Melty, gooey, stretchy my Vegan Melty Cheddar Cheese Sauce is perfect for quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more! Nut-free, gluten-free, AND oil-free! The best part is it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and keeps well in the fridge, too.
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Hey Internet, I thought it was about darn time that I gave you a new cheese recipe! My nut-free, oil-free, gluten-free cheeses are some of the most popular recipes on my site.
Check out the bottom of this blog post for more cheese recipes from me. I am creating new cheese recipes all the time, so to make sure you never miss one, sign up for our newsletter and get a free e-book with exclusive recipes that I make all the time.
But one trick is making vegan cheese nut-free. I don't have any nut allergies, but I started avoiding nuts in my recipes just to make things a little lower fat and cheaper.
Then I noticed how many of you were excited that I was making nut-free recipes, telling me it is hard to also have nut allergies as a vegan. So my first recipe with vegan cheese was my vegan mozzarella and I made it from tofu instead of cashews.
Just as delicious, no compromise on texture, and a heck of a lot healthier and cheaper. Oh, yes.
So now I am bringing you a melty, cheddar-y, gooey cheese that is much like my mozzarella, but cheddar flavored!
This cheese has been fun to experiment with--I've made quesadillas, pasta, grilled cheese, and more!
Want to learn how to make this super easy vegan cheese? Read on.
What Do I Need to Make the Vegan Melty Cheddar Cheese Sauce?
Well, you need tofu. We've already talked about that.
I use firm tofu for most of my cheese recipes. It has just the right texture when blended. Medium should work as well, just lightly press out some of the water.
Extra firm might be too much and soft or silken tofu might not hold. I haven't tested them. If you test them, let me know in the comments below!
To make it super cheesy, you'll need nutritional yeast, a substance that is a deactivated yeast from a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It's totally safe to eat and has a nice cheesy, nutty flavor.
If you've ever tried it by itself you may not like it. Give it a try in this recipe.
The other ingredients help mute any weirdness and just enable the nutritional yeast, or affectionately termed nooch by vegans, to work its cheesy magic.
To make the cheese stretchy, we're using a little substance called tapioca starch. Tapioca actually comes from the cassava root plant.
If you see tapioca flour, that's the same thing and both will work. However, if you see cassava flour, that may be a different product. Don't use that.
If you've never had a cassava, you should try one! Kind of like a potato!
How Should it Taste?
Cheese is not cheese without a little tang and a little salt. I used some fresh squeezed lemon (once you go fresh lemon, you never go back to bottled, hah) and a little pink Himalayan salt.
You can use any salt you like, I just like the flavor of that salt. It's not as salty as table salt… if that makes sense.
Also related to "tang," I used some apple cider vinegar. I like the two slightly different flavor profiles the mixture gives.
Lemon is more light, citrus-y and fresh, while apple cider vinegar is lightly sweet and has a bit of a bite. You don't have to use both, but I do recommend it.
Other spices that give this a cheddar-y flavor include smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric.
The turmeric is mostly for color, but I do think it adds something to the flavor that I really like. If you're not a fan of turmeric you can reduce or omit it.
Finally to get the right consistency, you'll need about 1 cup of water.
How to Make Vegan Cheddar Cheese Sauce
It's so easy it almost needs no explanation, but let's talk just a little bit about it anyway.
To start, you're going to want to drain all the excess water out of your tofu, but for firm tofu you do not need to press it. If you're using medium tofu, I'd use a clean kitchen towel (or a paper towel) to lightly press some of the water out of the block with just your hands for a few minutes.
Break it into a few chunks and add it to your blender or food processor. Unlike cashews, you do NOT need a high powered blender for this (depending on your blender, you may or may not need to stop and scrape down the sides partway through).
Add everything else to the blender: nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, lemon, vinegar, spices, and water. Blend until smooth--it will resemble a cake batter consistency.
Cooking the Sauce into Cheeze
At this point, please taste it and adjust the spices/acid if needed.
Now pour it into a small saucepan and heat it over medium high heat on your stove. As it begins to heat up, you'll want to stir it constantly.
The cheese will be a relatively thin sauce at first, then will start to curdle and clump–this is normal. After a few minutes it will come together as a gooey, stretchy, melty cheese that can be used in any way you like.
For me, the cooking process for the cheese has never taken more than 4 minutes (unless I'm using my crappy hot plate, lol).
And that's it! Add your cheese to whatever!
Use it to make a grilled cheese, throw it onto a pizza or some pasta, spread it on some crackers, whatever you like.
It can be further baked or broiled and the top will turn a lovely golden brown color and crisp up just like dairy cheese.
Finally, you can store it in the fridge and reheat it again a few days later and it will retain its texture. To reheat it, I recommend the stove for optimal consistency, but the microwave has worked for me, too. If needed, add a little nondairy milk to thin it out, but I haven't run into any issues.
I promised some other cheese recipes, didn't I?
Well, here's my fave:
Vegan Mozzarella: It's basically the same deal as this, but with slightly different ingredients
There's also this:
Vegan Block Cheddar: This is the same flavor profile as this recipe, but instead of tapioca it uses agar powder to make a firmer cheese that can be shredded or sliced.
