Vegan Cheez Whiz

Vegan Cheez Whiz (16)

What a weekend.

I’ve been in crazy worker bee mode finishing the last details of my digital cookbook, Dessert Freedom. I decided to do everything myself – recipes, photos, book design, content, marketing, everything. All 100% me.

I couldn’t be more excited for the project and proud of myself for completing it. It’s scary to put yourself out there in such a bold way. Fears of rejection are front and center. But, I continue to tell myself that following my dreams and creating products that make me vibrate with energy is so flippin’ rewarding on it’s own. If Dessert Freedom is able to touch the life of just one other person, I’ve done my duty!

AND! I’ll be ready to share all the major Dessert Freedom details with you later this week. Ah, I can’t wait to share what I’ve made for you. Until then, let’s make some cheez whiz, mkay?

Vegan Cheez Whiz (4)

Vegan Cheez Whiz. Here’s the thing…

I ordered a cheese wrap at a raw food restaurant here in Montreal called Crudessence and it was amazing. Like, spellboundedly amazing. So, naturally, I asked them what was in it… and I recreated it.

Couple of words to note: this stuff is highly delicious as a sandwich or veggie spread. You know, the celery boats with the Cheez Whiz, maybe some raisins? But, it doesn’t melt. And, it’s vegan, so don’t expect it to taste 100% like the ‘real’ thing. Cool thing is, serving to serving, my vegan cheeze whiz has 2 grams less fat and 10 less calories than the Cheez Whiz original. Um… plus it’s made with just a handful of whole foods and not:

Whey, canola oil, milk, milk protein concentrate, maltodextrin , sodium phosphate, less than 2% of whey protein concentrate, salt, lactic acid, sodium alginate, mustard flour, worcestershire sauce (vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, water, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor), sorbic acid as a preservative, milkfat, cheese culture, oleoresin paprika (color), annatto (color), natural flavor, enzymes.

I’m sure there are soy-based store bought versions out there that are very similar – loads of processed gunk, maybe even some tartrazine if you’re lucky? Heh.

Case closed.

Make this version!


To view, print or email this recipe, click here.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Vegan Cheez Whiz
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Egg-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Smooth and creamy vegan cheese sauce that's perfect for any sandwich, wrap or vegetable spread.
  • ½ lb. cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup cashew halves, soaked in water for 12 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and place cubed butternut on a small baking sheet. Drizzle coconut oil over top and rotate to coat. Roast in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft and mushy.
  2. Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to the jug of your high powered blender. Add roasted squash.
  3. Puree until smooth, about 5 minutes. You'll have to use a spoon or tamper to push the ingredients into the blade. There is just enough liquids in this recipe to make it possible, but it can get a bit challenging. Be patient, continue to push the contents into the blade and process until smooth.
  4. Spoon cheez whiz into a clean jar, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours to allow the flavors to develop (or use it right away... I did!)
  5. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week.
  6. Makes 500mL, 2 tablespoons per serving, 8 servings.
For the soaked cashews - place raw cashews in a glass jar or bowl and cover with water. Cover the glass and place in the fridge. Drain the water from the cashews, rinse them and then use them in this recipe.
I used coconut oil in this recipe to help with the creaminess of the recipe. I do not know if other oils would work.
I'm not sure if sweet potato would work in place of butternut squash, but I don't see why not. It may make it a bit thicker/starchier, though.
I'm not sure this recipe would work without nuts. I'll work on a nut-free cheese recipe :)

View nutrition information (once on page, scroll down)

Vegan Cheez Whiz (50)

The notes of this recipe are STACKED with a ton of tidbits on how to be successful with this recipe. If for some reason I’ve missed something, let me know and I’ll help ya out, as usual.


If you struggle with candida, I’ve learned that nutritional yeast can/may be safe on the diet. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, check this out, and this, too.

If you do not have a high powered blender, no worries. You may have to add a bit more liquid to make everything blend together nicely, but the soaking the cashews will definitely help make it easier to work with.


And there you have it – spreadable vegan Cheez Whiz that will change your sandwich making!

Also, I’m headed to Toronto next weekend and I’d love to meet you if you’re in the area! Head on over to this page to learn more.

Now I’d love to hear from YOU!

Has there been a time in your life when you were scared of rejection but you embraced the fear and forged forward? Or, maybe you did the opposite and stopped pursuing your dream?

What steps do you take (or will you take) to bust through your fears?

