This is the ultimate vegan cheese sauce recipe made with cauliflower and sweet potato. As a staple recipe in my house, I’ve made this countless times at it never disappoints.
While there are plenty of vegan cheese sauce recipes out there, using a combination of cauliflower and sweet potato provides the best flavor and creaminess!
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How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce
There are 3 main ways to make vegan cheese sauce:
- Take a non-vegan cheese sauce recipe and substitute for vegan ingredients. For example, if a recipe calls for butter, milk and cheese, use vegan butter, plant-based milk and a vegan cheese alternative.
- Use soaked cashews (or other nuts) and blend them with plant milk and other flavoring ingredients to make a sauce.
- Use cooked vegetables and blend them with flavorful ingredients.
This recipe falls into the blended vegetable category! While there’s certainly nothing wrong with the other two options, opting for a cheese sauce made primarily from vegetables can be a great way to boost your intake of essential nutrients.
Vegan Cheese Sauce with Nutritional Yeast
The main way to flavor any type of vegan cheese sauce is with nutritional yeast. Also known as “nooch”, nutritional yeast is a fantastic staple for a vegan kitchen.
Nutritional yeast is packed with both flavor and, you guessed it, nutrition! This key ingredient really brings the cheese flavor to any vegan cheese sauce recipe.
Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Sauce Recipe
This vegan cheese sauce recipe uses two main vegetables: cauliflower and sweet potato.
Many other vegan cheese sauce recipes call for potatoes and carrots. I’ve tried a few of these recipes, and while they are tasty, I personally prefer the flavors that cauliflower and sweet potato bring to the table.
Cauliflower can be a pretty potent-tasting vegetable, but when combined with all the other flavors in this cheese sauce, you can’t really notice the taste (unless you don’t like cauliflower, in which case you may pick up the flavor).
Sweet Potato Vegan Cheese Sauce
Using sweet potato is a fantastic option for making a creamy and rich vegan cheese sauce. Sweet potato vegan cheese sauce, compared to a recipe made with white potato, will be more flavorful. The sweetness from the sweet potato brings a nice depth of flavor to the cheese sauce, and contrasts well with the salty and tangy flavors in this recipe.
In addition, sweet potato provides some extra nutrition compared to white potato. Sweet potatoes are higher in beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), which is an important nutrient, especially in vegan diets.
Using sweet potato in a vegan cheese sauce creates a final product that is more orange in color. While this may not be important to you, sometimes people like the nostalgia of creating vegan versions of childhood favorites. Having a meal that’s similar in color may help with that nostalgia.
How to Serve Vegan Cheese Sauce
This vegan cheese sauce recipe is extremely versatile. As I noted, this cheese sauce is a staple in my house, and for good reason. Vegan cheese sauce can be served with/ on:
- Mac and cheese/ pasta
- Steamed, grilled or baked veggies
- Regular or sweet potato fries
- Chips, pretzels, bread etc. as a dip (get creative with what you can dip!)
- Sandwiches or wraps, as a sauce/ spread
- As a nacho cheese dip (especially if you spice it up with some canned jalapeno peppers!)
- Chili – or chili cheese fries!
- Pizza – use this instead of tomato sauce (or with tomato sauce) for a creamy and delicious vegan pizza. Or dip your pizza into it.
There are so many ways to use/ serve vegan cheese sauce. If you have any additional ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Can you Freeze Vegan Cheese Sauce?
Yes! This vegan cheese sauce recipe freezes extremely well.
After preparing the sauce, let it cool completely then place into freezer safe containers. It can stay frozen for 3-4 months.
When you are ready to use it, thaw it out until you can get the sauce out of the container. Then heat it up over medium heat in a pot on the stove (stirring frequently) until it is warm again.
I love keeping a batch of this in the freezer. We mainly use it to make mac and cheese, chili cheese fries, or as a pizza sauce!
Tips for Cooking a Delicious Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Keep a close eye on the veggies as they cook. If the sweet potato is overcooked, the sauce can end up tasting a bit starchy.
- This recipe works with any blender. For the longest time I didn’t have a high-powered blender and this recipe worked perfectly with my (extremely) old blender.
- Soaking the cashews is key to a creamy sauce, especially if you don’t have a high power blender. If you don’t have cashews soaked and ready-to-go, soak them for 20 minutes in boiling water OR just toss them into the veggies while they cook.
- If you don’t have tamari, you can substitute it for regular soy sauce.
Most of the time, I toss my cashews in with the veggies as they cook. This softens them up extremely well. Since I’ve had a high-powered blender, I no longer need to keep nuts soaking in the fridge, but using soaked cashews does make for a creamier sauce. I may update this recipe in the future to make this the standard direction, but for now, enjoy this as a great vegan cheese sauce tip!
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Cheese Sauce (Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Base)
- ½ cup onion
- 2 cups cauliflower (large pieces)
- 1 ¼ cups sweet potato
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup cashews (soaked and drained*)
- ½ cup plant-based milk , unsweetened (not flavored)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon miso paste (white type)
- ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric (optional, for extra color)
- Roughly chop the onion, cut the cauliflower into medium sized florets, and cube the sweet potato.½ cup onion, 2 cups cauliflower, 1 ¼ cups sweet potato
- Place these vegetables into a pot with water.1 cup water
- Bring the pot up to a boil and cook for about 8 minutes (with no lid), until the cauliflower and sweet potato are fork tender. Take the pot off the heat.
- Place the remaining ingredients into a blender then add the vegetable mixture along with the cooking water.½ cup cashews, ½ cup plant-based milk, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon tamari, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ tablespoon miso paste, ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- Blend on the highest speed until the sauce is creamy and smooth.
- Pour, dip, spread or use in any way you choose!
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.