Two Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipes - Which One Will I Like Best? (note just added a 3rd!)

My amazing tribe offers a very diverse set of friends - different religions, political views, ethnic origins, careers, diets and more.  As I love them all and are so grateful for their support, I try to keep a few recipes on hand that offer options for anyone embracing a specific diet or facing food allergies.

I personally love dairy and could put cheese in almost everything I make, so it was no surprise one day to see all my favourite guest recipes included it.  I've made a real effort since then to expand what I could offer. All I want is a table that has at least one dish anyone can dive into. If for some reason it doesn't work one time, I encourage them to bring their own food. I am not offended.

The recipe at the very bottom for a simpler version of Vegan Cheese was one I stumbled across on social media. I jumped in and tried it, but ended up one of the very few who weren't blown away by it. Most comments, and there are hundreds, are super complimentary.  

My version came out with a mealy texture - typical of potatoes. In posting my comments on it, the consensus was I needed to use a blender instead of the food processor I had.  But even the blender has to be up to a certain standard - a Vitamix would be best. And I personally decided my nutritional yeast was probably old and needed replacing. 

When I shared a link to this recipe recently, someone posted a link to the recipe at the top and I was intrigued. It's very similar, but has some pickled jalapenos it in to add more flavour and a touch of zip.  Now THAT really calls me. But again, the notes for this second recipe also indicate the blender is important..."You’ll need a Vitamix or Blendtec. I’ve made it in a Magic Bullet in a half batch and it also worked well."  So I have to think on this one.

For now, I'll try them both in the basic blender I currently own to evaluate the taste of each and pick a personal winner.  Then I'll start saving my pennies for a more upscale appliance.  It's a good investment if I can find one that is a juicer as well in my price range. 

You'll have to check back in a week or two to see which one I personally picked for top honours. In the meantime, if you try them, be sure to comment with your personal preferences.  


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Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce From Hot For Food

Ingredients - 

1 C                 White potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 C              Carrots, peeled and cubed
1/4 C              Vegetable oil
1/4 C              Non-dairy milk
2 tsp               Lemon juice
6                     Pickled jalapeño slices
3 T                 Jalapeño pickle brine
1 T                 Tomato paste
1-1/2 tsp         Arrowroot flour
1 tsp               Garlic powder
1 tsp               Onion powder
1 tbsp             Nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp            Sea salt

Instructions -

Boil the potatoes and carrots in pot of water for approximately 10 minutes. Drain them from the boiling water and add to a high-powered blender immediately. If you cook the potatoes for too long, they will become starchy and your sauce will not be smooth. This recipe will not work in a conventional blender. The potatoes need to be whipped at a high enough speed that they break down and emulsify, creating a smooth and creamy cheese-like sauce, with undetectable potato! You’ll need a Vitamix or Blendtec. I’ve made it in a Magic Bullet in a half batch and it also worked well.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and combine until smooth. Your sauce may be hot enough to serve immediately, if you’re in a rush, or heat it up in a small pot to thicken it slightly before pouring over whatever food you want to make cheesier! How about chips, chili, broccoli, or cauliflower for starters.

Vegan Cheese Sauce from Simple Vegan Blog

Ingredients -

2 C                Potatoes (360 g), peeled and diced
1 C                Carrots (135 g), peeled and diced
1/2 C             Water (125 ml)
1/2 C             Nutritional yeast (35 g)
1/3 C             Extra virgin olive oil (70 g)
1 T                 Lemon juice
1 tsp              Salt
1/2 tsp           Garlic powder
1/2 tsp           Onion powder

Instructions -

Boil or steam the potatoes and carrots for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain them and add them to a blender.  Add all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips, crudités or use it to make pizza, lasagna, mac and cheese or any other recipe that calls for cheese. Keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for about 4-5 days. You can also freeze it if you want. I usually transfer the frozen container to the fridge the night before, that way it defrosts by itself. I reheat it in a saucepan and add some water or milk if needed.

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NOTE - after I posted this I was sent a link to a 3rd option on a sight called Oh She Glows that has cashews in it. Worth a try as well.

All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce from Oh She Glows

Ingredients - 

1/4 C             Raw cashews, soaked
1 1/4 C          Yellow or red potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 C              Carrots, peeled and diced
2 to 3 T          Nutritional yeast, to taste
2 T                 Grapeseed oil or refined coconut oil***
2 1/2 T           Water
1 1/2 tsp         Fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp            Fine sea salt, or to taste
1                     Medium garlic clove, peeled (I would press or mince as well)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp  White wine vinegar, to taste
Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Directions -  

Soak the cashews in a bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse. (For a quick-soak method, bring a small pot of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the cashews to the hot water and soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain and rinse.)

Add potatoes and carrots to a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until fork tender. Drain. Alternatively, you can steam the veggies until cooked through.

Add all ingredients except hot sauce to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. (See my tip for a food processor option.) If the mixture is too thick, a splash of water or oil can help it along. Sample the sauce and adjust seasonings as desired. Add Sriracha (or other hot sauce) as preferred, if you’d like to give the cheese a spicy kick! The sauce will keep for up to one week refrigerated in an airtight container.

Tips -

* If your blender has a hard time blending cashews smooth, you may omit them (or try using a tablespoon of raw cashew butter instead!).
* To cut down on cooking time, be sure the potatoes and carrots are diced finely.
* If you don’t have either of these oils on hand, a light-tasting olive oil should do the trick. Be sure not to use virgin coconut oil as it can impart a coconut flavour in the sauce (unless you’re down with that of course!). Refined coconut oil has no flavour.
*If you don’t have a high-speed blender, a heavy-duty food processor will work in a pinch. Note that you may have to process the mixture for several minutes, and keep in mind that if you use cashews they won’t fully break down like they do in a Vitamix, resulting in a slightly more textured sauce.
*Make it nut-free: simply omit the cashews. The sauce won’t be quite as rich, but still tastes great. You can also add an extra tablespoon of nutritional yeast if omitting the cashews.