One scoop of the Best Vegan Cheese Sauce and you’ll be hooked! Made in one pot in less than 5 minutes with super simple ingredients. No nuts, potatoes, carrots or blender needed! This all purpose dairy free cheese is perfect for nachos, mac and cheese, tacos, burgers and more.
The short list of ingredients in this Vegan Cheese Sauce recipe are incredibly simple. No need for cashews, carrots, potatoes, or messy blending either. All you have to do is whisk everything together in a pot, heat it up, and dip away!
Every bite is creamy, ooey gooey, and perfect for dipping. Get creative with how you serve it! It has endless uses and is delicious on everything, from baked potatoes to pizza to nachos.
I call this the best vegan cheese sauce because it’s:
- Silky smooth
- Nut free and allergy friendly!
- Made in 1 pot
- Quick and easy
Craving more dairy free cheese sauce recipes? Be sure to try my Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce and this Vegan Cheese Sauce made from potatoes and carrots.
Ingredients needed (with substitutions)
- Plant milk – Hemp, soy, cashew, full fat coconut milk, or oat milk. Full fat coconut milk will make the sauce richer and creamier but it truly works well with any other unsweetened plant milk you like.
- Tapioca starch – The starch will help thicken the sauce and give it that signature cheesy stretch. Feel free to use cornstarch or arrowroot powder instead.
- Nutritional yeast – For cheesy flavors of course!
- Lemon juice – The acid and tang in citrus juice or apple cider vinegar will balance the savory flavors.
- Garlic powder
- Ground mustard
How to make it
This is simply an overview with photos. For the full, printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Add all of the cheese sauce ingredients to a small pot and whisk until smooth.
Turn the heat up and bring it to a simmer while stirring frequently. Once it’s simmering, turn the heat down and stir for 1 or 2 minutes straight. This is when the sauce will start to thicken and become stretchy.
Is it too thick? Use less tapioca starch or add a little water to thin it out.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Once it’s to your liking, serve the cheese right away!
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your ooey gooey cheese sauce, but these are some of my favorites:
- Stir it into a big pot of mac and cheese or in this mac and cheese bake.
- Use it as a dipping sauce with quesadillas, tortilla chips, potato wedges, or french fries.
- Drizzle it over nachos, tacos, vegan pizza, or a loaded baked potato.
- Pour a little on your burger for cheesy bites.
- Add some on top of your steamed veggies, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.
Frequently asked questions
- Does this cheese sauce melt? This recipe is better off being used as a dip or spread because it’s so loose and creamy. If you need a vegan cheese that melts, check out my vegan cheddar cheese.
- How long does vegan cheese sauce last in the fridge? The cheese sauce will keep for about 1 week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Can you freeze it? Sure! Keep the sauce in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw, then heat it on the stove until it’s back to its creamy texture.
Want more cheesy vegan recipes?
- Shreddable Vegan Mozzarella
- Vegan Feta Cheese
- Stretchy Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- 5 Minute Vegan Cream Cheese
Best Vegan Cheese Sauce (All Purpose, NO Cashews)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened hemp milk* or soy, cashew, oat or full fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- Add all ingredients to a small pot and whisk until smooth.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently.
- Once simmering, turn the heat down to low-medium and stir constantly for a minute or two. The sauce should get fairly stretchy and thicken. If you want a thinner sauce, use less tapioca starch, or add additional water to thin it out.
- Taste; adjust seasonings as desired. Sometimes I add a little extra salt.
- Enjoy immediately! I use this cheese sauce everywhere: pizza, mac and cheese, baked potatoes, nachos, quesadillas, tacos, burgers, fries and more.
- For a richer, thicker cheese sauce, use canned full fat coconut milk. 1 can is just about perfect. It works well with any unsweetened, unflavored plant milk though. My favorite is hemp milk!
- Leftover cheese sauce will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator, in an airtight container. It can also be frozen if needed.
New to plant based. Thought I would try. I omitted the yeast on purpose and it was a decent cheese. I added more salt. My husband is particular and only had a couple chips with it. I then added Rotel and ate the rest. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing, Lisa. I’m glad you liked the cheese sauce. I hope you’ll check out some of the other cheese sauce recipes I have. Happy cooking!
Wow! Way too nutritional yeasty!
Texture weird, too yellow! I used coconut milk followed recipe exact!
Not my favorite vegan cheese recipe!
Still searching! Sorry.
It improved with more lemon, salt, dash of pepper! But the yeast flavor is wayyy
too much…. I get it’s the cheesy part but it’s just not quite balance.
I wonder if you tried it with another plant milk (something thinner, like soy or cashew milk) and less nutritional yeast, then maybe the texture/taste would be more to your liking? Coconut milk does make it particularly richer than other kinds. Thank you for the feedback regardless!
Love all of Nora’s vegan cheeses but this is so easy to make and versatile! It’s my fav for sure. When I make it as an appetizer with chips for get togethers, it’s always a crowd pleaser!
I’m so glad you liked it! And thank you so much for your review 🙂
I have been looking for this all purpose cheese sauce forever!! I tried the Queso Blanco cheese sauce and my husband who is not vegan was fooled by it!! He thought it was better than the regular cheese sauce. Thank you for sharing another one of your genius recipes!!
You are welcome, Heidi. How fabulous you guys are loving the cheese sauces! Thanks for your great feedback and review!
I’ve tried several cheese sauce recipes that include potatoes, carrots, etc., but none of them hit the mark. This sauce, though….wow. I added a tiny bit more salt at the end, once I tasted it. It is spot on. I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but I’m looking to cut dairy out of my diet. This will be my go-to cheese sauce for nachos, mac & cheese, veggies – everything that calls for it. I even went a step further and added a little salsa to a small bowl of it and dipped some tortilla chips in it. Perfection. Nora, I can’t thank you enough for this recipe. I can’t wait to share it with my family!
