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Holy Grail Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce

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Holy Grail Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce gets made a lot. Usually, I make one batch and freeze half of it.

When I first went vegan, I experimented with many mac and cheese “cheese” sauce recipes. Results were mixed, but nothing had really blown my mind. I was on a quest. I continued to experiment. Eventually, I combined the spices of my favorite vegan cheese ball recipe with the base of my favorite vegan Alfredo sauce recipe.

After much tweaking, there was a lot of, “Oh mah godddd, that’s good!” as we repeatedly ate spoonfuls directly out of the blender. It was a red-letter day in my two-person household. We haven’t been the same since. It was positively life-changing. At long last, Holy Grail Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce.

We use Holy Grail Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce to make:

  • burritos
  • mac & cheese
  • nachos
  • queso dip by adding pico or salsa
  • in a power bowl with kale, veggies, and quinoa

This recipe uses sautéd onions and cashews as a base.

I use a food scale to weigh the onions after chopping and slicing because onions vary in size.

Let’s make Holy Grail Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce

First, chop and slice up your onions, they don’t have to look pretty just try to keep them around or under ¼ inch thick. Also, if you haven’t soaked your cashews, put them in a pot with enough water to cover them, bring them to a boil and then turn the heat off and let them sit in the hot water while you sauté your onions and load the blender.

Next, put the tablespoon of Earth Balance in big sauté pan and get it to sizzle. Then at medium to medium-high heat, sauté the onions.

While you sauté your onions you can then start adding ingredients to the blender, but keep an eye on the onions and keep them moving, you want to get them to brown a little. In the blender put 1 & 1/2 cup of the broth, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, mellow white miso, tomato paste, onion powder, mustard powder, cumin, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper.

Once onions are browning, add garlic to the pan. Sauté the garlic. Once the garlic looks amber in color, pour 1 cup of broth into the pan and turn the heat up a little. Let the onions get soft and soak up most of the broth.

This is what the onions and garlic look like, you want them to brown to add some depth of flavor.

Onions and garlic after browning and cooking in broth to soften.

Drain the cashews with a strainer and add the cashews to the blender. Let the onion-garlic mixture cool slightly and transfer it to the blender.

Blend until creamy. Add broth if you think the sauce is too thick. If you will be adding salsa to make this a queso, leave it thick and adjust after adding salsa. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired (see notes below). Serve, store or freeze (see notes below). Enjoy!

ingredients of vegan cheese sause ready to blend
Before the blending into creamy goodness
blending vegan cheese sauce
Blending…
closeup of vegan cheese sause in the blend tech blender
So creamy…

It freezes well

To Freeze: Before closing the container, I put a layer of plastic wrap over the top to keep it airtight. At first, when thawing, it may appear gritty. Also, it may look as though it has separated after it has been frozen and defrosted. Just heat and stir and it will go back to being creamy and luxurious.

two bowls of vegan cheese sauce
Cheesy vegan sauce in the blender

If it thickens in the fridge, just add broth

When storing this amazing creamy goodness in the fridge, it may thicken. To thin it back out, just stir in some low sodium no-chicken broth. You’ll have some broth left over if you make the sauce from a new container.

to show the final product of the vegan cheese sauce recipe
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5 from 1 vote

Holy Grail Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce

Cheesy, gooey, rich, vegan cheese sauce. Great for burritos, mac and cheese, queso (just add salsa) or as is for nachos. See notes for freezing, storing, and flavor adjustments.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack, Vegan Staple
Cuisine American, Mexican, Vegan
Keyword Cheese substitute, creamy, non-dairy, nooch, nut cheese, nutritional yeast, rich
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 1/2 cup servings
Calories 162kcal

Equipment

  • high speed blender
  • large non-stick pan
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • food scale (recommended)

Ingredients

  • 450 grams yellow onion about 2 medium onions, sliced fairly thin or chopped, it doesn't have to be pretty it's going into the blender
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or oil of choice, or omit and cook onions in a little broth in a non-stick pan
  • 2 – 3 cups low sodium no-chicken broth I use imagine, you may need more to thin the sauce, depending on your preference
  • ¼ cup lemon juice juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 – 5 tbsp minced garlic (about 8 – 10 cloves of garlic) I sometimes use minced garlic from a jar
  • 1 cup "raw" cashews un-roasted, unsalted, soaked overnight or boiled while you make the onions, then drained. Be sure to measure your cashews before soaking or boiling. If using whole cashews make it a heaping cup, if using cashew pieces right about a cup is good.
  • 1 teaspoon salt fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast I recommend unfortified
  • 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mellow white miso
  • tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry ground mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper* *less to none if serving spice sensitive people or kids, more if you like it hot

Instructions

  • Chop and slice up your onions, they don't have to look pretty just try to keep them around or under ¼ inch thick. Also, if you haven't soaked your cashews, put them in a pot with enough water to cover them, bring them to a boil and then turn the heat off and let them sit in the hot water while you sauté your onions and load the blender.
  • Put the tablespoon of Earth Balance in big sauté pan and get it to sizzle. Then at medium to medium high heat, sauté the onions.
  • While you sauté your onions you can then start adding ingredients to the blender, but keep an eye on the onions and keep them moving, you want to get them to brown a little. In the blender put 1 & 1/2 cup of the broth, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, mellow white miso, tomato paste, onion powder, mustard powder, cumin, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper.
  • Once onions are browning, add garlic to the pan. Sauté the garlic. Once the garlic looks amber in color, pour 1 cup of broth into the pan and turn the heat up a little. Let the onions get soft and soak up most of the broth.
  • Drain the cashews with a strainer and add the cashews to the blender. Let the onion garlic mixture cool slightly and transfer it to the blender.
  • Blend until creamy. Add broth if you think the sauce is too thick. If you will be adding salsa to make this a queso, leave it thick and adjust after adding salsa. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired (see notes below). Serve, store or freeze (see notes below). Enjoy!

Notes

Freeze: Before closing the container, I cover the top with plastic wrap touching the sauce to make it airtight. To defrost, just heat and stir or whisk and it will become creamy again
Store: I keep it in the fridge and use it for a week. If it has separated, just stir, if it is too thick add some of the left over broth. 
For mac and cheese you may want to omit the cumin and the cayenne especially if you are making this for kids.
To adjust flavor :
Want more acid? Add a little more lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or tomato paste.
Want less acid? Add a little more nutritional yeast and/or onion powder.
Other adjustment:  Add a little more salt and pepper.
Like it hot? Add more cayenne pepper
Option to eliminate Earth Balance/oil: just cook the onions in a little broth in the non-stick pan. 
www.planttestkitchen.com

Nutrition

Serving: 1half cup | Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 645mg | Potassium: 349mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 232IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg

For your shopping convenience, this post contains affiliate links. All products linked have been purchased by me and are recommended because they are helpful.

Did you make this recipe? What’d you eat it with or on? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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2 Comments

  1. This sounds like the most promising recipe for “cheese” sauce I have run a crossed. And I have tried them all. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks fore sharing your recipe. What do you think about adding some tapioca flour to give it that stretchy consistency? How much would you suggest?

    • Hi Cheryl! Thank you much for your kind comment. I haven’t tried doing this cheese sauce with tapioca starch, but I think it’s a great idea. I have used tapioca starch when playing around with vegan mozzarella recipes and it made stretchy cheese. I am not sure how much I would try, maybe just use a similar quantity from another recipe and start with a small amount because a little can go a long way. Please let me know how it goes, if you try it out.

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