Yummmmmm Saucccccccccce

It’s a rite of passage for every Oregon-based food blogger: the reproducing of the Yumm sauce.

For those not in the loop, Cafe Yumm! is a chain of eateries based in Eugene, OR that feature bowls topped with their signature Yumm sauce. You can also buy the rather pricey sauce in containers at natural type stores around the metro area, sold in Original, Roasted Garlic & Chipotle varieties.

Portland had its first Cafe Yumm! open in the downtown PSU area this summer and I’ve gone a couple times so far. Cafe Yumm offers what you want in a bowl and they’re famous for compiling it: wholesome beans, grains,  assorted toppings & that memorable sauce.

Now, I have no problem shelling out my lunch money for regular Whole Bowl cart visits, and  I’ll return to Cafe Yumm, but something hasn’t been as fresh or colorful in the to-go boxes or wait at this new Cafe Yumm. I do believe I had a  side of tofu cubes that was… microwaved…what? Even stranger in contrast to how  great their glazed tempeh is.  Regardless, that sauce sure sticks and it’s about time I made it at home, for way less money, for my own grain + beans + vegetables + sauce arrangements.  So, I did. And I’m content.

Red Quinoa with balsamic roasted cremini mushrooms, mini eggplant, carrots, cherry tomatoes, summer squash and simmered pocha beans.

The not-so-secret ingredients that make it soooo yum? Nuts, beans, lots of lemon juice, nutritional yeast and curry powder. My batch of sauce was based on my available ingredients, yearnin’ for spicy chipotles and the tang of a Whole Bowl (yes, I know rumor is that they just ripped off the yumm recipe, but like I can’t name 10 other bowls with sauce off the top of my head anyway! there’s room for delicious bowl competition!) Dear Cafe Yumm, this post was written with nothing but adoration for bowls.

Imitation Chipotle Yummmmmmm-Style Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ¼ cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle sauce (from canned chipotles)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • Dash dried basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1.  Puree everything in a blender.

2.  Scrape down side sand add more liquid if necessary.

3.  Season to taste.

4.  Sauce it up.

More Recipes & Yumm fanaticism online:

Check out the ‘original’ ‘imitation’ links above. Again, my batch was based on what I had on hand and I am very happy with the results – but there are clear differences in other recipes online, as well as many notes on how to achieve yumm-style authenticity in their comments.

from Cafe Yumm at PSU


  1. I think I may be a Portland vegan outcast. I have never had Yumm Sauce. Should I remedy that at the PSU location or just wait until I’m in Eugene next?

  2. I’ve never heard of that chain or that sauce, but after reading the recipe I had to try it! I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts, 1 garlic clove instead of 2, white kidney beans instead of black beans, and left out the curry powder because I had none. It still turned out great though, I am having some now on top of quinoa, leftover greek salad, and beet greens. It reminds me a bit of ‘liquid gold salad dressing’ from Becoming Vegan, in a good way. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. i’ve never had Yumm sauce either… would you say it’s crazy similar to the Whole Bowl’s? ’cause if you say yes i know someone who will pay $50 for this recipe!!! (i can give you their email if you like)

  4. Dear Jess,
    I’ve never had a yumm bowl or sauce, though I did peak into the PSU Cafe Yumm just the other day! I like making this type of thing at home, so thanks for another sauce recipe! Hmmm, Jess, what’s “chipotle sauce,” though? Chipotle hot sauce (and if so what brand)? or the adobe sauce that comes in a can of chipotles? Or or or . . .

    I also did a very lazy look around the store for pocha beans and couldn’t find them. Tell me what and where!


  5. Jess, this looks delicious! Red Quinoa is amazing and one of my favorite rice-substitutes for homemade Yumm! Bowls. Thanks for sharing.

    For what it’s worth, Yumm! Sauce from the restaurant is a little less expensive than Yumm! Sauce at grocery stores (we don’t set those prices). You can get a whole liter of Original, Garlic or Chipotle for less than $15.

    I am sorry to hear that your food wasn’t as fresh as you’d like at the PSU location. Please let us know if that’s something that you experience regularly.

    Thanks again for the great pictures and for spreading the word about Cafe Yumm! 🙂

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