Remember to be as specific as possible. Thousands of people in our community read these comments and your generosity of spirit can truly change someone’s life.

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. This sounds crazy! One of the things for me that I don’t miss about going dairy free is cheese! I have always disliked the stuff since I was a kid because of how nauseated I felt after having it. This sounds super cool and maybe I will become a vegan cheese convert!

    • Wow, Amanda. I think you’re the only person I’ve ever met that doesn’t like cheese. Mad props. I wish I had been so lucky. I was crazy over the stuff… which made going dairy-free so incredibly challenging.

  2. Since going dairy free, I MISS cheese! Cheese was one of my favorite things in the world. This looks like a yummy topper for some gluten free crackers! Or maybe mixed with a little salsa as a dip for nachos?

    My daughter has a milk allergy, so we went dairy free for her sake, but found that I feel SO MUCH better without dairy in my diet. It doesn’t seem to affect my husband or other daughter, but when I have a piece of cheese on a sandwich, I feel terrible for days afterward. So, thanks for a great alternative!

    As for rejection, I have always found myself having difficulty with follow through. To me, it can be a lot easier to not finish something than to finish it and realize that its not accepted as I wanted it to be. This was, of course, a big thing I had to deal with when finishing my college degree. I went to architecture school and the culmination is a thesis project – with a panel of engineers, mentors, and colleagues to impress. I stalled and even day dreamed about getting hit by a car to avoid having to finish (I know how twisted this sounds). In the end, I perservered and just put it all out there. There were people on my panel who didn’t love what I did, but there were those that DID! I have the degree and thesis book to show for it, but more importantly, I will always have the knowledge that following through and risking rejection beats failing to finish.

  3. Oh you know I LOVE that you used butternut squash in this recipe! As a kid I wasn’t huge on cheez whiz but I did love those little handisnacks things with the crackers and cheese, and the little red stick. Oh, and Ritz Bitz. The cheeze ones were far superior to peanut butter in my 10 year old mind. They were like crack!

    I know I said it this weekend, but I’m so, SO proud of you for finishing the book. I know others are going to love it and that it will be such a valuable resource for so many. I think I’m sharing some of the same mixed emotions with my e-book coming out (which WILL be happening next month!). I think both of us will be pleased with our outcomes though. Hard work pays off!

  4. Hi Leanne – I love your website, thanks for all the healthful tips. One question though – I quite often see you put in alternatives for dairy-free or vegan diets if the original recipe is not appropriate but I also see you use a lot of nut products. We have a gluten intolerance and a nut allergy (all nuts) in our house which ends up ruling out a number of your recipes. If you have ideas for alternatives to things like cashews and almond butter it would be great if you would consider putting those in as well. I can use soy-based butters or sunflower seed butter but I never know what to do when you use cashews, walnuts, etc. Just a thought. Thanks again for a wonderful, healthy site.

    • Hi Angela – thanks for the feedback. I do try to do as many things nut-free as possible, but I will definitely try harder to make sure that your family is able to enjoy more of my recipes. The good news – 50% of my cookbook (coming out next month) is nut-free! And… I’ll be sharing a nut-free/vegan cheese sauce on the blog next week. Stay turned!

      • Thanks for the quick response Leanne! I wouldn’t want you to change your recipes to nut-free, I completely understand the health-benefits. I just never know how to substitute so if you have ideas for how to replace it (like for this cheez whiz – what can I use instead of cashew?) it would be awesome to see those alongside the dairy and vegan options. In case you were looking for more things to do. ;) Thanks again for so many wonderful recipes!

        • I am ALWAYS looking for more ways to make my recipes benefit more people. I’ll definitely work on it for you, for sure :)

  5. Vegan cheez whiz… Well, okay! I love cashews AND butternut squash, so how couldn’t this be good?!? Raw foodies do come up with some amazing stuff, don’t they?

    So, once upon a time, there was this girl and she LOVED to write stories. At her first college, they didn’t offer a major in creative writing so she passed the time getting in core classes, including psychology and economics, whose department heads tried to convince her to major in their subjects. No, thanks, she told them. Her second college was just a waystation, but she took a creative writing class there where she argued frequently and vociferously with her professor (she realized later that the professor had many excellent points). Finally, at her third and final college, an NCAA university, she convinced a reluctant Lucia Berlin to be her faculty sponsor and submitted a manuscript to the English Department to be considered for their Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree program. She was floored to find she’d been accepted on her first attempt and graduated a few years hence just a few hundreths of a percent shy of Magna Cum Laude.

