Umami Sauce

What is Umami?

Umami is the 5th flavour – the others being sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The term comes from Japan where it was first described. The component of the food that is responsible for this savour flavour is monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other glutamate compounds that occur naturally in foods.

What Foods Have Umami Flavour?

In addition to nutritional yeast, which is featured in this sauce, other foods that have the umami flavour include meat broths, mushrooms (especially shiitake), tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, fish sauce, soy sauce and cheese.

What is Umami Sauce?

In my mind, an umami sauce is any sauce that features the umami flavour. It can add a nice depth to a meal. This sauce has salty – from the salted cashews, sour from the lemon juice, and umami from the nutritional yeast. In addition, mustard powder adds a pungent quality, and the turmeric an earthy flavour.

How to Use Umami Sauce?

You can use this umami sauce on steamed or roasted vegetables, and on pasta or rice. It will likely remind you of an earthy, savoury cheese sauce.

Plant-Based Eating

You will notice that this is a plant-based recipe and that is intentional. I try to eat plant-based as much as I can. While I wouldn’t call myself a vegan, I aim to make the majority of what is on my plate an unrefined plant ingredients. Here are some of the benefits of the ingredients I selected:

  • cashews – provide plant-based protein at 18% protein by weight
  • nutritional yeast – I purchase the one that is fortified with vitamin D and B12. Read your labels when you purchase nutritional yeast
  • garlic powder – garlic, including garlic powder is an important anti-inflammatory and contains anti-cancer nutrients
  • mustard powder – did you know the mustard family includes broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts? Also called the cruciferous family, this group of plants contain important anti-cancer nutrients
  • turmeric – this spice is especially known for its anti-inflammatory properties
  • lemon juice – as well as vitamin C, lemon juice is another important anti-cancer compound


Umami Sauce

This recipe features nutritional yeast as the umami flavour. Use this sauce whenever you want to good savoury 'cheese-like' sauce, but wants to focus on savoury plant based eating.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cashews, non-vegan, nutritional yeast, sauce, umami, vegan cheese
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Jean LaMantia


  • food processor


  • 1 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water


  • Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Add more water if you want a thinner consistency.
    Plant Based Cheezy Sauce Recipe Ingredients
  • It is thicker and doesn’t have the same stringy consistency as real cheese, but has a nice nippy flavour. Let me know what you think of it in the comments below and please feel free to share it.
    Plant Based Cheezy Sauce Recipe Mixed

If you like this recipe, you should check out Pan Fried Maitake Mushrooms which is a super simple recipe but also features that umami flavour. In addition, check out Salad Dressing with Nutritional Yeast and Turmeric

To read more about the benefits of a plant-based diet read Foods that Prevent Cancer and get your copy of the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide.

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