Roasted Cauliflower Bites with Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

by on January 26, 2014
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Roasted Cauliflower Bites with Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

Super Bowl Sunday is almost here. If you’re looking for a snack that you can eat without guilt while all of your friends and family are stuffing their faces with chips and guacamole, have I got a treat for you. Make that two treats!

There are plenty of low-fat dips out there–I have almost two dozen right here–but I often have trouble finding low-calorie foods to scoop them up with. Homemade baked tortilla chips are fine, but they’re far from calorie free. And I can chomp on only so many carrot sticks before I start to turn orange. These cauliflower bites are the perfect scooper: cooked but still a little crispy and healthy but highly seasoned.

Roasted Cauliflower Bites
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You can turn these into Buffalo Bites by tossing them with your favorite hot sauce after they’ve baked for 15 minutes; then continue baking until done.
Serves: 6
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into individual bite-sized florets. Try to keep them about the same size. Rinse them in a colander under running water. Shake off excess water but don’t dry. Spread them out on the baking sheet.
  3. Combine all seasonings in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the cauliflower, turning the florets so that all sides are seasoned. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes; turn florets and bake another 15 minutes or until they are beginning to brown in spots. Remove and serve warm with nacho cheese or other dipping sauce.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6th of recipe Calories: 65 Fat: less than 1g Carbohydrates: 13.7g Sugar: 6g Sodium: 273.4mg Fiber: 6.4g Protein: 5g


Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

This is my new favorite party dip. I’ve been making nacho cheese sauce for years, mixing the sauce from my Macaroni and Cheeze with salsa, but I really love this version for its flavor and for the fact that it contains no nuts, seeds, or nut butters. Instead, it gets some of its richness and color from mashed sweet potato. I start with a base of lightly-flavored cheese sauce and stir in a can of the original Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chilies, which gives it a medium-spicy flavor. Rotel makes several flavors, so if you’re a spice-lover, you can use their hot version and if you don’t like the spicy, use the mild version. Whichever one you choose, you will be amazed at how rich and cheesy this spicy dip tastes.

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You can turn these into Buffalo Bites by tossing them with your favorite hot sauce after they’ve baked for 15 minutes; then continue baking until done.
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup plain, sugar-free non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 -3/4 teaspoon salt (optional or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 10-ounce can Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chilies, drained and liquid reserved
  • chipotle powder, to taste
  1. Put all ingredients except Rotel tomatoes and chipotle into the blender. Blend at high speed until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until mixture becomes very thick. Stir in the drained tomatoes. If sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or so of the reserved tomato liquid. Check seasoning, and add chipotle powder to taste if you’d like it spicier.
  2. Serve warm with Roasted Cauliflower Bites, tortilla chips, or crackers or atop burritos and tacos.
Makes about 2 cups. Each serving is a quarter cup. Nutritional data uses 1 cup of plain soymilk
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/8th of recipe Calories: 46 Fat: less than 1g Carbohydrates: 6.5g Sugar: less than 1g Sodium: 168mg Fiber: less than 1g Protein: 4g


Thank you to reader Judith for suggesting Buffalo cauliflower bites for the Super Bowl edition of my newsletter. And thanks for the inspiration from PETA’s Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” and The V Word’s Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. Both recipes look delicious, though I’d skip the oil and substitute my Tofu-Cashew Mayo for the margarine.

For more Super Bowl party ideas, be sure to subscribe to NewsBites. I’ll be mailing out the Super Bowl edition to new subscribers all this week, so it’s not too late.

Happy, healthy snacking!


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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

1 moonwatcher January 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm

These look scrumptious, Susan!! Spicy and warm and full of that sort of “buttery” tasted of roasted cauliflower–without any butter! And the dip looks great too–who knew a nacho dip like that could be so healthy? Wonderful photos too–thanks for giving us NewBites readers the first heads up. 🙂




2 East Meets West Veg January 26, 2014 at 11:41 pm

That cauliflower looks amazing! Sweet potato in the nacho cheese sauce!? Great idea! What a healthy snack for game day!


3 admattai January 27, 2014 at 8:56 am

This looks amazing, I’ll have to try it this week!


4 3girls1apple January 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

This is just what the doctor order!!! I’m starting a vegan challenge at the end of the month. Ahhhh wish me luck…


5 Owen Hogarth January 27, 2014 at 11:35 am

wow this dish is all around amazing. Not only vegan but no additional cholesterol, definitely something to try this weekend while spending some time watching a movie at home.


6 Tracey January 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Does the nacho cheese sauce work on actual nachos? I have some burrito filling in the freezer and thought I would use it to make vegan nachos for the super bowl


7 Susan Voisin January 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Of course! It makes great nachos. I hope you enjoy it!


