Vegan Coconut & Onion Cheese Sauce

Vegan Coconut & Onion Cheese Sauce

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

Macaroni with butternut squash “cheese” may sound good on paper, but tastes too weird to be enjoyable. For me, anyway. I guess I’m so used to {and in love with} “country” mac ‘n cheese, that the idea of using a vegetable for a cheese substitute appealed less to my heart than my taste buds. Then my heart spoke to my taste buds, and my taste buds spoke to my words, and my words were: “This is crap. Mac ‘n crap.”

Harsh, I know. But before I became a vegan, I was big into cheese. Whenever I tell friends and family that I’m now vegan, they laugh and say: “No you’re not. You gave up cheese. Yeah, no. You’re not.”

As it turns out, it’s not that hard to give up cheese if you can find the right substitutes. For example, thick coconut milk. Now that’s a nice cheese substitute. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s rich…like cheese. The problem with coconut is that it tastes…well, like coconut.

Vegan cheese so good, it fooled my cat into thinking it was REAL cheese!
Vegan cheese so good, it fooled my cat into thinking it was REAL cheese!

So how does one solve this problem? They roast a large white onion and blend it into the coconut. Duh.

Roasted onion coated in oil, salt and pepper; drizzled in balsamic vinegar
Roasted onion coated in oil, salt and pepper; drizzled in balsamic vinegar

Vegan Coconut & Onion Cheese:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1/2-1 large white onion (I did 1/2 but will do 1 next time)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (+ additional for roasting onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (+ additional for roasting onion)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch


Set oven to 425 deg. F.

  • Split your onion in half. Oil both halves and coat with salt and pepper. Drizzle on a small amount of balsamic vinegar. 
  • Roast for 25 minutes.
  • Once cooled, roughly chop your onion. Add coconut milk and chopped onions in a blender. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth.

If your coconut milk is this thick, add a teaspoon of oil and 1-2 tablespoons of water.

  • Add 1/2 cup of soy milk in a pot. Add corn starch. Whisk until corn starch is fully dissolved. 
  • Add the coconut and onion cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes on medium low (stir frequently!).
  • Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Serve with pasta of choice.

I poured this coconut and onion cheese sauce over elbow macaroni, and added seasoned broccoli. For the broccoli, I used Italian herbs (oregano, basil), red pepper flakes, coriander, salt, pepper and my Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb blend. I didn’t measure. I just sprinkled and tasted.

Seasoned broccoli
Seasoned broccoli

To end things off, I sprinkled on a little more Mrs. Dash and dug in!

The roasted onion creates a flavor that doesn’t demand a lot of salt or pepper. I bet you figured out where inspiration for this recipe came from. That’s right: the roasted garlic sauce for my vegan white pizza!

Thick, creamy, hearty. This coconut sauce is now my go-to cheese substitute for pasta dishes.

~Live Well!


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