    For the following fifteen years (plus change), she wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Spasmodically. Periodically. Sometimes even spastically, fervently, frenetically. BUT. But. She rarely let her words run wild and never allowed them true freedom.

    As she approaches the end of her fourth decade wandering around this little green planet, she’s committed more than ever to find that release, in whatever vehicle takes shape, and it will be ever so sweet because it will be wholly and authentically her own. :D

  6. This is such a brilliant idea, but I do have a quick question for you. I’m allergic to all nuts and was excited to see that you had labeled the recipe “nut-free”. However, there are cashews in the recipe. Do you not consider those to be a nut? I always have and assumed others do, so it caught me off-guard.

    I’m not complaining in any way, I just thought I’d ask. :-) Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • Hi Olivia – I’m so sorry to have gotten your hopes up. It was a typo on my part… BUT I’m working on a nut-free cheese sauce for next week. Stay tuned :)

      • I’m nut free as well. Any chance hemp hearts could sub in? they’ve worked well in place of cashews other places? Maybe I’ll just try it and see.

        • Katharine, did you try this using hemp hearts? How did it work out? Sounds like a brilliant substitution to me.

  7. Wow, you are all so positive and passionate. That’s really cool.

    I am really a visual guy, and your pictures really do it for me. They are so vivid and real. Love them!

  8. Just curious why you promoted this as and have it labeled as “nut-free” when it so clearly depends on nuts to make it work. Isn’t cashews nuts?

    • Hi Joan – thank you for catching the nut-free piece there. It was an error, which we have removed. Sorry for the confusion!

  9. hahahaha thank you for listing the “unspeakables”… all those “extras” on the ingredients list hahhaha For me, Cheezewhiz was a bit of a culture shock… (haven’t seen it anywhere else in the world but Canada)… i mean, the cheeze is in a jar… and it’s spreadable all the time. OK, anyone else see that there’s sth wrong here?! LOL So, there is no childhood nostalgia here to connect me to it and desire it inexplicably when I know it’s bad for me….. So, thank you for this! I consciously read it’s vegan, then I read the ingredients of the recipe & went: but wait, where’s the cheese?!?! Oh, right, vegan! hahaha

    • I’m glad you liked that, Dina! Crazy, right? If you can’t read the ingredients, don’t buy. That’s my motto… unless I’m camping. Certain rules go out the window when camping. Great that you’ve never had cheez whiz. This is better for you!

  10. WOW! I have never liked Cheesewhiz but I think this would be an especially awesome recipe for a mom who is transitioning her kids from the crap to a WAY better option! Your creativity amazes me!

  11. Mmmmm delicious and so inventive :D ! What a much lovelier ingredient list than the original, as soon as I saw the picture I thought “turmeric” and in glad I was right. I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of pumpkin through, this is my kind of cheese spread:)
    Congrats on the book, I can’t wait to hear the details later this week

  12. LOVE that there’s butternut squash in this! We are definitely making this. When we were kids, we loved Peanut Butter and Cheese Whiz on celery, and in sandwich-form. We haven’t had any in so long because we knew how unhealthy it is. Now we don’t have to abstain from our peanut butter cheese whiz lovin’ any more! ;)

  13. Stepping out, presenting yourself, and waiting for a reaction is so nerve-wracking! I can talk about myself fairly easily, as long as it’s negative self-talk (a habit I’ve battled with for years…I’m getting better, but it takes some work to self-appreciate!) What I do have a hard time with is “selling” myself. I want to go to graduate school to study infectious disease, and having research experience is really good to have on your application for graduate school. But to do so…I had to write an email explaining why I’m a good candidate for professors to spend their time and money with in the lab. SO hard for me, especially because I had to seek a few professors out to ask for guidance (I’ve never been good at asking questions either, for fear of looking stupid). However, the same day I sent out some emails, I received a reply from a new professor on campus that does epidemiological research — EXACTLY what I want to go into. We’re meeting next week to talk about some ideas — eek! :)
    Leanne, I am so excited for your cookbook, as I know that all of your followers are. With the loving care that you put into this free blog for us, I know that your cookbook will be phenomenal. Don’t fear people’s reactions, because I cannot imagine someone NOT loving it! <3

  14. I can’t wait to make this. I hope it’s as good as your Alfredo sauce, which I just finished yesterday (did I mention it was my second batch!?)

    When you say “½ lb. cubed and peeled butternut squash”, is that before or aftering baking it?

