Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe

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This Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce comes with two variations for an allergy-friendly twist on a classic comfort food recipe that has all the traditional flavors you love with whole food ingredients full of healthy fats, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Use it to create mac & cheese, add it to casseroles, drizzle it over nachos, and more! 

overhead image of vegan mac and cheese sauce in a blue bowl

Boxed Cheese Sauce Made Better & Vegan

Who doesn’t love a good cheese sauce? Whether you’re making more traditional recipes like Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Vegan Jalapeno Mac and Cheese, using it as a dip with chips, or adding it to a casserole like my Tex-Mex Egg and Cheese Cauliflower Casserole, there’s no wrong way to eat it. Plus, it’s kid-friendly and super easy to use making it a meal prep staple! 

While I love a good cheese sauce as much as the next person, I don’t always love the ingredients found in store-bought versions, such as milk protein powder and whey. Those ingredients can be hard to digest even if you don’t have a food allergy.  So, I decided to create my own vegan cheese sauce recipe instead! However, in the process I got a little carried away, and I created not one but two recipes for all your allergy-friendly cooking needs. 

Overhead image of mac and cheese in a dutch oven with vegan cheese sauce.

One is perfect to use in instances when you need a thicker sauce such as with dips or pasta. The second is more of a slurry, perfect to add to soups. The best part? Both recipes are super simple and made with wholesome ingredients that will leave you full and satisfied without feeling sluggish. 

Sounds good, right? So, let’s get cooking! 

How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce (2 Ways)

Making a Roux with Video!

If you’re unfamiliar, a roux is considered a thickening agent and made out of equal parts flour (gluten-free) and fat often used as a base for soups, stews, sauces, and more. 

To make this roux-inspired vegan cheese sauce, start by melting butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder making sure to stir for 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat or until the color of the sauce gets slightly nuttier. 

Pro Tip

Pro-Tip:  The texture will likely be very viscous at first. Just keep stirring! The starchy flavor will cook out, and the texture will improve. Also, be sure to use a gluten-free all-purpose flour without any gums like xanthan gum. 

Then, gradually add in the milk while constantly whisking. Keep adding a little at a time until the texture smooths out, and whisk in the vegetable broth. Next, whisk the sauce until all lumps are smoothed out and a soft boil is reached. Immediately reduce to low after it reaches a soft boil.

Pro Tip

Note: The sauce will be very thick. To make it thinner, add an extra splash of vegetable broth. 

To finish, continue whisking for 30 seconds, and add the nutritional yeast, turmeric, and paprika. Stir until all of the ingredients are well-mixed, and enjoy. See NOTES BELOW about reheating and texture of the sauce.

Watch the video here!

YouTube Video

Making a Slurry

If you’re a bit pinched on time or want a thinner sauce, opt for the second cooking method instead! While the methods are similar, this version comes together super quickly and creates a sort of a thinner versus thick sauce. Great for coating pasta!

overhead image of a spoon of vegan cheese sauce for mac and cheese being held over a pot.

Begin by whisking the coconut or almond milk with the broth, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic, and arrowroot powder. Bring the mixture to a soft boil the reduce the heat to low. Then, stir continuously until a thickened cheese-like sauce is formed. Your sauce should be pretty thick after 5-8 minutes!  

Pro Tip

Pro-Tip: If you want an even thinner sauce, add a few tablespoons of milk. 

The Difference between a Slurry and a Roux

As mentioned, a slurry is much thinner than a roux. Both can be used to thicken a recipe, but there are a few major differences. For example, a slurry is typically added at the end of cooking while a roux is commonly used to start a sauce. In addition, a slurry does not have to be cooked and requires no fat while a roux is cooked and created with fats such as butter and oil. A slurry comes together much faster than a roux and is a great option when you’re in a pinch. However, if you’ve got the extra time, a good roux never disappoints. The richer flavor and thicker consistency makes it much more versatile, perfect for mac and cheese, casseroles, soups, and more. 

Overhead image of vegan cheese sauce being used in mac and cheese in a white dutch oven.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

A common ingredient in vegan cheese sauce recipes, nutritional yeast is a type of yeast species that is also used to make bread and beer. However, unlike baker’s and brewer’s yeasts, nutritional yeast is grown specifically to be used on its own as a food. This means that the active yeast cells are not alive in the final product which has a nutty or cheese-like taste. Plus, it’s loaded with nutrients such as all 9 essential amino acids, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, manganese, and more.  As a result, nutritional yeast has a wide variety of health benefits including protection from chronic diseases caused by oxidative stress, boosted immunity, and lowered cholesterol levels.

