This easy veggie cheese sauce is a healthy alternative to cheese that is made with simple plant-based ingredients and pureed into a delicious vegan cheese sauce that will get even picky eaters to eat their vegetables! Made with squash, carrots, and your choice of cashews, beans, or potatoes, this cheese sauce is packed with nutrients and flavor!
If you want to sneak more vegetables into your kids, or you just want to eat mac and cheese or nachos without guilt, this recipe is for you! It's a thick, creamy, and cheesy sauce packed with plant-based nutrients and 129% of your RDA of vitamin A!
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- It's quick and easy to make with simple ingredients.
- The sauce is full of healthy vegetables.
- It's plant-based, gluten-free, soy-free, and easily made nut-free or oil-free too.
🧾 Ingredients and substitutions
- Squash - any type of squash will work. I usually use yellow squash or butternut squash, but you can use any type. You will need 2 cups of any variety that you choose.
- Carrots - for flavor and color. You will need about 2 medium or 10 baby carrots.
- Oil - just a little olive oil, vegan butter, or other neutral-flavored oil to warm the garlic in to bring out the flavor. You can omit the oil to make it oil-free.
- Garlic - for flavor.
- Vegetable Broth - to give the cheese sauce more flavor. You can also use water.
- Nutritional Yeast - to give it a cheesier flavor. You can leave it out if you want, it will still have a nice flavor. Check out this link for more about nutritional yeast.
- Onion Powder - for flavor.
- Paprika - for flavor. Smoked paprika gives a great smokey flavor if you want that.
- Turmeric - for color and nutrition. (optional)
- Lemon Juice - for flavor and to give the cheese a little acidity.
- Cashews, Potatoes, or White Beans - to make the sauce thick and creamy. For this you can choose from 1 cup of cashews, 1 1/4 cups of diced potato, or 1 can of white beans - drained and rinsed. I like to use cashews to give the sauce a rich and creamy texture. (No need to soak the cashews beforehand, they will soften when cooked with the squash.) Potatoes and beans also work great, but they will not be as smooth and creamy as cashews.
- Salt - for flavor.
🔪 Helpful tools
Immersion Blender - or a traditional blender. I prefer to use a metal stick blender aka immersion blender, so I don't have to transfer hot liquid and so that the hot sauce doesn't come in contact with plastic.
Step 1 - Put some oil in a saucepan and add minced garlic. Turn on the heat to the lowest setting and let the garlic warm in the oil while you are preparing the other ingredients.
Step 2 - Peel and cut squash and carrots into bite-sized pieces and toss them in with the oil and garlic.
Step 3 - Add your choice of cashews, white beans, or potatoes.
Step 4 - Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, onion powder, paprika, turmeric, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Turn up the heat to medium and allow to boil slowly for about 10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft enough to break apart when you stick a fork in them.
Step 5 - Blend with an immersion blender for about 2-3 minutes until very smooth and creamy. (or transfer to a blender to blend)
Step 6 - Use as you would any cheese sauce. Pour over pasta or use it as a cheese dip, or make loaded vegan nachos with it.
🥦How to use the sauce
Use this plant-based cheese sauce poured over vegan nachos, TVP tacos, tempeh tacos, fajitas, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, or cauliflower. You can also use it to make healthy vegan mac and cheese.
🥡 How to store vegetable cheese sauce
Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 3 - 5 days in a sealed container. You can freeze this cheese sauce too. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
🔥 How to reheat cheese sauce
Reheat the leftover sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop until warm. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to thin out the sauce if it is too thick.
You will find many types of vegan cheeses and cheese sauces on my site. Just as there are many types of cheese, there are many types of vegan cheese as well. This sauce doesn't taste exactly like cheese, but it has a great cheesy flavor that will satisfy your cravings. If you want a cheese sauce that tastes more like real cheese check out my vegan nacho cheese sauce.
🧀 More vegan cheeses
- Vegan Smoked Gouda
- Vegan Garlic Herb
- Vegan Pepper Jack
- Melty Vegan Mozzarella
- Vegan Cheddar
- Vegan Cream Cheese
If you are interested in learning how to make more easy homemade vegan cheeses, check out my cookbook, "The Ultimate Guide to Easy Vegan Cheese Making."
📌 Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for new vegan recipes!
Veggie Cheese Sauce
- immersion blender or regular blender
- 2 cups butternut squash (or summer squash) cut, peeled and cubed
- 2 medium carrots or about 10 baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspooon paprika or smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup raw cashews or 1 1/4 cup potatoes peeled and cubed, or 1 can of white beans drained and rinsed.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (The amount needed will depend on sodium in your broth and personal preference.)
- Put some oil in a saucepan and add minced garlic. Turn on the heat to the lowest setting and let the garlic warm in the oil while you are preparing the other ingredients.
- Peel and cut squash and carrots into bite-sized pieces and toss them in with the oil and garlic.
- Add your choice of cashews, white beans, or potatoes.
- Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, onion powder, paprika, turmeric, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Turn up the heat to medium and allow to boil slowly for about 10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft enough to break apart when you stick a fork in them.
- Blend with an immersion blender for about 2-3 minutes until very smooth and creamy (or transfer to a blender to blend).
- Use as you would any cheese sauce. Pour over pasta or use it as a cheese dip, or make loaded vegan nachos with it.
- Omit the oil for an oil-free cheese.
- Add 1 tsp of miso paste just before blending for a more cheddar cheese flavor. (Omit the salt if you do this since miso is salty.)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Click the stars above or leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!
I was wondering how long it’ll freeze for?
It will stay good in the freezer for 3 months in an air-tight container.
Tricia Neville says
I made this sauce this evening and it was amazing! I used cashew nuts and I added a teaspoon of miso paste and mixed the sauce with pasta. I can't believe how rich and delicious this sauce is, and I have plenty left over to top some broccoli tomorrow. I love the sunshine yellow colour (from the carrots, butternut squash and turmeric) and if I didn't know any better, would swear it was made from a really nice Red Leicester cheese!
This cheese sauce always surprises me with how rich and creamy it can be when it's mostly veggies. I'm so happy that you liked the recipe! 🙂
does the cashews need to be soaked over night?
No, there is no need to soak the cashews ahead of time. Enjoy! 🙂
I'm allergic to yeast. Would the cheese sauce taste just as good if I omitted it? Or, is there a substitution you would recommend?
I was looking at the comments for this exact question. I was thinking of trying the recipe without the yeast. My mom also has an allergy to yeast.
By far the best cheese sauce and mac and cheese I've made and eaten. I love my local vegan mac and cheese food truck but love this sauce even more. I've even made my picky (non vegan) partner a believer! I used cashews and added some bottled hot sauce for a subtle kick and the vinegar in the sauce helped cut the sweetness. It has the best texture and reheats really well! I've been searching and experimenting for a long time and have finally found my go-to, staple recipe! Thank you!
I'm so happy that you liked it, Wendy! 🙂
I made this a while ago and it's AWESOME! Tomorrow I come off a water-only fast and need to eat only veggies for a couple of days, but it will be New Years Day. So I'm going to make this again with potatoes instead of cashews to dip steamed veggies in--like a fondue--for a festive meal that will keep my tummy happy during the re-feed.
Can I use frozen butternut squash?
Yes, frozen butternut squash will work fine. Enjoy! 🙂
Sounds interesting! Will definitely give it a try. What about storage? How long can we store this?
It will keep for up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge or you can freeze it up to 3 months. 🙂
OMG! I didn't think that this was going to taste this good! I used it to make mac and cheese for my kids. I thought that they would complain and not eat any, but they even asked for seconds! Thank you for this recipe!