Vegan cheese sauce? Say what? It might sound like an oxymoron, but don’t knock it till you try it! In the year 2021, if you haven’t experimented with making vegan cheese sauce, you are most certainly missing out!
Not only is vegan cheese sauce cruelty-free, but its also cholesterol-free! You can also customize what goes into your recipe, making it perfect for your macros, budget, dietary preference & most importantly your tastebuds.
Making your own vegan cheese sauce at home is easy. I either start with nuts, seeds or vegetables. You can combine these “base” ingredients or just pick one, this is your recipe.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds
If you choose to use nuts, they should be soaked at least overnight before using in any sauce recipe. I also like to get raw nuts, not salted. I’ve had the best success with Brazil nuts & cashews. You will definitely need a good blender or food processor if you use nuts to make your cheese sauce.
Potato, Cauliflower, Carrots, Sweet Potato
If you choose to start with veggies, they’ll need to be cooked before using. Honestly, the method is up to you. Boiled, steamed or even cooked in the oven or the skillet. Just keep in mind the moisture content. If the veggie is dry you’ll have to add more water to thin out your sauce. My favorites are carrots & either regular or sweet potato. For better aesthetic, peel them.
Nutritional Yeast, Dijon Mustard, Miso Paste
Okay, so these aren’t really “base” ingredients really, but more of ways to make things taste cheesy. I’ll explain.
First, nutritional yeast. It’s deactivated yeast that’s sold as flakes or powder that strangely resembles the tastes of cheese. Fondly referred to as “nooch” by the vegan and vegetarian community, nutritional yeast is packed with B-complex vitamins and even sometimes fortified with B-12. One serving provides 9g of complete protein and iron! So vegan, vegetarian or neither, “nooch” should definitely be in your spice cabinet.
Next, Dijon mustard. Not sure why, but this tangy mustard adds a unique flavor when you’re trying to achieve a cheesy taste for a sauce or dressing. Try a whole-gain variety for an extra hit of flavor!
Finally, miso paste. Traditionally made from fermented soybeans, but I have seen chickpea varieties for people who don’t want soy. It has a salty and mild to rich flavor depending on the type you get. White is typically more mild, while the red has a more pronounced flavor. For cheese sauce, I like to use the white type so it doesn’t discolor the sauce.
Nacho cheese sauce was one of the first things I was determined to master when I decided to become vegan. Here is a simple recipe I adapted from Hummsapien.
1/2 cup Brazil nuts(soaked overnight to 24hrs)
1 cup medium or hot salsa (8oz, get the good stuff!)
1 red bell pepper (seeds & stem removed, roughly chopped)
4 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
Drain & rinse Brazil nuts. Blend ingredients until very well blended & smooth. Bonus if your blender has a heating setting, but if not, heat in saucepan or microwave until warm.
Best eaten right away, but if you want to make extra, just add some water or broth when heating to loosen it up a bit.