I’ve made countless batches of vegan cheese sauces that rely on blended cashews for creaminess. And while they’re very tasty—and arguably cheese-like, thanks to nutritional yeast—they’re not quite like the vegan cheese sauce I remember from childhood.
You know the one. It’s the kind that my mom used to put on baked potatoes, pasta, and which I’ve had on many plates of nachos. It’s smooth, creamy, salty, and a little stretchy.
The world of store-bought vegan cheese is expanding. New vegan cheese shreds—ones that really do achieve a melty, gooey texture—are making this kind of cheese sauce possible in a non-dairy form.
I recommend using cheddar shreds from the Violife, Moocho, or Daiya brands for this recipe. Once the sauce is made, it can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days and reheated in a small saucepan. Use it as a dip, a topping for enchiladas or potato skins, or even with cooked pasta for a last-minute shortcut mac n’ cheese. —Gena Hamshaw
1 1/2 tablespoons
unsweetened oat, soy, cashew, or almond milk
1 1/2 cups
vegan cheddar-style cheese shreds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
In This Recipe
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and nutritional yeast. Stir to combine and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Pour in the milk in a thin, slow, and steady stream, whisking constantly.
Bring the milk to a gentle simmer. When it’s thickened (2 to 3 minutes—it should coat the back of a spoon), start adding the cheese in handfuls, stirring as you go. Continue to simmer for a few minutes, until the sauce is thick and all of the cheese is completely melted. Serve immediately.
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.