Easy vegan cream cheese made with four key ingredients that is herb flavored with scallions and cilantro. GF, Paleo & Whole30 too. Makes for a perfect spread or dip for crackers.
I am super excited to share this easy vegan cream cheese recipe with you today!
I have actually been sharing this recipe in different ways in the past – as in incorporated into other dishes, namely my vegan ricotta stuffed zucchini ravioli over pumpkin puree with walnuts, savory pumpkin dip with rosemary cashew ricotta, and vegan zucchini rolls with herbed cashew ricotta, mint and avocado.
But I felt it was only right to dedicate a whole blog post to this vegan cream cheese itself.
Since I try to strictly follow a dairy free diet for health reasons (I just feel significantly better when I do not eat dairy), finding a vegan non dairy substitute for cream cheese was high on my list.
What is vegan cream cheese made of?
Cashews! The main ingredient in this dairy free cream cheese is soaked and drained raw cashews.
It is simply amazing what you can do with cashews to make them taste dairy-esque. I mean if you think about it, it makes sense, cashews are a bit soft and creamy when in their raw form and soaked. You can’t exactly say the same thing about walnuts, or brazil nuts.
Unlike some other nuts cashews truly do get very soft when soaked overnight and are a bit milky almost. The key to this vegan cream cheese is to use specifically raw cashews and to soak them overnight or for a couple hours in boiling water. You really need those cashews super soft to break down properly into a creamy consistency.
Why this is the best vegan cream cheese:
- Easy to make in a high powered blender or a food processor
- Perfect non dairy substitute for cream cheese
- Loved by vegans and cheese lovers alike!
- Only 4 key ingredients: cashews, apple cider vinegar, lemons, nutritional yeast
- Ready in minutes
- Easy to make once a week and use in various recipes
How to make my vegan cream cheese:
Start the night before by soaking raw cashews in water. Or, if you forgot to do that, as I frequently do, no worries; boiling water to the rescue. If making the day of, simply soak your raw cashews in boiling water for an hour.
Toss the cashews in a high powered blender (I use the Wolf Gourmet) or food processor.
Then to the cashews add lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. These two ingredients add a bit of a sour, lemony, taste that really gets that cheese flavor going. Blend the mix on high.
I then transfer the mix to a bowl and add nutritional yeast and lemon zest. You could also add this directly to the blender or food processor.
For flavoring after processing, feel free to add all types of herbs and spices. This is entirely up to you. I like a mixture of cilantro, and green onions, for an herbal cream cheese with a sharp fresh lemon kick, but you could add rosemary and sage instead or some chili peppers, cayenne powder, etc. That is entirely up to you.
For a super cheesey taste make sure to add some nutritional yeast as well. This is an ingredient I love to add to vegan recipes that need a bit of a cheesey kick. It simply is amazing what nutritional yeast can do. It’s an ingredient I always have in my pantry and is an absolute life saver in adding additional flavor to vegan recipes.
- Make sure you are use raw cashews – toasted ones will not work
- Make sure to soak your cashews overnight, or for 1-2 hours in boiling water
- Use a high powered blender or food processor. In a regular blender you will have to add a lot more liquid to get the mix to blend so it will be more liquidy than a standard cream cheese consistency.
- Add less of the apple cider vinegar at first to taste test for desired acidity levels
- For a thinner consistency dilute with a bit of water
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last:
- This will keep in the fridge for 5 days
- For a plain cream cheese omit the scallions and cilantro
- For other flavor combinations try adding sun dried tomatoes, rosemary, sage, roasted garlic, chili peppers, etc.
- For a more cheesey flavor add more nutritional yeast
- For a stronger taste mix in a tablespoon or more of high quality aromatic extra virgin olive oil (another ingredient I always have in my pantry to add that special finishing touch to my recipes)
How to use this vegan cream cheese:
- As a spread on toast or bagels
- As a dip with my all time favorite Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers
- As a filling for zucchini rolls
- As a filling for vegan ravioli
- In place of ricotta in a lasagna
The possibilities are endless. Once you have this delicious non dairy cream cheese as a base your dish is sure to be an epic success.
Even my cheese loving dad loves this non dairy cream cheese!
Now if you’re looking for where to buy vegan cream cheese, I can always find a wide selection at my local Whole Foods. My favorite store bought cream cheese brands are Kite Hill and Miyoko’s. They both are nut based while being soy and chemical free. I do urge you to take a few minutes and simply try making your own non dairy cream cheese from scratch though! It’s an easy recipe that can be made weekly and used in all sorts of savory dinner recipes for days.
Or you can just eat it as a dip with crackers as I sometimes do.
- 2 cups cashews halved and soaked in water overnight, then rinsed and drained
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar add less apple cider vinegar for a less acidic cream cheese, using 1-2 tablespoons instead
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 1 lemon zested
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon high quality extra virgin olive oil optional
In a food processor process cashews, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice until smooth. This will take a few minutes.
Place vegan cream cheese mixture into a bowl and add cilantro, green onions, lemon zest, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and olive oil (optional).
Mix until smooth.
Serve as a dip with crackers, or spread on bread.
Casey the College Celiac says
I’ll admit I’ve never been a cream cheese person, even before going dairy free…but this looks like a delicious spread!
Thanks! It is the best! It is a perfect dip for crackers or just a filling for other recipes too!
Yum! I always love a good savory spread. I’m new to the cashew cream world, and I’m loving every bite.
Cashews are seriously incredible nuts – especially all the dairy free substitute recipes you can make with them!
Chris @thinlyspread says
I can think of so many recipes this would be perfect for and a bowl of it with crackers for dipping into it would be fab for my lunch!
Yes this works as a great filling in lots of recipes!
Brandi Crawford says
I have been dying to find a way to make dairy-free cream cheese. YES! I love anything with cilantro.
This is it! This is one of my favorite home made dairy free cheese recipes!
Sandhya Hariharan says
My daughter is huge fan of garlic and herbs cream cheese.. She can have them in her sandwiches anyday!! This sounds like a great fix when i run out the flavoured one at home.
April J Harris says
Your Vegan Cream Cheese looks absolutely delicious. Love the scallion/cilantro combination for flavour and I was interested to learn more about how cashews can substitute so well for dairy.
Thanks! Yes cashews are great as a substitute for dairy in dairy free recipes!
This looks so good! I love it!
Does it matter if the cashews are salted or unsalted since they are strained and rinsed?
The cashews should be raw – normally the raw cashews I have bought have been unsalted. I am not sure if they sell salted raw cashews.
I made this cream cheese but in my opinion it has too much acidity, the apple cider vinegar overpowers the cashews. Next time I make this I will omit the vinegar. Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks for trying my recipe. I’m sorry it was too acidic for you. The vinegar definitely adds a bit of acidity to the recipe but I’ve made this cream cheese a handful of times and find the acidity complements the cream cheese. I’ll add a note in the recipe though!
Wow! This looks absolutely amazing!