It is just as easy as this, but since it takes a few hours to set in the fridge, it requires a bit of advance preparation.
I am loving making vegan cheeses! I even made a whole list of my favorite nut-free vegan cheese recipes!
And if you're looking for more tofu dishes, check out this post I made with all my best tofu recipes.
I hope you love my Vegan Melty Cheddar Cheese Sauce!
Let me know in the comments below if you make it, tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!
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Vegan Melty Cheddar Cheese Sauce
- Total Time: 8 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Melty, gooey, stretchy cheddar cheese sauce perfect for quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more! Nut-free, gluten-free, AND oil-free! The best part is it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and keeps well in the fridge, too.
Vegan, Oil-free, Nut-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free
- 1 16-ounce block firm tofu (about 396 grams), drained (see note 1)
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 4 tbsp tapioca starch or tapioca flour (see note 2)
- Juice of 1 medium lemon
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp each turmeric, garlic powder, & onion powder
- ¾ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender or food processor. Taste and adjust if needed.
- Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
- The cheese will be a relatively thin sauce at first, then will start to curdle and clump–this is normal. After a few minutes it will come together as a gooey, stretchy, melty cheese that can be used in any way you like.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat it, I recommend the stove for optimal consistency, but the microwave has worked for me, too. If needed, add a little nondairy milk to thin it out, but I haven't run into any issues.
- Note 1: I use firm tofu for this. Medium should work as well, just lightly press out some of the water. Extra firm might be too much and soft or silken tofu might not hold. I haven't tested them. If you test them, let me know in the comments below!
- Note 2: Tapioca starch or flour are the same thing. However, if you see cassava flour, that may be a different product. Don't use that.
- Prep Time: 4 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 minutes
- Category: Cheese, Ingredient
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Vegan, Oil-free, Nut-free, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, vegan cheese
Hi, this look great! I would like to know if it could work using extra firm silken tofu. Thanks!
Hi Annie, thanks for your comment. I think extra firm silken tofu would work. Maybe start out with less water when blending, and add more if needed. Hope it turns out great!
Excited to try this recipe. I think the nutritional info may be incorrect for the sodium, 1/2 tsp of salt has about 1150mg sodium.
Thanks for pointing that out! It looks like I didn't realize my plugin missed that. I added that in and now it says about 300, since the recipe makes about 8 portions (about 1/4 cup each). I hope you like it, and thanks again for letting me know! <3 Liz
I made it using soft tofu and it turned out great. Can't wait to use it in many of my recipes. Thanks for posting this great recipe.
So glad it turned out well for you! <3
This is what I've been waiting for! Stretchy "cheese" without nuts! Beautiful!
The recipe was nice and easy. It sure smelled great but it had a strong lemon flavour (I think the lemon I used was larger than medium!) I used firm silken tofu and it worked out fine (just added less water). I'll use this again, thanks for posting :)
Is the tofu supposed to be drained? I followed the instructions and it came out very runny.
Yes. What type of tofu did you use? Did you do it stovetop? And did you use tapioca or something else?
Made this today using silken tofu. I added less than half cup of water n just used a visual gauge for cake batter consistency. This is a winner! Made mac and cheese with this and the kids loved it (even my youngest who rejected the mac n cheese made with another vegan cheese recipe asked for more). Thanks! Can't wait to try some of your other recipes!
This looks so good
Can you tell us the measurement of lemon juice, since they vary so much in size and juice? I’ve ruined too many recipes assuming lemons have “standard” sizes! Can’t wait to make this.
I have made this recipe a few times now, and I love it!!! Thanks so much for sharing. On top of tasting good, it's made from ingredients that are high in protein, unlike other vegan cheeses you may find in the store. And, unlike most of the vegan cheeses you may find in the store, this has ZERO SATURATED FAT. Saturated fat is the main thing to avoid in animal products, but sadly, many of the store-bought vegan cheeses have quite a lot of it. Don't get me wrong, I buy and eat store-bought vegan cheese anyway, but it's great to have a recipe like this, which is truly guilt-free (nutrition wise). Hurray! We talk about this sauce pretty frequently at Let's Go Vegan-ish. It's such a good recipe. We even have a name for it ... TDCS ... THAT DAMN CHEESE SAUCE! Please say it in your grouchiest grump old man voice, for full effect!
Mary (from LLL)
Loved this cheese sauce! I'm not a huge fan of cheese sauces made with potato or cashews, they're just never smooth enough or have that texture that hits the right way, but this one 100% did. I used silken tofu and just reduced the water, and it turned out perfectly! I did swap the vinegar for a tablespoon of brine from a jar of pickled jalapenos, and it was super delicious! (We were making the sauce to serve with nachos so it just felt right.) It had that perfect creamy texture that you want for nacho cheese! Definitely keeping this in the rotation.
PS. Miss you!!
This was delicious! I used soft silken tofu and it turned out beautifully, plus it was quick and easy. Thanks for the nut free alternative! I will definitely be making this again.