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:
4.98 from 46 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.

76 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  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 🙂

    • Emmy
      07.09.2020

      Lauren, I’ve also added sunflower seeds in the past to cheeses, if you can have those! Might be worth a shot 🙂

    • hailey
      01.27.2021

      5 stars
      White beans instead of cashews. (:

  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. Jeanine Donofrio
    02.01.2020

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. This looks delicious! Can you use russets potatoes instead of the yellow Yukon since I can’t find any right now.l?

  13. Sarah
    03.18.2020

    Would it be a mistake if I use russet potatoes instead of Yukon gold?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.18.2020

      Hi Sarah, I think it’ll be fine!

  14. Hayley
    03.18.2020

    Do you think it would be horrible if I omitted the cashews seeing as only 1/4 cup is used? My SO is allergic.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.19.2020

      Hi Haley, it’ll work with raw, shelled, sunflower seeds… or without. If the sauce seems too starchy, add an extra tablespoon of olive oil to replace the richness that the cashews add. I hope this helps!

  15. Kate
    03.20.2020

    Hi Jeanine, So excited to try this! I’m in New Zealand where we don’t have Yukon gold potatoes so just wondering if I should be using a waxy or floury potato? Thanks so much, Kate

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.21.2020

      Hi Kate, a waxy potato is best!

  16. Julie
    04.02.2020

    Can you freeze batches of this sauce?

  17. Jeanine Donofrio
    04.14.2020

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  18. Jaden
    05.19.2020

    Hello I was wondering what I could use instead of sweet potatoes, can I just use more Yukon potatoes?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.19.2020

      Carrot can be used instead – or you could skip but it’s going to be a beigy-white color that might not make you think “cheese”. Hope that helps!

  19. Dee
    05.24.2020

    5 stars
    This was so delicious! I’m not a vegan per se but I enjoy vegan and vegetarian food. I am always trying to find delicious meat and dairy-free recipes. This was so easy to make and I love how quickly it came together. It was creamy and satisfied my mac and cheese craving.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2020

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

  20. Julia
    05.26.2020

    5 stars
    This was so good! And this is coming from somebody who loves cheese and is trying to eat less dairy.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2020

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

  21. Severine
    06.16.2020

    Hi
    If WE don’t have nutrinonal yeast , Can WE Skip it or replace it ?
    Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2020

      you can skip it!

  22. Liesl Forbes
    08.29.2020

    5 stars
    Is the cheese sauce freezable? I really love it and made a double batch based on your description, but I am the only one in the house eating it and don’t want to throw any away. Also, how long does it keep in the fridge?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.29.2020

      It’s not, I wish it was! The texture becomes gritty once frozen and thawed.

  23. Jamie Br
    09.06.2020

    How long does this keep for in the fridge ?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.12.2020

      about 5 days

  24. Sachi
    09.10.2020

    Hi how long can you refrigerate this cheese?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.10.2020

      Hi Sachi, about 5 days in a sealed container or jar. I hope you enjoy!

  25. Alex
    11.11.2020

    I was wondering if there was a way to take this recipe and make it into shredded cheese. Can you cool it and shred it?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.13.2020

      Hi Alex, I don’t think that’ll work – this recipe is a cheese sauce, it won’t become thick enough to grate.

  26. Beth Hanna
    12.24.2020

    Very interesting texture and flavor. I like the garlic in this recipe. Seems a little weird using as “cheese” dip.

  27. Ellen Williams
    01.13.2021

    5 stars
    This recipe had to be adapted because I am allergic to cashews, but our version was delicious with venison link sausage!
    can you share what the nutritional information for the sauce the way you made it? I try to track my macros. We are delighted to find a non dairy recipe for “cheese”.

  28. Alex Woodward
    01.25.2021

    Do you have a nutritional facts list for this recipe?

  29. Laurie
    01.26.2021

    5 stars
    Made and love it !! I am sensitive to dairy, and the store bought vegan cheese is not an option for me. Tried different blogs without liking any. Found out my new grandson is allergic to dairy, so grandma needs to save the day !!

