Hello, my lovely chickpeas! Today’s recipe has been in the works for a long time, and I am so excited to share it with you. Today we are learning how to make my Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce! This vegan cheese sauce is great as a spread on crackers and sandwiches, and it makes the absolute best vegan grilled cheese.
This recipe is pretty easy to make and comes together in less than 30 minutes. If you want a delicious and cheesy experience but without the dairy, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive in.
Inspiration for Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Before going plant based, I was a big cheese girl. I used to say I could never go vegan because I loved cheese too much. However, I have learned that there are ways to incorporate cheesy experiences into my meals and still be vegan, and this is one of them! This recipe was largely intended to make amazing vegan grilled cheeses, but it can also be a general cheesy spread for crackers or whatever else you’d like!
I already have another cheddar-ish cheesy sauce on my blog, my Quick Vegan Queso. However, today’s recipe is intended for different uses, and therefore has some distinct differences from that one! This one doesn’t have the tex mex vibes of the queso (no salsa or smoky flavors), we are leaning into the savory cheddary vibes a bit more, and I also wanted this one to have a different consistency. To reach a different consistency we are using a different type of starch, and we are also thickening it up a bit by incorporating carrots! I am so happy with how it came out and I hope it becomes a favorite in your kitchen like it has in mine.
I always like to remind my readers with these “substitute” style recipes that this won’t taste exactly like traditional cheese, because it simply isn’t the same thing! However, we still have some serious cheesy and creamy vibes from this Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce. Overall it still gives a similar experience to traditional cheese and can be enjoyed in similar ways. The secret to a good vegan cheese is both the consistency and the flavor, so here are the ingredients that are going to get us there:
- Cashews: these are great for a vegan cheese sauce because they get ultra creamy when soaked and blended.
- Carrots and tapioca starch: These thicken our sauce and give the consistency we are looking for! We want this to be a spreadable sauce so that it is perfect for vegan grilled cheese, as well as crackers and whatever else you’d like.
- Nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, & spices: to lean into those savory cheddar cheese vibes. The nutritional yeast is especially important because it has a naturally cheesy flavor!
How to Make Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Here at Joyful Balance we like to keep things simple. Here are the basics of today’s simple recipe! (As always, full recipe down below!)
- Bring a pot of water with cashews and carrot to a boil. Let boil until soft.
- Drain the water and add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Heat your mixture on the stovetop until it gets thick and cheesy.
- Spread your vegan cheese sauce on whatever you’d like. Enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
I wouldn’t mess much with the actual recipe itself here. The consistency is pretty specific, and too much experimenting could unintentionally mess with it! However, I of course still have some fun ideas for you.
- Since this recipe is intended to be spreadable, it comes out decently thick. If you’d like your sauce a bit thinner, follow the directions as written up to step 3. Then, towards the end of the stovetop process in step 3, add a couple splashes of water for a thinner consistency. This might be a nice option if you plan on pouring the sauce on roasted veggies or using it as a dip instead of a spread!
- As I’ve mentioned, this makes a fantastic vegan grilled cheese. Check out the notes below the recipe directions for how I recommend assembling your perfect grilled cheese sandwich!
- If you love the grilled cheese vibes but don’t want it to be quite so filling, you could also spread this vegan cheese sauce on toast for a savory breakfast option! Top it with your veggies of choice and enjoy!
- This would also be fun to serve with crackers and veggies on a cute little vegan charcuterie board!
- To reheat leftover Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce, simply add your leftover sauce to a small sauce pan and bring to medium heat on the stovetop while stirring. You may need to add a couple splashes of water as it will have likely thickened in the fridge!
- Wanting more delicious vegan sauces? Check out my Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Creamy Vegan Avocado Pesto, or Roasted Poblano Sauce next!
Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce (& Spread)!
This Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce is great as a spread on crackers and sandwiches, and it makes the absolute best vegan grilled cheese (check out the notes below for how to assemble a grilled cheese if desired!). This recipe is pretty easy to make and comes together in less than 30 minutes. If you want a delicious and cheesy experience but without the dairy, you’ve come to the right place!
*Note that From Start to Finish is an estimate that includes time to prep your ingredients as well as complete the recipe directions. If you are also making a vegan grilled cheese with the sauce, that time is not included in this estimate.
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 small/medium carrot, roughly chopped
1.5 Tbsp tapioca starch
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
- Add your cashews and carrot to a small pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil on the stovetop, and allow the mixture to boil for 15 minutes (or until the carrots and cashews are both very soft and easily pierced with a fork).
- Drain the water and add the cashews and carrot to a high powered blender. Add all other ingredients to the blender as well. Blend until very smooth.
- Pour your blended mixture into a small pot or sauce pan and stir constantly as you bring it to medium-high heat on the stovetop. When you first pour in your mixture it will be very runny, but after a couple of minutes it will begin to thicken. Once your mixture is thick and cheesy, remove from the heat. (If you’d like your cheese sauce to be a bit thinner, feel free to add a couple splashes of water and incorporate as needed before removing from heat). This entire stovetop process should take about 3-5 minutes.
- Spread on whatever you’d like and enjoy! (If using for a vegan grilled cheese, please see the notes below on how I recommend assembling your sandwich!*)
- *If using for a grilled cheese:
-Bring a skillet to medium heat
-Add plant based butter to each side of two pieces of bread
-Toast each side of both pieces of bread in the skillet (2-4 min each side)
-Remove bread from skillet and add 2-3 Tbsp of the Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce to each piece of bread. Sandwich the pieces together to form your grilled cheese sandwich.
-Add your sandwich back to the skillet (still on medium heat). Flip a couple of times, until both sides of your sandwich are crisped up to your liking (typically 1-2 min on each side).
-Remove from skillet and enjoy!
Stay joyfully balanced!