8 Prodis January 27, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Thanks, im from Brazil;


9 Dawn Meisch January 27, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Wow, this sauce looks great. We already make your cauliflower cheese sauce weekly. This one looks like a great way to get my 6 year old to eat sweet potatoes.


10 Anne January 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm

This looks delicious and I am excited to try it! I do have a (somewhat loosely related) question though. My young adult daughter who eats a fairly plant based diet has noticed she gets a stomach ache any time she has foods containing nutritional yeast. Have you heard of this occurring in others?


11 Robyn B | Modern Day Missus January 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Cauliflower is so underrated, isn’t it, and that cheese looks great – a very interesting recipe.

Love it!

Robyn xx


12 annie @ chase that i love January 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm

My eyes just got huge. I would eat these like chips and probably not share. Maybe I’d better get extra cauliflower just in case.


13 Christine (The Raw Project) January 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm

This looks great and the sauce recipe is genius with sweet potatoes, thanks!


14 Annie January 29, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Working with what I had in my kitchen, I made these cauliflower bites with your hummus in a blender recipe and the combination was DELICIOUS. The cauliflower bites are also great on their own. I really love your recipes — thanks for all of them!


15 Colette January 30, 2014 at 11:59 am

2 of favorite things – califlower and nutritional yeast!!! I’m defintely making this for dinner tonight 🙂 🙂


16 Lee at Veggie Quest January 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Susan, this looks amazing!! I just printed it out. What a fun Super Bowl snack!


17 Howard Rosenberg January 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm

An alternative for the cheese sauce is Nacho Moms fat free vegan “cheese sauces” (there are 3 varieties). They are great tasting and only 10 calories an ounce!


18 jello January 31, 2014 at 1:51 am

I hope you’ll tell me what I can use instead of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chilies. Can’t find them here.


19 Susan Voisin January 31, 2014 at 2:00 am

There are a couple of options. You could try making your own by simmering some chopped jalapeños with diced tomatoes. Or you could use a chunky salsa, but drain it some first and add it to taste because 10 ounces will probably be too much.


20 Lacie January 31, 2014 at 2:59 am

Looks so yummy! I love roasted cauliflower and any other veggie roasted too!

I can’t use the nutritional yeast though. Is it an absolute must to have in the recipe? Is there maybe an alternative to the yeast or maybe best to leave it out all together if I can’t have it?


21 Susan Voisin January 31, 2014 at 7:54 am

It’s the nutritional yeast that gives this most OT the cheesy flavor. You could try leaving it out and adding a teaspoon of white miso (reduce the salt), but I can’t promise the results will be as good.


22 MommyIce January 31, 2014 at 9:55 pm

We just tried this recipe tonight with baked tacquitos & it was a huge hit with the kids & husband! The entire thing was polished off in one sitting & there’s no guilt because it’s so healthy! (Yeah kids, go ahead – eat some more sweet potato!) Definitely planning on taking this dip with me to the Super Bowl party we’re going to on Sunday!


23 Shawn Hedman January 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Would your fantastic cauliflower bites & cauliflower sauce be too much? I love roasted cauliflower? I’m a cayenne fan btw-I carry an organic bottle in my purse along w/my vitamins-you’re sauce ideas are amazing!


24 Susan Voisin February 1, 2014 at 12:25 am

That would be a little too much cauliflower for me (which is why I made this sauce soy milk-based) but if it sounds good to you, go for it!


25 Catherine February 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Has anyone tried this with regular white potatoes instead of the sweet?


26 Susan Voisin February 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Sweet potatoes give it a little flavor and color but white will work.


27 Kim February 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I just made this “cheese” dip for my Super Bowl party this evening. It tastes even more amazing than it looks. Just about to pull the cauliflower out of the oven. Thank you for sharing!!


28 JCB February 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Just made the cauliflower with nacho cheese sauce and everyone loved it. Thank you for a great recipe.


29 Jackie February 2, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Just made this for the Super Bowl. The Nacho Cheese sauce was the best I’ve tried yet! Will definitely be making this often!


30 JG February 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Thank you for this amazing recipe! I made it for the Super Bowl and everyone loved it!


31 Deanna February 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Have got to comment on this recipe! The vegan nacho cheese, for which I did not have rotel tomatoes or any so I used salsa, was fabulous! This “sauce” actually tasted like cheese! Fantastic! I will definitely use on EVERYTHING! First sauce I felt was truly cheese-llike and look forward to making again and again….


