Dairy Free Cashew Cheese Sauce

This Dairy Free Cashew Cheese Sauce is delicious.  Two weeks ago we took the kids to the zoo.  Afterward, we decided to try out a vegan restaurant here in Dallas called The Spiral Diner.  The food was so good!

My husband got a vegan nacho plate and the cheese sauce was made from cashews.  He liked it so much he decided to try to create his own cashew cheese sauce and after a few tries it worked out pretty good.

This dairy free cashew cheese sauce is really quite a good replica. We never would have thought to make a cashew cheese sauce.

dairy free cashew cheese sauce

A lot of vegan cheeses are soy based, but we wanted to do something different since a lot of people are avoiding soy these days.  The cashews gave it a nice creamy feel.

This would not only be a good sauce to eat with nachos, but it makes a great base for a dairy free mac and cheese.

With so many kids having dairy allergies these days, it’s nice to have a soy free cheese option.  To give this a cheesy flavor, we used nutritional yeast.  Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein, fiber and vitamin B12.


Here is a quick little video of my husband and daughter making this. For more videos, you can subscribe to my You Tube Channel.


Dairy Free Cashew Cheese Sauce

Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

Prep Time 10 min Serves 2 cups     adjust servings


  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight and drained)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt to taste


  1. Soak the cashews in water overnight.
  2. The next day, drain and rinse them.
  3. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Recipe Notes

You can store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Should keep for a few weeks. You may even be able to freeze it.

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94 thoughts to “Dairy Free Cashew Cheese Sauce”

  1. HI, I was wondering I'm not a fan of nutritional yeast. It has a distinct flavor I can always pick up on in a recipe. Any idea's or is there diff. brands you prefer?
    1. People either love it or hate it. I get mine at Sprout's out of the bulk bins. I am not sure what you would use as a replacement.
  2. My favorite comfort food is mac and cheese. I can no longer have dairy and was trying to think of an alternative. Thanks for posting this and thanks for your husband and his experiment to come up with the perfect cheese sauce. I cannot wait to make this!
    1. My husband made mac and cheese with it. We also made our own baked corn chips and dipped those in as well. My daughter dipped tater tots in it. The possibilities are endless.
  3. I would if you could add ground up pistachios to this instead of the nutritional yeast. I always feel like roasted pistachios have a cheesy flavor.
  4. Hi Melissa! I just put my cashews in the fridge to soak -- just wish I didn't have to wait to try this recipe! I'm sure since you approved it (cool that your hubby made it up!), it will be awesome! I haven't had the best luck with the few nutr. yeast recipes I've tried, though the yeast works awesome in my easy eggplant parm! I have a post about nutritional yeast, though I think you hit on all the major highlights, that I'll share. It might give some more ideas of how to use your sauce! http://fresh-you.blogspot.com/2012/05/savory-cheese-substitute-dairy-and-soy.html Thank you! Colleen :)
  5. hmm i'm thinking of trying this for my daughter who has soy/dairy/coconut intolerances...suspected anyways....she will not eat noodles on her own but wonder if she would like this "mac and cheese". does the yeast really taste like cheese?
  6. I made this...tasted awesome! But it was really think & not pourable. Now I don't have a high powered blender so do you think that is the culprit & should I just add more water, you think. Don't want to water down the flavor but could see how pourable and boozy might be easier to prepare enchiladas & fit the texture of the nacho type chews. :0) Would love to know your thoughts...Thanks!
    1. Glad you like the flavor. When we make it here, it's decently pourable. We used a Vitamix. I think adding a small amount more water should be okay. Just add it slowly, a little at a time.
    2. Glad you like the flavor. When we make it here, it's decently pourable. We used a Vitamix. I think adding a small amount more water should be okay. Just add it slowly, a little at a time.
  7. Just wonder if you have ever done this only soaking the cashews for maybe 4-5 hours instead of overnight? What is the purpose of soaking? I planned to make this to go w the enchiladas tonight.. but completely forgot to soak them last night!
  8. What's up with Nutritional Yeast? That stuff funks up every recipe I've put it into. I've thrown away more food after adding that stuff. What is the purpose?
    1. Really? People love it or hate it. I guess you are one of those that don't care for it. It adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to the sauce. You may be able to omit it and add other spices instead? I'm not sure what though.
    1. Oops. We changed the recipe and no longer use the turmeric. I have deleted that sentence. We changed the recipe, because the turmeric just didn't seem right in this.
    1. A serving would be about 2 tablespoons. Not sure the calorie count, but it may be close to what 2 tablespoons cashew butter is.
  9. Just wanted to say that I also live in DFW (Richardson) and have been following your blog for the past few months, as I've moved to a more vegetarian/vegan diet. Your recipes have been priceless. I too have been to Spiral Diner and fell in love with that cheese sauce... glad to see your crack at it. Can't wait to try it at home. Thanks for this recipe and your blog. PLEASE keep up the good work!
  10. I'm so excited to try this!! I have a big bag of nutritional yeast in the fridge that I use exclusively to make the Glory Bowl dressing from Whitewater Cooks. (LOVE that dressing, it's a staple in our vegetarian house). I lean toward a vegan diet but cheese is one thing I have a hard time giving up (even though I'm lactose intolerant...this should be a no-brainer right!?) I'm really glad I came across your blog. It's harder than you'd think to find clean recipes that are also vegetarian/vegan. Definitely pinning pretty much your whole site, haha.

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