Vegan Bechamel Without Butter and Flour (White Sauce)

Vegan Bechamel

This 4-ingredient recipe for vegan bechamel sauce is made without butter and flour, and it's a creamy, indulgent base for many dishes, such as pasta recipes.

Type: sauce

Cuisine: French

Keywords: bechamel, white sauce, bechamel sauce,

Recipe Yield: 4

Calories: 1080

Preparation Time: 5

Cooking Time: 10

Total Time: 15

Recipe Video Name: Vegan Bechamel

Recipe Video Description: This 4-ingredient recipe for vegan bechamel sauce is made without butter and flour, and it's a creamy, indulgent base for many dishes, such as pasta recipes.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (130 gr) raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ to 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) soy milk
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • optional: ¼ tsp of nutmeg
  • optional: ½ tsp dried garlic powder
  • optional: 1 tsp soy sauce for more umami flavors

Recipe Instructions: Start by soaking the raw cashews in hot water for about 15 minutes to soften them. If you have a high-speed blender (or any powerful blender), you can skip this step and blend for a bit longer. Drain the soaked cashews and add them to a blender. Also, add olive oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, pepper, and soy milk. Blend on high until creamy and smooth. Don't be afraid to blend for a bit longer, especially when you don't soak our cashews. It's ok if the sauce heats up a little bit in the blender to create that ultra-creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, or soy sauce for a bit of an umami flavor. Nutmeg will add a bit of warmth, and garlic (dried or roasted, not raw) can add a warm sweetness to the sauce. Transfer the sauce to a jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge or use immediately. 

Editor's Rating:
5

One of the most versatile and beloved sauces in traditional French cooking is bechamel or white sauce. This vegan bechamel sauce is the easiest and most convenient way to make a plant-based bechamel. It comes together in 5 minutes, and you probably have all the ingredients for this sauce on hand. 

This 4-ingredient recipe for vegan bechamel sauce is made without butter and flour, and it’s a creamy, indulgent base for many dishes, such as pasta recipes.

📘 What is Béchamel Sauce?

Béchamel sauce, or white sauce, is one of the five mother sauces in French cuisine. It’s a creamy and versatile base used in many dishes, from lasagna and macaroni and cheese to soufflés and gratins. 

Traditionally, béchamel sauce is made with butter, flour, and milk, but this vegan version substitutes these ingredients with dairy-free options, making this sauce perfect for a vegan diet and just as versatile (if not more).

For a traditional béchamel sauce, the sauce is heated up on the stove, and flour is stirred in to make it thick, buttery, and creamy. This plant-based version is not traditional but is just as delicious, creamy, and versatile!

White bechamel sauce in a bowl on a plate and a spoon scooping out some sauce to show the creaminess.

⭐️ Why you should try this recipe

When it comes to vegan cooking, finding substitutes for dairy-based sauces can be challenging. This vegan bechamel recipe offers a creamy alternative that’s not only delicious but also nutritious. Here’s why you should give it a go:

  • So creamy and easy to make. This bechamel sauce comes together in 5 minutes! I have been making this sauce for more than ten years, and I still can’t get enough of it. If you have a high-speed blender, you don’t need to soak the cashews, which means this white sauce is ready in 5 minutes (!). 
  • This recipe is very allergy-friendly, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and also flour-free.
  • It is customizable. Adjust the seasonings to suit your taste preferences. So, for more umami flavors, add a splash of sot sauce or miso, and for a sweeter flavor, add a bit of maple syrup. For a very cheesy sauce, double the nutritional yeast in this recipe.
  • The most versatile sauce in my kitchen is this white bechamel sauce. I love adding this to pasta such as pasta fresca or brussels sprouts pasta. But it’s also delicious in salads or in soups.
Ingredients for bechamel sauce on a white backdrop in several bowls with descriptive labels.

🍄 Ingredients 

This vegan béchamel sauce is so easy to make. You will probably memorize the recipe after a few times. Here are the ingredients for the best vegan béchamel sauce.

  • Cashews – cashews provide creaminess and a subtle nutty flavor, serving as the base for the sauce. 
  • Olive oil – adds richness to the sauce, ensuring it’s velvety and indulgent.
  • Nutritional yeast – adds an umami flavor to mimic the traditional béchamel’s richness.
  • Salt and white pepper – enhances the overall taste.
  • Plant-based milk – gives the blender a bit of help and adds a creamy consistency, ensuring the sauce is not too thick or too thin. Soy milk is a good option for this recipe.
  • Optional nutmeg – traditionally, béchamel sauce does not contain nutmeg as an essential ingredient. However, nutmeg is often added as a seasoning or flavor enhancer to béchamel sauce in some recipes. It adds warmth and depth to the sauce.
  • Optional soy sauce – enhances umami, making the sauce even more flavorful, and it can replace the nutritional yeast.

🥣 Substitutions and variations

  • Swap cashews for blanched almonds, but any other nut or seed is not a success for this recipe.
  • Use 1/2 vegetable broth and 1/2 milk for extra flavor.
  • Experiment with different spices and herbs to create your unique sauce. My favorite addition is dried or roasted garlic. 

🥣 How to make vegan béchamel (step-by-step with photos)

Follow these simple steps to whip up a creamy vegan bechamel sauce:

Step 1: Soak the cashews (if needed)
Start by soaking the raw cashews in hot water for about 15 minutes to soften them. If you have a high-speed blender, you can skip this step and blend for a bit longer. 