32 Maureen February 4, 2014 at 6:45 pm

This was a huge hit at 2 Super Bowl parties! We will make this again and again . . ..


33 Carry February 5, 2014 at 11:19 am

We made this last night for dinner…OMG, it was delicious! My husband and I nearly finished off a whole head of cauliflower. A question: We used raw sweet potato instead of cooked and the sauce didn’t thicken up at all. Do you think they are related or is there another reason why the sauce never really got thick? TIA for your response.


34 Susan Voisin February 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

I think the sweet potato not being cooked could have been a factor; it takes some cooking for starches to develop; plus, 1/4 cup of mashed cooked potatoes isn’t the same amount of potatoes as 1/4 cup of uncooked potatoes–liquid escapes as it cooks.

Most of the thickening comes from the added starch, so I would make sure you use the full amount of potato or corn starch, even heaping it up a little bit, next time you make it.


35 Carry April 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

We made this again last night and upped the raw sweet potato a little. I also cooked it a bit more on the stove. We also subbed 1/4 cup cashews and ~3/4 cup water for the plant milk. It was thicker.

I can’t believe how much this recipe solves my craving for junk food! Thanks!


36 Garage Gyms February 7, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I’m not normally a cauliflower fan, but this looks pretty good. Maybe I’ll give cauliflower a second chance =)


37 Connie February 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this! It turned out banging!


38 deanna February 12, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Susan, I love your recipes! Please share what your favorite ‘non-dairy’ milk is – almond, rice, soy… I try not to use soy but have no problem using it if it makes a difference in the taste.

thanks again for all that you do!
Deanna 🙂


39 Nicole February 17, 2014 at 7:55 am

Would arrowroot work in place of the cornstarch?


40 Susan Voisin February 17, 2014 at 8:26 am

The texture will be a little different but the taste should be the same if you use arrowroot.


41 kylo February 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

How long does the nacho sauce keep? or rather how far in advance can I make the sauce?


42 Susan Voisin February 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

It should keep for a few days in the refrigerator. It may start to separate, so just be sure to stir it up.


43 Princy March 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I just made this a few moments ago and served them with tortilla chips for snack. My kids (5- and 7- year old girls) and husband LOVED them! Thanks for this terrific recipe!


44 Mary March 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

as a recovering cheese-a-holic, I thank thee! >.<


45 Kaitlin March 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Just tried the recipe – I love it! Had to stop myself from eating half the head of cauliflower when it came out of the oven. Made the cauliflower recipe as-is, except with no salt. Thanks for posting it, I really like your site!


46 Jenny March 21, 2014 at 2:29 am

Hi there,

I just wanted to send a big THANK YOU for this website!

A year ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I found a program online that is designed to help overcome MS, and the focus is diet (you are what you eat!). I can eat fish a couple of times per week, but besides that, no other meats, no dairy, and the smallest amount of fat possible.

I’ve stuck to this plan for a year now and get lots of ideas from your website. Without it, I wouldn’t have known where to start!

Thanks again!! Your website has truly helped me!



47 Danielle March 31, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Um… I made this a few days ago and the cauliflower and cheese sauce were both awesome.

I made the sauce tonight with pasta shells. Does anyone have that Annie’s boxed mac & cheese, salsa style, in their taste memory bank? Well, this sauce mixed with pasta shells is exactly like it, except WAY BETTER!

note: I do add a chopped garlic clove instead of garlic powder, some (okay, lots of) black pepper, some smoked paprika and extra cumin to the sauce.


48 Jaime April 11, 2014 at 8:26 am

I have trouble finding plain, sugar-free vegan yogurt. What brand do you use?


49 Corrin Radd April 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Made these tonight and we enjoyed them, thanks!


50 Etain May 7, 2014 at 12:01 am

Wow!! I found your blog last week when I was on the hunt for a healthy low fat vegan red beans and rice, but your whole blog blew me away!! The first thing I made was the cauliflower cheese sauce for pasta. My boyfriend who just became vegan loved it, I agreed. I made it again another night, added chipotle powder and cilantro to the mix and poured it over rice stuffed sweet potatoes and topped it with corn salsa. But tonight I made this! The cauliflower tasted great!! I made mine spicier 🙂 For the nacho cheese I didn’t have any ‘milk’ so I cut up corn and blended with a bit of water, then I added the remaining ingredients. I think it made the sauce thicker than intended but WOW!!! This nacho cheese sauce was amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing!

One day I’ll get to those red beans! Lol!