Nutrition Tip

Nutrition Tip: Be sure to use a quality nutritional yeast that is 100% naturally gluten-free. 

Vegan cheese sauce in a blue bowl on a white tabletop

Tips for making Vegan Cheese Sauce

How should I store homemade cheese sauce? 

To store your sauce, place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. See notes below about reheating and texture. 

Can I freeze this recipe? 

Yes, if stored in an airtight container, vegan cheese sauce will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

How should I reheat frozen leftovers? 

If your cheese sauce has been in the freezer, first defrost it in the fridge. Then, add it to a saucepan on medium heat, and whisk in 1-3 tablespoons of milk or broth until the desired consistency has been reached. 

How should I reheat refrigerated leftovers?

Once the sauce cools (when storing in the fridge), the texture will become a bit more viscous. Similar to that of hummus. To thin it out again, simply reheat in a saucepan and whisk in non-dairy milk or broth if needed.

Why isn’t my sauce very yellow? 

If your sauce isn’t as vibrant as the pictures, it is likely due to the nutritional yeast used. Each version varies in weight and B vitamins are included which can alter the color. The taste should remain the same, but if you want to create that beautiful yellow hue, try adding turmeric and paprika to the mix.

Close up image of vegan mac and cheese sauce being used as a dip.

More DIY Sauces & Dips


Overhead image of cheddar mac and cheese with a spoon.

Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe

  • Author:
    Lindsay Cotter

  • Prep Time:
    5 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    7 minutes

  • Total Time:
    12 minutes

  • Yield:
    2/3 cup

  • Diet:


This Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce comes with two variations for an allergy-friendly twist on a classic comfort food recipe that has all the traditional flavors you love with whole food ingredients full of healthy fats, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber.



Roux Version (thick and creamy)

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted vegan butter or 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 c + ( equal to 35g) gluten-free all-purpose flour (no xanthan gum)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk, canned (non-dairy may be substituted – richness of sauce will vary)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast or 1/2 cup finely shredded vegan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric for color
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika

Slurry Version (thinner and just as delicious)

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2+ cup vegetable broth or water (as needed depending on desired thickness)
  • 2/3 cup to 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 11/2 to 2 Tablespoons arrowroot starch or tapioca starch (2 Tablespoons will create a very thick sauce, adjust accordingly).
  • Optional 2 teaspoons hot sauce or 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika


Roux Version (thick and creamy)

  1. To prepare the roux, melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low until the color of roux gets slightly nuttier in color. The texture might be very viscous at first, but keep stirring with a spatula or spoon to cook out the starchy flavor. 
  2. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisk constantly as it will be very thick. Keep adding a little at a time until it smooths out.
  3. Next, whisk in the vegetable broth. Depending on the type of flour you use, you need to add more to help thin it out. Whisk until all lumps are removed.  
  4. Once it reaches a soft boil, reduce to medium low or low and whisk for 30 seconds. 
  5. Add the nutritional yeast, turmeric, and paprika last stirring over low heat or off heat. 
  6. Serve immediately or store the sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days. Note: it will change the texture and thicken once chilled. To thin it out again, simply reheat in a saucepan and whisk in 1-2 Tablespoons milk/broth if needed.

Slurry Version (thinner and just as delicious)

  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together slurry ingredients.
  2. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to low and stir continuously until a thickened “cheesy” sauce is formed.
  3. Add a few tablespoons more milk if you need to thin out sauce before adding to pasta. Notes: Depending on the type of pasta you use, you made need to make more sauce. Some pastas absorb the sauce more than others. 


Nutritional yeasts vary by weight/B vitamins. Which can alter the color. So if your sauce isn’t very yellow, add turmeric and paprika. 

Roux yields  2/3 cup. Slurry yields 1 cup. 

  • Category: condiment
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: cheese, vegan, cheddar cheese, non-dairy cheese, mac and cheese, cheese sauce

This recipe has been tried and tested time and time again, and the consensus is always the same. It’s great! You’ll never go back to the boxed versions again. Let me know how you’ll use this easy vegan cheese sauce in the comments below! 




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