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 – I add a splash to give 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:
5 from 9 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.

23 comments

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  1. Lauren
    01.30.2020

    Is there anyway to make this without the cashews. I’m allergic to nuts 🙁 but really am dying for homemade vegan cheese. Store bought vegan cheese is killing my bank account

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.30.2020

      Hi Lauren, you can skip them. We thought they added a nice extra bit of richness, but it still works without them. Reduce the water to 2 tablespoons and add the additional 2 tablespoons only if it’s necessary to blend.

    • Laura
      02.13.2020

      5 stars
      This recipe is T. A. (totally awesome). We had it dolloped all over steamed cauliflower. My teenage son keeps asking when I’m going to buy ‘real cheese’ again (despite me explaining why I had stopped). He totally loved this recipe. YAY!!

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        02.15.2020

        Yay! I’m so glad you all loved it 🙂

  2. Gila goldman
    01.30.2020

    I used cauliflower and sunflower seeds and it probably wasn’t as cheesy as the original, but it still tasted good and came out like the real thing texture wise. I’m not vegan but I keep kosher and so I like recipes that are not meat or dairy. Also this is great for sneaking veggies into something that feel decadent. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.30.2020

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Jen
    02.01.2020

    This is one of the things that I love about your site. You come up with alternatives that are made with real food, not weird, processed ingredients.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.01.2020

      Ha, well melted vegan cheese can get really funky 🙂 We’re so obsessed with this version, I hope you love it!

  4. Ashley Drohan
    02.01.2020

    Can it be warmed up or will that ruin the texture?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.01.2020

      Hi Ashley, it can be warmed! It’s actually warm right out of the blender. If you want to make it in advance, store it in the fridge. Gently heat it when you’re ready to eat, stirring in a little water to loosen it up since it thickens a little in the fridge.

  5. Jeanne
    02.01.2020

    5 stars
    This was delicious in mac and cheese , baked with a topping of sliced tomatoes and a gratin of panko, minced garlic and flat leaf parsley sauteed in evoo. Oh, and I thinned the sauce with about a quarter cup of the pasta water. It’s a versatile sauce, and my only caveat is to be careful with the apple cider vinegar…I used the recommended amount, and though I think it s a good addition, it can overpower all other flavors. Thank you for a nice recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.03.2020

      Ooh sounds delish!

  6. Kathy
    02.03.2020

    5 stars
    This was the perfect queso for watching the Super Bowl! Is it possible to freeze what I didn’t use?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.03.2020

      I’m glad you loved it! I haven’t tried freezing it (I’m not sure the texture will be creamy again once it thaws). It’ll keep well in the fridge all week. When I have extra, I put it over pasta and make mac & cheese (stir in some pasta water if it’s too thick). Hope that helps!

  7. Paula
    02.04.2020

    My granddaughters are allergic to nuts…what can I substitute in place if the cashews.

    They are also allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs and coconut, besides nuts.

    I am having a very hard time coming up with recipes. help!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2020

      Hi Paula, I’d try it with sunflower seeds if you have a powerful blender (they can be a bit more gritty than cashews). Otherwise, you can omit the nuts and use a bit less water in the recipe. I hope that helps!

  8. Dove
    02.08.2020

    5 stars
    Sooooooo yummy & satisfying!
    I made the “plain” version, with the following modifications: omitted the garlic, used 1/2 the ACV, didn’t peel my potatoes/sweet potatoes (my blender pulverized them into tiny flecks which was fine with me), and used some of the cooking water from the potatoes as the water in the recipe 🙂 Definitely will be my “go to” for mac&cheese, cheesy broccoli/cauliflower, etc! Thank you! 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2020

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  9. Janis
    02.10.2020

    The best vegan cheese I’ve had! Do yourself a favour and double the recipe 🤣

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2020

      Hi Janis, I’m so glad you loved it!

  10. Frankie Pitt
    02.12.2020

    I have some of your cashew cream sauce already made..how do I do this with the prepared sauce?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2020

      Hi Frankie, apologies for my slow reply. You can blend it with the remaining ingredients. Skip the additional water and add it only as needed to blend.

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.