    Also – big congratulations on your cookbook. Don’t you fear people’s reaction…what is it that Dr. Seuss said…”Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” PLUS – your awesomeness will shine through and who won’t love that?! ;)

    • The measurement of squash is before baking. And… you are the BEST Zosia. Thank you for your support and encouragement. You’re the BOMB!

  15. So incredibly proud of you and I am sure the book with be awsm and a great help too. I can’t wait to hear more and get my hands on it! :)

  16. I have never been a fan of Cheesewiz (it’s not really cheese! lol), but this sounds intriguing. I’ll have to try it sometime.
    I hope to meet you in TO on Saturday! Have fun in Canada!

  17. Am i able to substitute with almonds, i am not a nut eater and do not like the taste but it seems i can tolerate Almonds…what say you?

  18. Is there any great difference between steaming & roasting the butternut squash? And could you use sweet potato in place of the butternut squash? how would that work?

    • Hi Debbie – I’m sure that you could use sweet potato, although it may make it a bit more starchy. You could roast or steam, I just like roasting because it brings out a bit more flavor and doesn’t make for soppy squash. Hope that helps!

  19. Okay i am doing this recipe now and i have no idea what a pound of squash so i used a cup…i don’t have a scale…wish me luck :D

  20. Vegan Cheez Whiz…what a wacky yet amazingly awesome idea! Maybe I’ll make this for my lactose-intolerant friend and see what she thinks…

  21. My absolute favorite vegan cheese is from postpunkkitchen called “cashew queso”. It’s incredible on nachos, and a lot of commenters on the site said they have used sunflower seeds instead of cashews. That might work in your recipe, too.

  22. I’m not dairy-free (so far I haven’t planned on going dairy-free either! Lol) but its good to not over-dose on anything so I like to give my body a break from certain things and see how I feel. I’ll let my body tell me what to cut out so far it doesn’t want to cut out cheese or ice cream lol but I like the knowledge of alternatives that I can make on my “dairy breaks”! You rock and I thank you! Lol

  23. Question: How would this fare in a Mac & Cheese recipe, you think?
    I’m late on this post, so if I don’t get your response on time, I’ll come back to tell you how it went!

    I just love this blog!

  24. How much cooked squash comes from 1/2 pound? I just made a bunch of squash, not realizing that the amount specified was before cooking.


  25. Has anyone succesfully subbed anything for the cashews? My son is allergic :(
    I found organic canned squash and bought that. How much would I use for this recipe?

    • Hi Penny – I haven’t tried either but I bet 1:1 for the squash would work well and perhaps soaked sunflower seeds or almonds?

      • Ok, I give up. I have been googling for the last half hour trying to figure out how much 1/2 lb cubed squash equals to when mashed. Do you have any idea?

        • It was about 2 cups of cubed squash before it was cooked. I hope that helps!

          • That did help, thanks so much!
            For me, this recipe was a flop :( But I think that it was my fault. I don’t even like cheese whiz or nutritional yeast, so while it was worth a try, I knew that the chance of my liking this was low. Also,we cant have cashews, so I subbed almonds (last time trying that) and could not find fresh organic butternut squash at the time, so subbed canned (which I realized after tasting fresh cannot be compared).
            There are so many other recipes here that I am looking forward to trying!

  26. Question (hiding head in shame lol) We accidentally grew butternut squash this year (must have came in a container of yellow squash by accident) But we now have a ton so I can’t wait to use this. My question is, how in the world do you scoop it out once you cut the squash open? I thought it was hard inside so does it need to be pre-cooked so you can get it out? Please tell me you don’t peel the darn thing and cut like that. (yes I know google is my friend but Google is not YOU :) )

  27. Made this last night and it turned out really well!! So far i have used it on brown rice cakes with cucumber, and a dip for nacho chips!:) Yum! Because of the nutritional yeast and all the B vitamins it really gives you energy too! and it really satisfies that cheese craving! Great recipe Leanne!

  28. Hello Leanne, thank you for your website, l value it highly. Why is there yeast in the vegan cheez recipe, how would it be without? Cheers Julie

    • Hi Julie – the yeast is to give the recipe a cheesy flavor. I’m not sure how it could be made without it. Sorry!

  29. I made this last night. For those who are wondering, it turned out great, even with my regular cheap old blender. I just added a bit more water and it has a nice whipped texture.

    As a cheez whiz lover, I can say, this is tastes nothing like cheez whiz, but is tasty and satisfying and way healthier.

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