Hi Summer. I am so happy that you love this cheese sauce! Thank you for sharing your fabulous feedback and wonderful ideas! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!
Made this since I was craving broccoli and cheese, I added some red pepper and red chile powder to make it spicy!
Had some extra so I used some spare pasta we had and melted a few chao shreds in to make a quick mac n cheese, my bf and sister ended up eating all of it LOL will make again!
Summer, Your review gave me hope. I have tried every recipe out the. As a cheese lover, none came close. Feeling defeated as I need a good vegan cheese sauce. Fingers crossed, Nora!!! I trust you!
Hi Ari. Thanks for the trust! Enjoy the cheese sauce!
Thank you so much for the great recipe! The sauce was surprisingly cheesy. My pescatarian husband was very pleased with the sauce. He was very surprised by how good it was. He even went back for seconds.
Hi Cheryl. Thanks for sharing your feedback! I’m so glad you and your husband loved the cheese sauce!
I LOVE this sauce!!! 🤩🤌🏼So yummy, easy and low fat! I added some cayenne to mine for a kick, and I added more salt and lemon juice since our sauce was for plain pasta and broccoli. My husband is newly vegan, and it was a huge hit with him too. 🙌🏼
I’m thrilled you and your husband loved the cheese sauce! Thanks for your terrific review!
I make this all the time because it’s the only vegan mac n cheese sauce I’ve found that tastes and feels like the “real” thing on every level, and also, it’s so easy to make! But also, I was wondering: I can never find ground mustard, so I always just exclude it. Could I use turmeric in its place, or is that excessive since it’s already in the recipe? Is there another potential substitute? Thanks as always for another great recipe Nora!
Hi Max, thank you so much for your wonderful review! Regular yellow mustard (use 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp) is probably the best replacement for ground mustard here. It has almost the same flavor, whereas turmeric would only really contribute to the color of the cheese sauce. Hope this helps!
He for a week? Ha ha only if you don’t like it otherwise it’s gone the same day!
I get it!
Thank you! New to plant-based and this is a keeper.
Thank you for this amazing recipe.
i will try very soon but i wonder want is the orange ingredient?
Kiss from Portugal
The orange ingredient is turmeric. It helps give the “cheese” a yellow-ish, orange color. Happy cooking!
Hey bestie i was wondering what chips you used for the cheese.
I can’t remember the brand actually, but just some tortilla chips from my grocery store chain. 🙂
Grazie! I have a hard time with my nut intolerance and this might help me. I will try and let you know
You are welcome! I hope it works for you and that you enjoy it! Happy cooking!
Has anyone tried adding salsa to make this queso?
I made this cheese sauce with original almond milk. I also used corn starch instead of tapioca starch. It was very thick and perfect to use on pasta. It did not have a stretchy consistency. It’s Perfect for Mac n noncheese. Enjoy!
This cheese came out great. Perfect consistency. I did double the recipe and it was perfect for a pound of elbows. I had just 6 Tbl. of tapioca starch. Could I use potato starch or arrowroot if I’m out of tapioca? We’ll definitely be having this again. Thanks!
I’m so glad that you loved the cheese sauce! Feel free to use cornstarch or arrowroot powder instead of tapioca. Thank you for sharing your review and comments! Happy cooking!
Will this amount of cheese cover one pound of macaroni?
It should, but you could always double the recipe just to be safe. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with too much cheese sauce!
This is a delicious and simple to prepare cheese sauce…. much easier than the one I usually make! My 12 yr. old son loves to dip raw vegetables or crackers in it!
I enjoyed it on a baked potato and it was so good. I did add a couple of dashes of Tabasco because we like with a bit more spice 🙂
Thanks so much, Nora, for another fabulous recipe!
A bit of hot sauce in the cheese sauce sounds delicious! So glad you and your son loved the recipe!
I was so excited to see this recipe, and even more excited that we already had the ingredients in our pantry! We did swap the oat milk for almond, but it still came out tasting wonderful! I added the extra pinch of salt at the end as recommended too, and it was the perfect cheese sauce! We put it on baked potatoes with bbq tofu and it was amazing, but we’ll be making this with a lot of different things in the future. Thanks for another awesome recipe!
Hi Savannah. I have been using a LOT of this cheese sauce lately! It goes with so many food items! I’m glad you loved it! Thank you for sharing your review and wonderful feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!
This is exciting! Cashews can be pricey, and this recipe seems so simple. Thank you Nora I’ll try it soon and leave an updated review!
Can’t wait for you to try the cheese sauce! Happy cooking!
i have not tried this yet, but looking forward to creating this and enjoying this. i am allergic to nuts, so the best i could do was eat mac and cheese made with garbanzo beans.
can’t wait to try your recipe. also, i am happy i ran across you because you seem to be a no nonsense, matter of fact, you can do this much ez-r than you think!!
Yes! Looks easy. If I wanted to make this into a beer cheese dip how much less plant milk should I use?
I haven’t adjusted one of my cheese sauce recipes into a beer cheese dip before. If you need the texture of this recipe to be thicker, only use between 3/4 cup and 1 cup of milk.
My husband and I made a half batch of this for lunch and devoured it with tortilla chips! We love your recipes and this one was particularly easy and affordable. We’ll definitely be making it often! 🙂
I’m so glad you and your husband loved the cheese sauce! Thanks for sharing your review and feedback! Happy cooking!
I’ll try this. The last time I made cashew sauce it came out gritty. I guess my blender wasn’t high powered enough. Thank you, Nora.