Quick and easy vegan cashew cream cheese made with 3 ingredients: raw cashews, coconut oil and lemon juice. Use it as a spread, or in no-bake recipes that call for traditional cream cheese!
Cashew Cream Cheese Made Easy
I have a go-to recipe to share today, one that will make the holidays especially easy and delicious. Who doesn’t want that? It’s my quick and easy, plant-based cream cheese!
It’s perfect as a spread for bread, crackers, and bagels. But it can also be used to make all kinds of no-bake appetizers and desserts–the kind that call for traditional cream cheese, such as cheesecake, cheeseballs, and cream cheese chocolate truffles–for the holidays and beyond.
Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese Benefits
This delicious and versatile vegan cheese is all of the following and so much more:
- Vegan (egg-free, dairy-free)
- Quick & easy to prepare
Ingredients for Easy Vegan Cashew Cream Cheese
The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.
To make the cheese, you will need:
- raw cashews
- refined coconut oil
- fresh lemon juice
To keep the flavor of the cream cheese neutral, opt for refined coconut oil (it has no scent). Coconut flavor is delicious ifthe plan is to use the cream cheese in a sweet recipe, but not necessarily ideal for spreading on bagels :).
I recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt, too, but it is your call regarding how much to add, or whether you wish to add it at all.
You can also add 1 to 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast for an additional umami-cheesey flavor.
Step By Step Instructions
Back to the recipe! It’s easy.
Step One: Quick-Soak the Cashews
Soak the cashews in boiling water for about 20 minutes. The cashews will be very soft after this brief soak. Drain off the water.
Step Two: Blend the Cashews
Add the drained cashews, coconut oil and lemon juice to a high-speed blender and blend away!
Be patient with the blending. It will look like there is not enough liquid in the first minute or two. But keep at it. Stop and scrape the blender sides and bottom often. Soon, the creaminess of the soaked cashews will meld with the lemon juice and coconut oil, producing a thick, smooth cheese.
Step Three: Season to Taste
Taste the cheese and adjust the salt and lemon juice to taste. The cream cheese is ready to use as a spread, although it is best when chilled for several hours.
Alternatively, pack the cheese into container(s) or mold(s) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Once cold, the cream cheese will hold the shape of the mold, but will still be soft enough to spread.
I’ll be posting some easy vegan cream cheese Holiday eats and treats in the weeks to come. Until then, enjoy this delectable cheese any way you choose.
How Should the Cheese Be Stored?
Store the cream cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Freezing is not recommended.
Long-Soak or Quick-Soak the Cashews
If you prefer, soak the cashews in 2 cups cold water, at room temperature for 8 hours instead of using the quick soak method. Drain and rinse before using. I do not recommend soaking the cashews for longer than 8 hours (they can turn slimy).
Do I Have to Use Coconut Oil?
If you want the cream cheese to be firmly set, coconut oil is necessary.
The coconut oil–which becomes solid when cold–helps to set the cream cheese and give it a firm-smooth texture. Subbing an oil that remains liquid when cold will result in a very soft cream cheese.
Any Alternatives for the Lemon Juice?
Apple cider vinegar (or any other light-colored, mild vinegar) can be used in place of the lemon juice. Take a look at my recipe notes regarding how much to add.
More Delicious & Easy Vegan Cheese Recipes to Try:
- Cashew Cheddar Cheese
- Chickpea Flour Feta Cheese
- Chickpea Flour Cheddar Cheese
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Vegetable Nacho Cheese Dip
- Vegan Cashew Boursin Cheese
- Chickpea Flour Queso
- Chipotle Cheese Bread Bites
Tuesday 19th of July 2022
Love that idea... just got diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroid disorder, so I am new to paleo, but am feeling so much better already. If I want to use cashew butter instead, will that work?
Saturday 23rd of July 2022
Hi Marita! Alas, not, it needs to be raw cashews. When they are soaked and blended, they have a taste and texture like cream. Once they are roasted, the cashews are different in taste and texture.
Thursday 21st of October 2021
. . . Just luvvv your site . . . wonder if this can be frozen?
Thursday 28th of October 2021
Hi Glo! Thank you thank you! I can speak from experience about freezing this, as I had some that I had made and was heading out of town, so I decided to try freezing it. It came out OK but the texture was sort of weird after defrosting. However, I was able to bring it back to life by re-blending it with a handmixer. So… You technically can freeze it. But it will require some reworking after defrosting :-)
Cashew Cream Cheese – Cook Real Food
Friday 31st of July 2020
[…] adapted from power hungry: easy cashew cream cheese […]
Wednesday 26th of February 2020
Hello! What can replace coconut oil with?
Saturday 4th of February 2023
@Camilla, Non-hydrogenated palm oil would likely work since it is solid at room temp.
Wednesday 26th of February 2020
It's hard to say exactly, since the coconut oil helps to solidify the cheese (since coconut oil is firm when cold). If you are ok with a softer set cream cheese, I would just leave it out and instead add 1 to 3 tablespoons of the nondairy milk of your choice. It will still be quite firm and thick!