Totally vegan cream cheese? Heck yeah! It's not only possible...it's delicious too! This dreamy dairy-free cashew cream cheese will make you a believer.
There was a time when nothing made me happier than a big toasted everything bagel slathered in cream cheese. So good! I never thought I'd find a vegan substitute for my old breakfast favorite.
That was all before I started stockpiling cashews in my kitchen. Cashews are pretty amazing when it comes to making vegan versions of all things dairy.
What You'll Need
- Raw cashews. It's important that they're raw. This means they are not roasted. Roasting brings out the nutty flavor in cashes, which we don't want here.
- Lemon juice.
- Water. This may not be necessary, but you can add a splash if you have a hard time getting your cashews to blend up, or just want to thin your cashew cream cheese a bit.
- Add-ins. If you'd like, add in some of your favorite ingredients to make flavored cream cheese. I'm partial to chives. Strawberries, veggies, and hot peppers are some other add-ins you can try!
How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make cashew cream cheese. Scroll down if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
- Place your cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them soak for 4 to 8 hours. This softens them up so they blend easily!
- Rinse and drain your soaked cashews, transfer them to a blending device, and add lemon juice and salt.
- Blend until creamy! This can take a while, and the time will depend on how powerful your blender or food processor is. Be sure to stop the machine from time to time and scrape down the inside with a rubber scraper.
- If you'd like to make flavored vegan cream cheese, throw in your add-ins now.
- Pulse the machine to mix everything up. I've added some chives in the photos below.
- Taste-test your cream cheese and make any adjustments you like — more salt, lemon juice, or add-ins.
- Now slather it on a bagel and dig in!
Vegan Cream Cheese Tips & FAQ
- Is this recipe gluten-free? It is!
- Be patient when blending! It can take a while, especially if you don't have a high-powered blending device. But it's totally doable!
- Shelf-life & storage: Homemade vegan cream cheese will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
- What type of blending device works best for this recipe? I had the best results using a Vitamix, which is a very powerful blender. If your blender isn't high-powered, you're better off using a food processor. I had luck using a Cuisinart 11 cup food processor, though it didn't turn out quite as smooth as the Vitamix batches.
- Can cashew cream cheese be substituted for dairy-based cream cheese in cheesecake recipes? Maybe, but I wouldn't risk it. You're better off just following a recipe for vegan cheesecake. Try my vegan mango lime cheesecake, vegan chocolate cheesecake, raw cheesecake, or mini vegan pumpkin cheesecakes.
- Unless you're using a small blending device, I don't recommend cutting down on the batch size. You might not be able to get it all to blend.
More Vegan Cheese Recipes
- Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
- Nacho Sweet Potato Cheese
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Maple Dijon Vegan Cheese Ball
- Vegan Ricotta Cheese
Check out my video for more guidance on how to make cashew cream cheese.
Cashew Cream Cheese
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste (up to 3 tablespoons total)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Stir-ins of choice, such as chives, roasted garlic, veggies, strawberries, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers
Place the cashews, 1 ½ tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.
Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the mixture as needed.
Taste test and add additional salt and/or lemon juice if you like.
Add any stir-ins to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped and well blended.
Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.