51 Amy Snelgrove July 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm


I am new to vegan cooking and I was wondering how long I should cook the sauce on low for it to thicken up all the way. Once it started bubbling it thickened up, but not as much as the photo, and definitely not enough to warrant thinning out. I saw your comment that the starches take a while to develop and I was wondering if maybe I pulled it off too soon?

I ate every last bit, and plan on making this a regular recipe, so I want to make sure I am making it correctly.

Thank you!


52 nlh110 August 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Does anyone else have trouble keeping this a day or two? I made it yesterday, used exact recipe and it was fabulous. Today I wanted leftover and the sauce is very runny, stirring didn’t help any. Would reheating it work if I added more cornstarch today? Or am I missing something?



53 Susan Voisin August 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I don’t know why that’s happening, but adding cornstarch while it’s cold and then bringing to a boil should work to thicken it up.


54 waldripp August 30, 2014 at 11:27 pm

I made this today for our college football tailgate, knowing that I might be the only one who ate any of it. This is not a group that is interested in healthy food! It was hilarious to see my niece try to keep the horror out of her face when she heard the words “nutritional yeast” for the first time! Guess I shouldn’t have tried to explain what was in it! But once they gave it a try they were going back for more! This cheese sauce is pretty amazing! I will be making this again, for sure! Thanks so much!


55 Brittney September 14, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I didn’t have any sweet potato when I last minute decided to make this, so used rinsed and drained Northern Beans. Came out great.


56 Rayca September 16, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I tried this recipe and it was out of this world. What I mean is, it was great out of the oven and off the stove. But that’s it. It needs to be eaten as soon as it’s done. The cauliflower, after refrigerating, was like limp noodles. The dip was not soupy, it was like water! Just awful. Other worldly. I have no idea how my thick, creamy, sauce could have gone to a watery mess but it did.


57 Christina H September 30, 2014 at 10:17 am

YES, a vegan cheese sauce without cashews. I can’t stand nut-based cheeses :-/


58 lalon October 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

This was yummy! I didn’t have any Rotel tomatoes, so I used my favorite salsa and added some Louisiana hot sauce. Oh I can think of all kinds of things to use this sauce on!


59 Sheri A October 30, 2014 at 4:52 am

Hi Susan! I made this cheese sauce for the first time yesterday. It was simmering on the stove nice and warm when my college age daughter and her friend stopped by. They squealed ” QUESO !!” When they saw it and inhaled 3/4 of it with some chia/quinoa chips I had just purchased! It was a hit!!!! After they ate it I told them it had sweet potato in it… They were in disbelief!! Haha! I will be making this a lot in the future! Thank you for being so awesome and sharing all your great recipes with us!!!! Xoxoxo


60 Janice November 5, 2014 at 10:28 pm

This was so yummy!

Trader Joe’s carries mashed sweet potatoes in the frozen isle. They are little 2 tbsp pucks of mashed sweet potatoe so you don’t have to make a lot. Nothing added to them either.


61 Diana November 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm

The Cheese Sauce was a HIT!!


62 Noni January 1, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Non dairy milk? Is that dried? I’m confused.


63 Susan Voisin January 1, 2015 at 6:29 pm

No, it’s just regular soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, etc., whatever non-dairy milk you usually use.


64 Noni January 2, 2015 at 9:34 am

Thank you, Susan!


65 Rhea Parsons February 1, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Hi Susan,

I just saw this and I’m honored that I could have inspired you. I’m a big fan of yours. Thank you so much!


66 Syed March 17, 2015 at 5:07 am

Hey I love your recipe and can’t wait to try it out. Just a quick question are there any other extra calories from the spices for the roasted cauliflower? Your 65 calorie per serving for 6 servings bring it up to 390 calories but I google and found a large head of cauliflower only has roughly 200-250 calories so I was just confused.


67 Andrea Stovall August 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm

I just tried this dish tonight and got 2 thumbs up from my husband! The sauce was very flavorful and made us feel like we were really eating nacho cheese sauce. The healthful cauliflower bites made for guilt free snacking. Thank you so much for posting this.


68 Alexandra June 21, 2016 at 8:43 am

I made the cauliflower but used homemade ranch seasoning and they were so good! As another commenter said, they definitely satisfy a junk food craving! My husband really liked them too and he’s usually not a fan of stuff like that. I also made the “queso” and it is by far the best “cheeze” I’ve had. I personally didn’t like how much tomato flavor and texture the rotel gave it so next time I’m going to just use salsa to taste. Can’t wait to try it in a baked mac and cheeze!


69 Mary September 12, 2016 at 8:22 am

I made the roasted cauliflower and the sauce last night. It was delicious! I will certainly keep this recipe and make it again.


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