  30. Thaya
    02.05.2021

    Hi! I am planning on making this recipe tomorrow and i am super excited :)!! One quick question though, can you freeze the sauce? If not, how long does it last in the fridge?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.05.2021

      Hi Thaya, it’ll last up to about 5 days in the fridge (give it a stir if it separates), but it doesn’t freeze well. The texture isn’t quite as creamy once thawed. I hope you enjoy!

  31. Joe
    02.10.2021

    5 stars
    Hi, ive just made the recipe using google to try to work out how many grams/ml of each ingredient and it seemed to be a bit wrong proportion wise (im in uk so dont have us cups to measure with).

    Comparing the amounts of the ingredients to oyur pictures it looks off and although it had the correct looking texture after i added extra water to it, the only real flavour it had was extra virgin olive oil, so i wondered if next time you made the recipe, if you could roughly measure the ingredients in ml/grams or lbs or something so i could make it exactly without guessing it would be much appreciated! 🙂

  32. DFayBej
    02.15.2021

    Oil free version? Can I just omit it?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.15.2021

      you can add additional water in it’s place.

  33. Kathy
    02.17.2021

    Hi there, I see it says recipe serves 4. Can you tell me does it yield a half cup, cup? It looks delish!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.17.2021

      Hi Kathy, around 1 1/2 cups.

  34. Vikki
    02.19.2021

    4 stars
    I am a renewed vegan and never before tried to make cheese, I had just given it up completely! I am happy to say that I made this last night and am pretty please. It’s not cheese, and I don’t think anything can ever be cheese, LOL, but it definitely was good to cover over my chickpea noodles to give me my vegan GF rendition of mac&cheese. It does resemble hummus to me quite a bit. But good outcome for my first time. Thanks for ths recipe!

  35. Isabel
    02.19.2021

    This recipe looks good, yet do you have any nutritional information? That would be most helpful. Thanks so much

  36. Leah
    02.28.2021

    5 stars
    Wow!! This sauce is amazing!! I’m generally skeptical of “cheeze” and cheese substitutes, but this sauce is delicious! I made it with the smoked paprika and a bit of the sauce from chipotle peppers in adobo as suggested and the flavor and texture are incredible! Thank you for this recipe!

  37. Miss Adelle
    03.01.2021

    I have not tried this yet so didn’t rate, but I have a question. Do you need to use nutritional yeast powder or flakes? I am wondering also the same thing about your vegan Parmesan substitute. I am not vegan, but I keep most nuts on hand for making flours, meals, as well as breams and butters. So I have raw cashews as a regular staple. I would make this more for when I make a quick pasta dish and see I have run out of Parmesan and also just to try it. I am pretty much certain I will never give up real cheese, but I love to try everything. It is all good.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.02.2021

      Hi, I use nutritional yeast flakes.

  38. Elena
    03.02.2021

    5 stars
    I made it for today’s lunch because I wanted a healtier man’n’cheese and OMG! So easy to make and extremely delicious! It’s already in my favourites 😍
    Thanks for sharing this recipe! xx

  39. Samantha
    03.10.2021

    Do you soak the cashews before hand?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.10.2021

      Hi Samantha, using a Vitamix, I don’t, but you can if you have a less powerful blender.

  40. Nora Cuch
    03.21.2021

    Hello
    I wonder if I can skip the oil in the vegan cheese (following plant base food)
    In the vegan cheese recipe?
    Thank you, Nora

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.21.2021

      Hi Nora, you can – just add additional water in it’s place so it blends.

  41. Megan Hosch
    03.30.2021

    Can this be stored? Frozen? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.30.2021

      Hi Megan, it keeps in the fridge for about 4 days. It’ll thicken, if that bothers you just stir in a little water to loosen it up. It doesn’t freeze well, the texture becomes more gritty.

      • Megan Hosch
        03.30.2021

        Thanks so much. I’m new to the vegan world and would love if you mention whether your great recipes can be stored or frozen in large batches.

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          03.30.2021

          Thank you for the feedback – we’ll try to include that info more often! Always feel free to ask if we haven’t listed it.

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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.