky, try adding:

  • ½ to 1 chipotle pepper from canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeños
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, 8 to 12 minutes.
  • Drain and transfer to a high-speed blender with the garlic, cashews, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, olive oil, and water. Blend until smooth.
  • For spicy vegan cheese, add the chipotle pepper or pickled jalapeños. If you’d like a smoky flavor, add the smoked paprika.
  • Serve with tortilla chips for dipping or over pasta to make vegan mac & cheese.

Notes

Note: if you're using a high powdered blender, like a Vitamix, there's no need to soak the cashews. If you're using a less powerful blender, you can soak them for 2 hours. Drain before adding to the recipe.

185 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Mike A.
    09.20.2022

    5 stars
    Made this the first time this past weekend. Was nice! Can I substitute anything in place of the olive oil? Trying to use less oil in my cooking! Thanks for the recipe, keep up the great work.
    Mike

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.21.2022

      Hi Mike, you can use water in place of it.

  2. Shannan
    06.10.2022

    4 stars
    Used this for Mac n “cheese” for my kiddo with aloha gal syndrome. Of all the safe Mac n cheese recipes we’ve tried, this is the closest to real Mac n cheese. He ate it! And he’s a selective eater.

    After mixing it up, I added more salt and nutritional yeast to taste. I also added some plant based milk for a little more creaminess (we use Ripple unsweetened).

    In the future, I will probably use light tasting olive oil instead of EVOO (I don’t really like the taste of olive oil). And I will use 1/2 the amount of ACV. Probably also top with bread crumbs and bake for a few minutes.

  3. Jen
    04.13.2022

    My niece is allergic to sweet potatoes but I’d still like to make a variety of this could sweet potato be exchanged with either taro or carrots?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.15.2022

      Hi Jen, you could use carrot!

  4. Julie
    04.08.2022

    5 stars
    This is amazing, thank you! I doubled it but then figured I should ask– how well does this freeze? I now have an exorbitant amount of vegan cheese….

    • Korri
      05.29.2022

      Hi Julie. I’m loving your site and recipes. Just another reader asked, I too was wondering if you ever tried to freeze the sauce as a stand alone or if you’ve ever tried to freeze it when it’s used in a dish, such as your Mac-n-Cheese….. Thanks in advance!

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        05.31.2022

        Hi Korri, the creamy texture changes in the freezer, the potatoes cause it to be lumpy when it thaws.

  5. Mary Knopp
    04.07.2022

    Do you know the nutritional breakdown? This looks delicious!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.08.2022

      I’m sorry, we don’t calculate nutrition facts but you can plug the ingredients into a site like my fitness pal.

  6. Christy
    04.05.2022

    What nutritional yeast would you recommend? Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.06.2022

      Hi Christy, any type that’s at your store should be fine (often, there’s just one choice). I’ve used Frontier Coop, Bob’s Red Mill, and Trader Joe’s brand and they’re all pretty much the same. Hope that helps!

  7. Bee
    03.25.2022

    What can I replace cashews with?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.27.2022

      Hi Bee, blanched slivered almonds (almonds without skins) will work.

      • Cleo
        07.08.2022

        Anything else that can be substituted? Tree nut allergy here.

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          07.12.2022

          Hi Cleo, you could skip the nuts entirely here and add a little more olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) for richness.

          • Felicia
            07.14.2022

            Sometimes I replace cashews with white beans in creamy pasta sauce recipes and they turn out great! Haven’t tried it with this recipe, but it could be worth a try.

          • Jeanine Donofrio
            07.16.2022

            a great idea! I love using white beans for creamy sauces too.

  8. Lizy
    03.16.2022

    5 stars
    I used red potatoes instead of yukons and this came out AMAZING! Finally a chees sauce that tastes delicious. Thank you!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  9. Lisa
    03.15.2022

    Is the sweet potato mainly for color? I ask because I have a Yukon gold on hand but no sweet potato and thought I’d try Yukon gold as a sweet potato sub.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.16.2022

      Hi Lisa, I think the texture might be a little too gluey with all yukon gold potato.

      • lisa
        03.16.2022

        Good to know – thank you!

    • Irina
      04.10.2022

      Do you think I can use all sweet potatoes for this (instead of the Yukon gold)? Thanks!

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        04.11.2022

        Hi Irina, you can, the cheese will be just a bit less gooey.

  10. Heidi
    03.11.2022

    5 stars
    This cheese sauce looks so velvety smooth! I was wondering if roasted cashews would work in place of the raw ones as they are a little cheaper on the wallet? Thanks for the great recipe!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.11.2022

      Hi Heidi, I’m glad you loved it! Roasted cashews will make it taste like cashews where raw ones have a neutral flavor.

  11. Jill R
    03.08.2022

    4 stars
    This was very tasty! I poured it over roasted veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato) and baked it with some breadcrumbs on top. Side of rice, nice meal. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.11.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Beth C
    02.23.2022

    5 stars
    Wow just wow! I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn it but it is very tasty. I spread it on toast to enjoy with soup for lunch and saved some for pretzels for a snack tomorrow. If you’re curious just make it!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.25.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  13. Marci
    02.17.2022

    5 stars
    We made this tonight. Delicious! First time ever for vegan mac & cheese. Do you by any chance know the nutritional value for this recipe? Would love to know if any cholesterol, saturated fat & fiber content as my husband went off statins, and we watch what we eat.
    Thanks so much!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.18.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it! I’m sorry, I don’t post nutrition facts, but you can type the ingredients into a site like my fitness pal.

  14. Gloria
    02.14.2022

    My son is allergic to nuts what can I substitute with

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2022

      Hi Gloria, you can leave them out if you use less water. Omit the water and use just 1 tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too thick to blend.

  15. Sean
    02.12.2022

    4 stars
    Made this today for Super Bowl tomorrow. Added fresh Serrano peppers to give it a kick. How does this store in the fridge and do you have reheat recommendations?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.13.2022

      Hi Sean, it keeps 3-5 days in the fridge. It’ll thicken, so stir in a little water to bring it back to a drizzleable consistency. You could try heating it up a little in a small saucepan, but I would stop as soon as it’s warmed through or the texture might change. Hope that helps!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.