This recipe came to be while perfecting our vegan moussaka (recipe coming soon!). The need for a thick layer of creamy, rich bechamel led to much experimentation. We tried classic rouxs, soaked cashews, and even mashed potatoes as a base.
But the clear winner emerged when we blended soaked cashews with the magic of roasted garlic — one whole head! The combination of roasted garlic with creamy cashews marries perfectly with nutritional yeast and salt for a seriously dreamy bechamel sauce. Plus, just 5 simple ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done.
What is Bechamel?
Bechamel is a creamy white sauce that’s traditionally made with butter, flour, and milk, and it’s often used as a base to make other sauces. Its origin is debated, but it seems to have been invented in either Italy or France between the 16th and 17th centuries.
Our plant-based version is not traditional, but is equally creamy, delicious, and versatile!
How to Make Vegan Bechamel Sauce
Cashews are the creamy, dairy-free base for this recipe. A whole head of garlic (yes, you read that right!) is roasted until it’s perfectly caramelized. Roasting garlic allows it to contribute a lot of flavor without being too intense since roasting mellows the flavor and even adds a bit of sweetness. And adding nutritional yeast and sea salt contributes a nice salty-cheesy element.
The mixture is blended until it’s silky smooth for a rich, creamy, flavor-packed sauce!
We hope you LOVE this vegan bechamel sauce! It’s:
& Quick & easy!
It’s perfect for topping moussaka (recipe coming soon!), using as a base for vegan cheese sauces (such as mac ‘n’ cheese), and more!
More Vegan “Cheese” Recipes
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Servings 10 (2-Tbsp servings)
- 1 head garlic, average size
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup water
Heat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Slice off the very top of the head of garlic and set on a piece of foil. Drizzle the top with oil and wrap to conceal. Then roast directly on a center oven rack for ~50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cloves are tender, fragrant, and light golden brown.
Soak cashews in very hot water (uncovered) for at least 30 minutes.
Drain your soaked cashews and add to a small blender along with roasted garlic (cool slightly then squeeze up from the bottom toward the top to remove cloves), olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt, and water. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste or nutritional yeast for cheesiness. The roasted garlic should add a nice caramelized, garlicky sweetness to the sauce, but if you prefer a more garlicky punch, you could throw in 1-2 raw garlic cloves and blend. Set aside.
Best when fresh. Ideal for adding to dishes like moussaka, as a mac ‘n’ cheese base, in vegetable bakes, and more. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. When reheating, add more water or plain dairy-free milk as needed to thin.
*Prep time includes soaking cashews.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
Serving: 1 serving Calories: 106 Carbohydrates: 5 g Protein: 2.9 g Fat: 8.9 g Saturated Fat: 1.4 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.36 g Monounsaturated Fat: 5.39 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 61 mg Potassium: 111 mg Fiber: 0.7 g Sugar: 0.8 g Vitamin A: 0 IU Vitamin C: 0.81 mg Calcium: 9.88 mg Iron: 0.96 mg