Vegan Cream Cheese Recipe
Creamy spreadable dairy free vegan cream cheese perfect for bagels and sandwiches is easy to make with cashews and so delicious! If you’re ever in need of a cream cheese substitute, you’ll need this recipe!
Over the past few years I’ve had so much fun trying new (to me) dairy-free “cheeses” made with nuts. The store-bought versions have gotten so good, and more and more of us are making them at home too.
Like my Vegan Ricotta recipe, this vegan cream cheese was inspired by several store bought versions that blew my mind. Kite Hill and Miyoko’s are my favorite, so I checked the ingredients and figured out how to make it myself. Both are made with a cashew base and real food ingredients. I’ve made about 5 batches of vegan cream cheese now, and my family likes it just as much as the dairy version. Maybe more. Here’s the step-by-step method for making your own batch of dairy-free vegan cream cheese.
How to Make Dairy Free Cashew Cream Cheese
Start with Raw Cashews
I’ve worked with raw cashews quite a bit to create the creamiest, most delectable dairy-free recipes. Cashew cream is what makes my Broccoli Soup and Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip creamy, and blended cashews make an incredible no-bake Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake. In all these recipes it’s important to use raw, rather than roasted, cashews to avoid a nutty flavor.
Soak the Cashews
The trick to making cream cheese out of cashews is to use raw cashews, soak them for at least 6 hours, and blend with a high powered blender. If you’re in a hurry, you can pour very hot water over the cashews and blend them after about 3 hours. Older cashews may need a longer soak. Wait until the cashews are soft and easy to break in half with your fingers.
How to Culture Vegan Cream Cheese
Once the cashews are blended into a smooth and creamy spread the “cream cheese” will be lovely, but won’t have that classic tangy element. To get the tang, we need to culture the cream cheese, which means adding live cultures from dairy-free plain yogurt or a probiotic capsule. This is similar to making yogurt at home. I tested this recipe both ways and preferred the flavor of the yogurt cultured version to the probiotic. Some people culture with sauerkraut juice or rejuvelac , I haven’t tried those yet though.
Transfer the cream cheese to a clean (you can sanitize in a hot dishwasher) small glass storage container. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours while the live cultures from the yogurt incubate and do their tangy thing. The cream cheese will firm up during this time, and even more after chilling in the refrigerator, so don’t be alarmed if it seems too loose. I’d also like to mention that I learned this cheese culturing technique from queen vegan cheesemaker Miyoko Schinner, who has a couple of cookbooks you may be interested in (these are Amazon affiliate links, which means I make a small commission when you order through them): Artisan Vegan Cheese and The Homemade Vegan Pantry.
Store your vegan cream cheese in the refrigerator, covered, and it should last about a week!
Homemade Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Variations
I like this cream cheese as-is, but you can have fun with various flavors too. Here are some ideas for mix-ins.
- Cinnamon and Coconut Sugar
- Apple or Pumpkin Butter
- Truffle Salt
How to Use Your Vegan Cream Cheese
- Use as a spread for veggie sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese is a tea time classic).
- Spread on a slice of Vegan Banana Bread
- Use to make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting on these Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins or Carrot Cake Muffins
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- 1/8 cup water
- 1 tablespoon plain nondairy yogurt (Kite Hill recommended)
- sea salt to taste
- Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Cover and let soak at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
- Place the soaked cashews, coconut cream and water in a blender. Blend until very smooth and creamy, which may take a few minutes or more depending on your blender. Add the yogurt and blend to combine. Season to taste with salt.
- Transfer to a clean small glass storage container and cover.
- Let the cream cheese sit at room temperature to culture for about 24 hours. During this time the cream cheese will thicken slightly and develop a tangy flavor. Chill for at least two hours in the refrigerator.
- Store your vegan cream cheese covered in the refrigerator.
This vegan cream cheese lasts about a week in the refrigerator.
I add the yogurt last to avoid killing the cultures if the blender heats up.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1/10 recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 63mg Carbohydrates: 8g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 5g Protein: 3g