Magic Vegan Cheese Sauce

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The story continues with my latest (and dare I say greatest!) version of my Vegan Mac & Cheese. In addition to veggies, this simplified and more nutritious version is made with either homemade vegan butter or unflavored coconut oil, sunflower seeds, and garbanzo beans. I designed the recipe without nutritional yeast for those who are allergic or averse, but if you love nooch, feel free to add 1/2 cup or sprinkle some on top!

This sauce is perfect for pouring on pasta, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, or anything your palate desires. Enjoy!

Allison's Magic Vegan Mac & Cheese
By Allison Rivers Samson

Serves 4

8 ounces dry pasta, cooked al dente
1/4 cup vegan butter or unflavored (refined, not virgin) coconut oil
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup cooked garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon mild Dijon mustard


  1. In a large stockpot, cook the pasta according to package, drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over medium heat, add oil, onion, carrots, garbanzo beans, garlic, salt, paprika, and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, sunflower seeds, vinegar, and Dijon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. In a blender, process cooked contents of the sauté pan until completely smooth—this is important. Test for smoothness by removing a spoonful, allowing to cool for a minute, and then rubbing sauce between thumb and forefinger.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the sauce with cooked pasta and serve hot.


  • Unflavored coconut oil, also called “refined coconut oil,” is sold in jars in most health food stores. The most common brand is Spectrum. The “virgin” variety tastes like coconut, and is best for coconut-flavored dishes. Other options are sunflower or safflower oil, as well as a homemade non-dairy butter/margarine or store-bought like Miyoko’s Creamery or Earth Balance. Feel free to use less if you prefer.
  • Raw, unsalted cashews can be used instead of sunflower seeds, but will add a touch sweetness to the flavor.

Jazz It Up!

  • If you love nutritional yeast, add 1/3 cup to the sauce and an additional 2-4 tablespoons water, depending upon your preferred thickness.
  • For nacho cheese sauce, add 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin powder and 1⁄4-1⁄2 teaspoon chili or chipotle powder. Stir in diced jalapeños if you wish to boost the heat quotient. Oh yeah!

© Recipe by Allison Rivers Samson, Wellness Coach, award-winning vegan chef and author of 
Quick + Easy DIY Salad BarThe Dairy-Freedom Cookbook, Comfortably Yum, and Co-Founder of The Dairy Detox.
Video credit: Michelle Cehn


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