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Vegan Cheese Sauce With Broccoli

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Growing up, my favorite thing to eat was steamed broccoli drenched in cheese sauce. 

It was the late 80s – early 90s and money was tight, so it was basically cheese sauce in a bag that was quickly warmed up and plopped onto overly boiled frozen broccoli. It was delicious. 

This vegan cheese sauce recipe pairs perfectly with roasted broccoli, but can be be used with any cooked vegetable – cauliflower, potatoes, zucchini fries, carrots, and brussel sprouts. 

Or, if you’re like me, on rice when I want to like to remind myself that I am an adult and I can eat whatever I want in my judgment-free home. 

If you’re into a creamy, smoky, and robust type of cheese sauce, you’re going to fall in love with this dish. It’s not your basic dairy cheese sauce. Nope, this is plant-based, full of flavor, and pretty dang creamy.

Unlike making a traditional cheese sauce with dairy, this recipe does not call for flour. Everything we’re using is plant-based, healthy, and delicious. 

Your main ingredients in this recipe will be the raw, unsalted cashews, tomato paste, and lemon juice. The rest is kind of optional or may be adjusted according to what you like. 

Vegan Cheese Sauce With Broccoli

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Broccoli and Cheese, Vegan Cheese Sauce


  • 1 cup cashews raw + unsalted
  • 1.5 cups cashew water reserved from boil
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 4 cups water for boiling
  • 1 head fresh broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Roasted Broccoli

  • First, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Meanwhile, cut the head of broccoli into bite-sized florets. 
  • In a large bowl, toss and evenly coat the broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. 
  • Next, arrange florets onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not crowd sheet, leave space between each piece. 
  • Roast for 16-20 minutes until tender and cooked through. Flip halfway through.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

  • First, add water to a pot and set over high heat. Once it starts boiling, add your cashews and cover with a lid. 
  • Boil the cashews for at least 10 minutes to soften.
  • Once the cashews are done boiling, remove cashews from the water and keep the cashew water.
  • In a blender, add cashews, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, tomato paste, garlic powder, fresh lemon juice, vegan butter (optional) and 1.5 cups of the leftover cashew water.
  • Then, blend until smooth.
  • Add more water, depending on how thin you would like your sauce. Adjust salt and seasonings to your liking 


  1. You MUST use unsalted, raw cashews. Roasted and seasoned cashews will negatively affect the texture and flavor of this cheese sauce. It’ll be too nutty, slightly bitter, and flat. 
  2. You will need a high-powered blender in order to achieve a creamy, cheesy texture. Other blenders might leave your cheese sauce chunky. 
  3. You can soak the cashews overnight, rather than boiling. But if you’re pressed for time, boiling works fine. 
  4. If you want your cheese sauce creamier with a buttery note, feel free to use vegan butter. Personally, I love the Melt brand. 
  5. For the roasted broccoli, use a fresh head for extra crispiness and flavor. 
  6. Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet for the roasted broccoli and consider using parchment paper. 
  7. If you’re rinsing your broccoli prior to cooking, make sure it’s very dry. Wet broccoli will yield soggy results.
  8. You can use frozen broccoli if you like, but because of its higher water content, it won’t crisp up as nicely as raw, fresh broccoli.

Bowl of homemade vegan cheese made from raw cashews with a side of crackers
Bowl of roasted broccoli topped with homemade vegan cheese sauce made with raw cashews

Want To Use That Cheese Sauce For Something Else? Check These Recipes Out: 

Zucchini Fries 

Crispy baked seasoned zucchini fries

Potato Wedges 

Oil-free roasted potato wedges

Tofu Chicken 

Soft tacos topped with tofu vegan chicken and a hot sauce

Tofu Scramble 

Scrambled tofu topped with onion, kale, and red kidney beans with a side of soft tacos

Cauliflower Wings

A plate of roasted rainbow cauliflower

While you’re here, check out our most popular recipes on the website: 

How To Make Tofu Taste Like Chicken 

Vegan Mac & Cheese 

Mushroom Bacon 

Did you try out this Vegan Cheese Sauce With Broccoli Recipe?

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