Step 2: Blend Ingredients
Drain the soaked cashews and add them to a blender. Add olive oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, pepper and soy milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Don’t be afraid to heat up the blender a bit. This helps in making the sauce super creamy. 

Step 3: Taste 
For added depth of flavor, incorporate a pinch of nutmeg or a splash of soy sauce. 
Transfer the sauce to a jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge or use immediately. 

Make sure to check the recipe card for the full recipe with the exact quantities and information on all the ingredients.

📔 Tips

  • Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your preferences. More nutritional yeast for cheesiness, a pinch of nutmeg for warmth, or soy sauce for umami. Never add more nutmeg than needed. In this recipe, ¼ of a teaspoon is enough. Too much nutmeg can have serious health consequences.
  • If you have a high-speed blender, you don’t need to soak the cashews. 
  • Don’t be afraid to blend for a bit longer, especially when you don’t soak the cashews. I do this all the time. It’s OK if the sauce heats a little bit in the blender. The goal is an ultra-creamy consistency.
  • Adjust the thickness of your vegan bechamel sauce. For specific recipes, you want to make a thinner or thicker bechamel sauce. For a thinner bechamel sauce, add a little more soy milk; for a thicker version, use more cashews.  

❔ How to store vegan bechamel 

If you have leftover vegan béchamel sauce, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. The consistency might have become thicker after a few days. Add a splash of soy milk to bring back its creamy consistency.  When heating, add more soy milk as needed to thin.

White bechamel sauce in a bowl on a plate and a spoon with bechamel sauce on it next to the bowl.

💬 Frequently asked questions

Is Alfredo sauce the same as béchamel sauce?

No, they are not the same. Béchamel is a white sauce made with milk, while Alfredo sauce is a richer, cream-based sauce typically made with heavy cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese.

What is béchamel sauce made of?

The basic formula for béchamel sauce includes butter, flour, and milk, often seasoned with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. In my vegan version, we’ve replaced these ingredients with cashews and olive oil.

What is the point of béchamel sauce?

Béchamel sauce serves as a versatile base in cooking. It adds creaminess and a subtle flavor to various dishes, such as pasta, gratins, macaroni, casseroles, and soups. Its creamy texture and neutral taste make it a go-to ingredient in many classic recipes.

Is béchamel sauce the same as heavy cream?

No, they are different. Béchamel is a sauce made by thickening milk with a roux (butter and flour), while heavy cream is a high-fat dairy product used in cooking and baking.

Can you freeze béchamel sauce?

Béchamel sauce can be frozen in an airtight container or in an ice holder for up to 1 month. The consistency might have changes after thawing. Add a splash of soy milk to bring back its creamy consistency.  When heating, add more soy milk as needed to thin.

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📖 Recipe

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White bechamel sauce in a bowl on a plate and a hand holding a spoon in the sauce.

Vegan Bechamel Without Butter and Flour (White Sauce)

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  • Author: Bianca
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (3-tbsp servings) 1x
  • Category: sauce
  • Method: blender
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Rich, vegan bechamel sauce made with cashews! Just 4 ingredients and a blender are needed. Perfect for pasta, soups, macaroni, mac ‘n’ cheese, and more!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (130 gr) raw cashews (unsalted/unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ to 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) soy milk
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • optional: ¼ tsp of nutmeg
  • optional: ½ tsp dried garlic powder
  • optional: 1 tsp soy sauce for more umami flavors

Instructions

  1. Soak the cashews (if needed)
    Start by soaking the raw cashews in hot water for about 15 minutes to soften them. If you have a high-speed blender (or any powerful blender), you can skip this step and blend for a bit longer.
  2. Blend Ingredients
    Drain the soaked cashews and add them to a blender. Also, add olive oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, pepper, and soy milk. Blend on high until creamy and smooth. Don’t be afraid to blend for a bit longer, especially when you don’t soak our cashews. It’s ok if the sauce heats up a little bit in the blender to create that ultra-creamy consistency.
  3. Taste
    Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, or soy sauce for a bit of an umami flavor. Nutmeg will add a bit of warmth, and garlic (dried or roasted, not raw) can add a warm sweetness to the sauce.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge or use immediately

Notes

  • You don’t need to soak the cashews if you have a powerful or high-speed blender.
  • This sauce is at its best when used fresh, but it can be kept covered for 4 days in the fridge or in the freezer for up to 1 month. When heating, add more soy milk as needed to thin.
  • Avoid adding too much nutritional yeast, as this will make the sauce cheesy. Depending on the brand, add enough to add some umami flavors. Instead, soy sauce or miso can be used to add umami flavors.
  • If your sauce is too heavy or cheesy, add a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
  • This sauce is perfect for pasta recipes, lasagna, creamy soups, moussaka, vegetable bakes, and more.
  • For specific recipes, you want to make a thinner or thicker bechamel sauce. For a thinner bechamel sauce, add more soy milk and more cashews for a thicker version.  

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 1080
  • Sugar: 1 gr
  • Sodium: 0.8 gr
  • Fat: 46 gr
  • Carbohydrates: 38 gr
  • Fiber: 9 gr
  • Protein: 19 gr

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