Vegan Bechamel Sauce

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Pouring vegan bechamel sauce into a beaker

This recipe came to be while perfecting our vegan moussaka. 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.

Cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt, olive oil, and garlic

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!

Close up shot of a head of roasted garlic

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!

Blender of cashews, roasted garlic, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and sea salt

We hope you LOVE this vegan bechamel sauce! It’s:

Cheesy
Garlicky
Rich
Savory
Comforting
& Quick & easy!

It’s perfect for topping moussaka, using as a base for vegan cheese sauces (such as mac ‘n’ cheese), and more!

Roasted garlic, cashews, nutritional yeast, and homemade vegan bechamel sauce

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!

Pouring cashew bechamel sauce into a measuring glass

Vegan Bechamel Sauce

Rich, vegan bechamel sauce made with soaked cashews and roasted garlic! Just 5 ingredients and simple methods required. Perfect for moussaka, mac ‘n’ cheese, and more!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Roasted garlic next to a spoon and jar of creamy vegan bechamel sauce
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 10 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Sauce
Cuisine French-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days

Ingredients

ROASTED GARLIC

  • 1 head garlic, average size
  • 1 tsp olive oil

BECHAMEL

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

*Prep time includes soaking cashews.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 10 servings)

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

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Reader Interactions

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  1. Maria says

    I made this bechamel sauce since it was gluten free and it is, in my humble opinion, better than any authentic bechamel sauce I’ve ever had!
    I’ve baked garlic in this manner before but never thought it would give this sauce such nice depth of flavor. I did add a small sprinkling of grated nutmeg which also went very well.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. Leilah Martin says

    First time I’m trying out a vegan bechemel sauce and wow, okay, never doing it any other way again! LOVE 🤩 eating it directly out of the blender as I type this !

  3. Kinnear says

    I have made this sauce so many times that I felt compelled to finally leave a review. I use it for lasagna, pizza, and spaghetti – and my children happily eat it with a spoon. It is SO creamy and decadent while also being incredibly simple to make. I usually add a clove or 2 or raw garlic and increase the nutritional yeast. Thank you Dana for this recipe and so many more – MB is my go-to for so, so many recipes.

  4. Annemarie says

    Made the moussaka today, which was good. But this sauce was beyond words. So delicious! Thank you very much. Will make again!

  5. Amy says

    This is the BEST vegan bechamel ever. So simple and delicious. I put it on everything! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

  6. Annette says

    Great recipe! I used this as a filling in galettes de sarasin with asparagus and sautéed onions and spinach. I made it in advance and froze it. The texture was still just right when it thawed.

  7. Tari says

    This sauce is so delicious.
    I’m so eager to get ar it, I sacrifice my finger tips as I squeeze still-hot roasted garlic into the blender. Whirr it up and serve it over sauteed zucchini noodles. Yum.
    Thanks, Dana. I’ve been a fan for years. Many of my staple recipes are from you.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review, Tari! LOVE the zucchini noodles idea. xo

  8. Carrie Flynn says

    Made this sauce twice now and it’s so delicious! First time, we put it on top of a red sauced pasta and baked it. Love the contrast of red and white and it was amazing! Very rich and satisfying, actually more so than a regular bechamel. Second time we had it with a fettuccine with grilled chicken and we thinned it a bit with broth to toss with the pasta and it was delicious! This will definitely satisfy your craving for a rich white sauce for sure! I added more nutritional yeast and more roasted garlic to taste. This will be a staple in our fridge! Thank you Dana for your incredible recipes!!!

      • Angelica Aceves says

        I’ve been looking for a recipe like this ever since we went to a restaurant and tried kelp noodles with Bechamel sauce. Only have one question? Is the garlic what makes this recipe be what it is or can I leave it out and still get a good taste? I can’t wait to try it!!

        • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Angelica, the garlic does add a lot of depth, but it should still be tasty without it. It probably just won’t have that “WOW” factor! We’d love to hear how it tastes with the kelp noodles =)

  9. Sandra says

    Ummm… what is this sorcery?! I made this bechamel for your mousaka recipe (still in the oven!) following your recipe to a T, and I literally found myself licking out the leftovers from my Vitamix. This is amazing and revolutionary. Better than any traditional bechamel, and with a healthy twist! Amazing. Thank you so much for this!

  10. June says

    It looks great. Do you think you can leave out the olive oil in the blender portion? I’m wondering if that would work.

  11. Steph Peterson says

    I know this is a long shot… but is there any suggestions for a tree nut allergy? Your recipes with soaked cashews always look so good, but I can never try them:(
    Thanks for all your great vegan recipes!

  12. connie says

    Could you please tell me what would be suggested to replace the
    garlic? Both myself and my husband are garlic intolerant but I would
    love to try this sauce and I know it needs some flavor.

    • Nicole says

      Garlic infused olive oil is a great substitute! The carbohydrates in garlic that cause discomfort are leached out in the oil infusion process. So you get all the flavour but none of the side-effects! If you can’t find any in store than I’m sure theres a way to infuse it at home. And a little bit of oil goes a long way in terms of flavour

      • Kat - the other 1 says

        Thanks, but it’s not discomfort, it’s an allergy. Garlic infused oil is still garlic. I don’t have to eat it to start reacting, smelling it or touching any will both cause bad reactions.

        Shallots are so closely related to garlic I’m hesitant to try them.
        Maybe I can try the leek you suggested. Now I just need something more affordable than cashews, lol.

  13. Wenderella says

    I would be eating more vegan recipes like this if there were a substitute for cashews. I’m allergic to cashews. Nothing else, just cashews. Sometimes I substitute sunflower seeds for pine nuts in pesto, but they wouldn’t sub well for cashews in recipes like this bechamel. I’d be interested in alternatives.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Wenderella! I’d say in this recipe it’s tough to sub the cashews as they are uniquely neutral in flavor and creamy. But a mix of soaked raw cashews and hemp seeds may work! Let us know if you try.

    • Samantha Dailly says

      You should try blanched macadamias; that might work if you have an allergy to cashews. I’ve found that macadamias can mimic the creaminess of cashews.

      • Wenderella says

        This is a fabulous suggestion. I don’t know why I never thought od Macadamia before now. Genius. Thank you 😊👍

  14. Kat - the other 1 says

    This makes me so sad.
    I’m severely allergic to garlic.
    I’ve been trying to make a nice tasting gluten and dairy free version of this for years. The search continues.

  15. Melissa says

    Is adding the oil absolutely necessary? I am trying to go without added oil and wondering if the fat in the nuts is enough?

  16. Kungaa says

    I love your site; I have a vegetarian/vegan moussaka vegan recipe I have had for years- if the vegan crumbles were high in sodium I would use Quorn ones- low sodium. BUT to make it vegan the bechamel sauce was horrible! Now I wii update my recipe when you post

      • VICKY PERALTA says

        I made it to go on top of your easy vegan lasagna and it was really good! (besides the fact I put too much salt, but thats on me lol) lots of cashews in our meal! :D
        Oh and maybe if I had a better blender it would come out smoother!