Learn how to make vegan cashew cheese sauce easily at home with just a few ingredients and enjoy it guilt-free. This vegan cashew dip recipe is very versatile, and you can use it in many ways - as a dip, as pasta sauce, and top it over nachos or tacos.
You can even use this as a salad dressing. Make this dairy-free cheese sauce once, even if you are not dairy-free, and you will make it often.
Ingredients for Cashew Cheese Sauce
- Cashews: Raw cashews are the base of this recipe, and cashews give a creamy texture to the sauce. Though soaking cashews is optional, soaking the cashews for 3 to 4 hours will make the cheese sauce creamy. And if you do not have a high-speed blender, soaking is a must.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice provides that tanginess to the sauce. And you can use apple cider vinegar to make this vegan cashew cheese sauce. I prefer apple cider vinegar as it will ferment the sauce and give a unique taste to the cashew sauce. But apple cider vinegar will impart its own flavor, and some people may not like it. So, in that case, use lime or lemon juice.
- Nutritional yeast: As we make vegan cheese dip, nutritional yeast will give that cheesy flavor to the dish. This is optional, and the taste will vary if you omit it.
- Water: I used water in this recipe, but you can use plant-based milk. Almond milk works best and will not add almond flavor to the sauce.
- Spices: Use freshly ground black pepper and salt for plain cheese sauce. To make it spicier, you can use red chili flakes, smoked paprika powder, or red chili powder. Fresh jalapeno also goes well in this sauce recipe.
How to make Cashew Dip
Soak the Cashews
In my experience, soaking the cashews for a couple of hours works well. But if you plan to soak them for more than 4 hours, keeping them in the refrigerator is a good idea.
Though it is optional, I highly recommend soaking the cashews as it will yield a creamy sauce. Soaking is a must if you do not have a high-speed blender.
Discard the water from soaked cashews and rinse them once.
Blend the ingredients
Take a blender jar and add rinsed cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, red chili flakes(if using), ground black pepper, lemon juice, and water.
Blend these ingredients into a smooth sauce. Add water little by little while grinding the ingredients.
Store or serve the sauce
Once you have blended the sauce perfectly, empty it from the blender jar and transfer it to a glass container. I always store it in the refrigerator, where it stays nice and fresh.
Empty the sauce from the blender jar and store it in the glass container. Refrigerate the creamy vegan cashew sauce and use it within five days. Use this creamy cashew sauce within five days.
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Tips, Substitutions & Variations
- If you are not soaking cashews, you might need additional water to grind the sauce into a smooth paste.
- To quickly soak the cashews, soak them in boiling water for about 30 minutes or so.
- You can even use a food processor to make this cashew cream sauce. But make sure to soak the cashews.
- This recipe uses black pepper and salt to flavor the sauce. To flavor the sauce, you can use dried herbs like oregano, thyme, and parsley.
- You can even use fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, basil, or parsley to flavor this cheese sauce.
- I haven't used garlic to make this sauce. But you use one or two pods of fresh garlic or ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder while making this dip. You can even use ¼ teaspoon of onion powder.
We need to refrigerate this cashew cheese sauce, which stays good in the fridge for 5 to 6 days. Store the sauce in airtight containers, and glass jars work best.
You can freeze the sauce for up to six months. However, I prefer to freeze the sauce in portion sizes to thaw the required amount and use it off.
Different ways to serve the sauce
I love the versatility of this sauce and will serve it in many ways. Some of the exciting ways to serve this vegan cheese sauce are
- Pasta: Boil your favorite pasta and stir in this cashew sauce. Creamy and delicious vegan pasta is ready to enjoy. Add some sautéed vegetables or your favorite vegan protein for extra flavor. Use gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free and dairy-free meal.
- Sandwiches and Wraps: This cashew sauce makes the best sandwich spread. Make an open sandwich or grill it, the addition of this cheese sauce will level up your sandwich for sure.
- Burritos or Tacos: Do you love burrito bowls? Thin out this cashew sauce and drizzle it over the burrito bowl, or add it to your tacos.
- Dip: This cashew sauce tastes great with raw veggies or baked potatoes.
- Lasagna: You can use this sauce to make vegan lasagna. Add this cashew sauce in between pasta layers and bake it.
- Salads: Thin it out slightly with water and use it as a salad dressing or a drizzle over your favorite salad.
- As garnishing: Add it as a garnish to soups or stews for a velvety finish. I add this sauce to even vegetarian curries, making the curry creamy.
Soaking is optional, but it will yield creamy cheese sauce.
Typically, soaking for 2-4 hours is sufficient. If you plan to soak them longer, refrigerate them to prevent spoilage.
Raw cashews are best for a neutral flavor, but you can use roasted cashews if you prefer a slightly roasted taste in your sauce.
Yes, we can skip nutritional yeast, and still, this cashew sauce tastes amazing.
You can use sunflower seeds as a cashew substitute, but the taste of the sauce will be different.
You will like my other dip and sauce recipes as you are here.
Cashew Cheese Sauce (Vegan Cashew Dip)
- 1 cup cashews preferably raw
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 4 tablespoon Water
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Soak the cashews for a couple of hours.
- Discard the water from soaked cashews and rinse them well.
- Take a blender or Nutri Bullet jar and add cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, red chili flakes(if using), ground black pepper, lemon juice, and water.
- Blend everything into a smooth sauce. Add water little by little.
- Empty the sauce from the blender jar and store it in the glass container. Refrigerate the creamy vegan cashew sauce and use it within five days.