Here are all the best healthy vegan sauce recipes to take your meals to the next level, from pasta sauces to drizzles to dipping sauces!
Want to step up your plant-based and vegan meals? Enter: these tasty vegan sauce recipes! Any recipe goes from blah to amazing with a dollop of cashew cream. Buddha bowls get a flavor makeover from zingy lemon tahini sauce. Fettuccine gets a silky, creamy coating with our vegan alfredo.
OK, now we’re hungry! This collection of sauce recipes is everything you need to add life to your vegan recipe arsenal. We’ve got everything from savory to sweet to marinara to pesto to BBQ toe everything in between. Are you ready to get cooking?
Number one in our vegan sauce recipes: cashew cream sauce! This silky, creamy sauce is made from blended cashews and it works as a stand in for vegan sour cream or mayonnaise. Dollop on chili, stir into soups to make them creamy, or use as the basis for other sauces like pale green Cilantro Sauce, Vegan Nacho Cheese, or Vegan Alfredo. It's endlessly versatile and tastes so rich, it will be your new go-to after the first taste.
Next up: vegan pesto sauce! Traditional basil pesto has a bit of Parmesan cheese to give it that signature savory flavor. But who says pesto needs cheese? This one is every bit as flavorful, but without the dairy. Our secret? White miso, which brings a complexity of flavor that mimics the Parmesan quite nicely. Also try Vegan Cashew Pesto, which subs cashews for the traditional pinenuts (they're easier to find and cheaper).
Why buy BBQ sauce when you can make it at home? This vegan BBQ sauce is so tangy and savory that it will make you into a believer. Even better, it’s seriously easy to make: it’s just a matter of tossing a few things into a pot and simmering for 10 minutes. Most of the ingredients are things you’ll already have in your pantry!
Here's an intensely creamy and tangy all-purpose green sauce that you'll want to bathe in! (Really.) It's a cashew-based sauce, blended with lime and cilantro until light green and thick. It's perfect for drizzling over roasted sweet potatoes, grain bowls, or tacos. Or as a dipping sauce for fries! The sky's the limit.
This one’s for when you say: “Man, this would be good with sour cream!” Enter: vegan sour cream. It’s rich, creamy, and made with only 5 whole food plant based (WFPB) ingredients. And the texture and flavor? Weirdly similar the real thing. It’s perfect for dolloping chili or baked potatoes. Really, what isn’t better with a little sour cream?
Here’s a fun healthy alternative to mayo: this vegan avocado mayo! It’s made from real avocados, which gives it a brilliant green color. You get all that beautiful avocado flavor and a creamy sandwich spread at the same time. It’s easy to make: here are a few tricks to make it super creamy!
Looking for a great vegan alfredo sauce? Look no further: your noodles are destined for greatness with this one. It’s creamy and luscious, but full of nutrient-rich cauliflower and protein-packed cashews. Another advantage to this vegan alfredo sauce is that it’s gluten-free as well! Many alfredo sauce recipes have flour because it’s used to make the “roux” that thickens the sauce. So it works for many diets.
You're going to want to put this vegan tahini sauce on everything! As a tahini dressing for grain bowls or main dish salads. On sweet potatoes. On sandwiches and veggie burgers. Really anything that tastes good tastes better with lemon tahini sauce. It’s so easy to make! (PS What is tahini? It’s a paste made of sesame seeds, typically used in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes.)
This chipotle sauce recipe is vegan, and this time the creamy factor doesn't come from cashews. The magic ingredient? Tahini. It's combined with lemon, Mexican hot sauce, olive oil, cumin, and adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilis. Mix it together and it's a tasty spicy sauce to drizzle on tacos and dinner salads!
A really good red sauce is hard to come by! Many recipes take hours to simmer on the stove, and they don’t turn out that great. We wanted to make one that was tangy, super flavorful, and also takes about minutes to make. Meet our best ever easy marinara sauce! It’s heavy on the tangy sweet tomato flavor, a little garlicky, and perfect for a simple pasta.
This vegan homemade teriyaki sauce takes only 5 minutes to make, and is incredibly flavorful! It tastes better than store-bought teriyaki sauce, and is a healthy spin with none of the added salt, sugar and preservatives. There’s also no refined sugar, instead relying on maple syrup. You won't believe the flavor possible with only a handful of ingredients. It's perfect for stir fries and painting on veggie burgers.
It’s creamy and thick, full of savory mushrooms. It’s got just the right bite from a good dose of black pepper. Yes, this vegan mushroom gravy is so darn good you’ll want to pour it on just about everything! It’s a country gravy that Alex and I originally made for some flaky biscuits, but you could serve it on mashed potatoes or fries as vegan poutine.
Ready for one of the simplest, gourmet tricks in the book? It’s a homemade vegan balsamic reduction, and it’s calling your name! This sticky, tangy sweet glaze amps up all sorts of recipes. Got a caprese salad? Drizzle it with balsamic reduction to make it pop. A strawberry spinach salad? Infinitely better with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Let's not forget enchilada sauce! This homemade enchilada sauce is so tasty and takes just 25 minutes! It’s all natural with no preservatives, and it’s vegan and gluten-free, too. Turns out, it takes just a handful of ingredients to get huge flavor. This full-bodied sauce is zingy, zesty, and you’ll never want to stop eating it.
Here's one of the only sweet vegan sauce recipes: blueberry sauce! This sauce is luxurious, thick, syrupy, bright purple, and tastes like eating 1 million blueberries at once. And it’s made with only 5 ingredients! And there’s no refined sugar: it’s naturally sweet, too. It's perfect for pancakes or vegan vanilla ice cream.
Take a taste, and…well, you’ll be amazed by the flavor in this easy pizza sauce! It's only 5 ingredients, and takes just 5 minutes to make. Every time I make it, when I dip my spoon into that beautiful red sauce after blending it, it’s beyond my wildest dreams. We’ve had countless people tell us that it’s the best pizza sauce they’ve ever had.
And last but not least in our vegan sauce recipes...vegan nacho cheese! This cheese sauce is so creamy and flavorful that you'll swear off that plastic processed nacho cheese forever. TO bring it all full circle, the creamy base of this sauce is blended cashews! They're combined with green chiles, mustard and a load of spices to make a seriously flavorful sauce. Dip in tortilla chips and be amazed!
Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Soak for at least 1 hour (or the very least, 30 minutes if you have a high speed blender). For preparation in advance, you can soak the cashews overnight, which is even better.
Drain the cashews. Add the cashews, broth or water, and salt to a blender, then blend on high for 1 minute. Stop and scrape, then add additional liquid if necessary to come to a creamy consistency. Blend for several minutes until creamy and smooth. (Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for several months.)
*This recipe doesn’t call for salted cashews, but if that’s all you can find, add only half of the kosher salt when you first blend the sauce. Then add additional salt to taste.
Keywords: Vegan Sauce Recipes
More plant based resources
A few more plant based resources for fitting vegan recipes into your everyday:
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.