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. Cashews can be turned into cheese balls, cheesecakes, creamy sauces, and everything in between. As luck would have it, they also worked perfectly in this vegan cream cheese recipe.
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 cashews, which we don't want here.
- Lemon juice. Please use freshly-squeezed juice! It will give your cheese the best flavor.
- 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. Other fresh herbs, 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 patient! Be sure to stop the machine from time to time and scrape down the inside with a rubber scraper.
- Tip: 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. Instead, make the full-sized batch and freeze some for later.
- 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 vegan cream cheese and make any adjustments you like — more salt, lemon juice, or add-ins.
- Now slather it on a bagel and dig in!
Shelf-Life & Storage
Homemade plant-based cream cheese will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
I've 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've had luck using a Cuisinart 11 cup food processor, though it didn't turn out quite as smooth as the Vitamix batches.
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.
I don't recommend it. I've tried this before and the texture is never right. You're better off substituting a commercial vegan cream cheese. I've had luck with Daiya, Miyoko's and Kite Hill (and used the Kite Hill version to frost my vegan carrot cake).
My favorite way to eat it is on a toasted bagel, but it's also awesome on crackers or as a dip for raw veggies.
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 vegan cream cheese.
Easy Vegan 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.