Dairy-Free Roasted Cauliflower “Cheese” Sauce

After posting my Vegan Cauliflower Nachos last week, several readers asked if there was a way to make a dairy-free cheese sauce without nuts, and possibly with cauliflower instead. Since I’ve already made a Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce, I knew a creamy sauce was possible using cauliflower, but I figured I should officially try my hand at making a dairy-free cauliflower “cheese” sauce once and for all.

cauliflower-cheese-sauce-recipe

This dairy-free cauliflower cheese sauce is just about as healthy as it gets. It’s almost entirely vegetable-based and is lower in fat and calories than its cashew-based counterpart. It’s perfect for those who need to follow a nut-free, dairy-free, or low-fat diet.

Will it fool anyone into thinking they’re eating real cheese dip? Probably not.

If you want a truly creamy, fake-out queso, make my cashew queso because THAT recipe will fool people. This recipe is for those of us who want something that isn’t as nut-heavy, possibly because you want to eat it more often, or because you want something that is properly combined over pasta, or because you have special dietary needs. If you fall into one of those categories, this is the sauce for you. It’s healthy, creamy, and totally guilt-free.

Though it does take a bit of time to roast the cauliflower for this sauce, you can be busy doing other things while it cooks. (Bonus points if you use that time to prep some salad dressings or lunch bowls for the week!) Once the cauliflower is done, you simply blend it up with a handful of ingredients, and then your sauce is ready to go. It makes a great topping over roasted vegetables, baked french fries, vegan nachos, and pasta. The possibilities are endless, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

best-cauliflower-cheese-sauceDairy-Free Cauliflower Cheese Sauce (Vegan & Paleo)
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:
1 pound cauliflower
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cups water, or as needed to thin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves in the olive oil and arrange them into a single layer. Roast until fork-tender and golden, about 30 minutes.

cauliflower-sauce

Transfer the roasted cauliflower and garlic to a blender, and add in the water, salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Blend until very smooth. Adjust any seasoning to your taste, and then serve warm over your favorite vegetables, nachos, or baked fries.

vegan-cheesy-broccoli

4.72 from 7 votes
Print
Dairy-Free Cauliflower "Cheese" Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
A creamy dairy-free and nut-free "cheese" sauce. Vegan and paleo-friendly.
Course: Snack
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 80 kcal
Author: Detoxinista.com
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cauliflower
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups water , or as needed to thin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves in the olive oil and arrange them into a single layer. Roast until fork-tender and golden, about 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the roasted cauliflower and garlic to a blender, and add in the water, salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Blend until very smooth. Adjust any seasoning to your taste, and then serve warm over your favorite vegetables, nachos, or baked fries.

Note: Feel free to try other methods of baking the cauliflower, such as steaming or boiling. I roasted the cauliflower because I love the flavor of roasted cauliflower and it’s an easy, hands-off approach to cooking it. If you make other substitutions to this recipe, please leave a comment below letting us all know how it worked for you.

Reader Feedback: What’s your go-to vegetable topper? Other than a good cheese sauce, I love to use this Creamy Cucumber Tahini Dressing over everything, too.

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

25 thoughts on “Dairy-Free Roasted Cauliflower “Cheese” Sauce

        1. Suze

          I have the same issue Jeanine (yeast allergy). I would love to know how to make this without nutritional yeast. Thanks in advance.

          Reply
        2. Louise

          I haven’t made this yet but reading your question two thoughts came to me ( and I’m just a simple person who cooks as much as I can). One is that when cheese is craved it’s usually either salt or fats that our body wants. That doesn’t give the cheese flavor but I use this rule when feeling like something could use some cheese (ie. add a good olive oil or gomasio or Bragg’s or coconut aminos). My other thought is to skip the cheese idea and, depending on what you are using it for make it a curry sauce, or add Mexican herbs for nachos. Don’t know – just thought I’d share.

          Reply
        3. Janelietz

          Golden Miso Paste (or other mild tasting version such as a Miso made from Garbonzo beans) could be a good substitute. Miso is a fermented food though, so not sure a person who can’t have yeast could have?

          Reply
        4. Megan Gilmore Post author

          Acid + fat + salt are usually essential for a “cheesy” flavor. I reduced the fat in this recipe, which will already make this sauce less cheese-like than my version made with cashews, but I think it would still be tasty without the yeast– just more of a salty creamy garlic sauce, rather than a cheese sauce. Perhaps something else that is fermented would help add a cheese flavor? I think a reader below mentioned using miso. I think a lot of experimenting will be in order!

          Reply
  1. Sherry

    Jeanine,

    I can’t have yeast either but my naturopath said nutritional yeast is different and Ok. You should check on that.

    Reply
  2. Maureen

    As far as I know nutritional yeast is nothing like other yeast. It does not contribute to candida or anything else so check it out in more detail for exactly why you are not able to have normal yeast and you might be surprised that you can have nooch :).

    Reply
  3. Dani

    I had such high hopes for this! It was nothing like depicted in the pictures and did not at all taste like cheese … tasted like roasted cauliflower. But I am not deterred! I will try again and make it work!

    Reply
    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as we did. I hope you’ll be able to experiment with the ingredients more and come up with a combination that you like better!

      Reply
  4. Erica

    Just made this last night!! So. Good. Thanks for sharing!
    It was thicker, but we loved it topping gluten free pasta. Next time –zoodles.

    Reply
    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      Yay! Glad you enjoyed it! You can definitely thin it more with water if you like, but I think the thicker version works great for pasta– especially with zoodles, since they can be watery on their own. 😉

      Reply
  5. Teresa

    I couldn’t get past the cauliflower flavor in this to use it as a cheese sauce, so I knew my family wouldn’t either. Maybe I needed to continue working with the other ingredients more. In any case, I do see the version I ended up with working out as a tasty cheezy cauliflower soup in my house. Thanks for yet another fun twist on veggies, Megan! 😊

    Reply
  6. Tracy

    I was highly pessimistic about this actually turning out creamy like your photo or tasting good for that matter. What a pleasant surprise, I made it tonight and it was delicious! Super creamy, great flavor and easy. I made black bean patty’s, added roasted sweet potato, arugula, avocado and a dollop of cauli-cheese. I followed the recipe exactly except for maybe a little more garlic. These were fantastic. I’ll be making these again for sure. There in plenty left over for “nachos” tomorrow… going to look for that recipe next. Thanks Megan

    Reply

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