Quick and simple vegan 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!
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.
To make it, you will need 2 cups of raw cashews, 1/4 cup coconut oil, and 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. 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.
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 :).
Note, too, that 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.
One more note on subbing: 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.
Back to the recipe! It’s easy. First soak the cashews in boiling water for about 20 minutes and drain. Next, add the cashews and remaining ingredients 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.
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.
Quick and simple vegan 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!
- 2 cups (8 oz/224 g) raw cashews
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) refined coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (more or less to taste)
- Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- Place the cashews in a large glass bowl. Add 4 cups (1 L) boiling water. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes until very plump. Drain and rinse the cashews.
- In a high-speed blender process the cashews, coconut oil, lemon juice, salt and (optional) nutritional yeast.
- Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of container multiple times until the mixture is very smooth and creamy-looking (be patient, this will take a good amount of stopping, starting, and scraping—at least 3 to 5 minutes).
- Pack the cheese into an airtight storage container. If planning to mold the cheese, pack it in 2 rectangular dishes that have been lined with plastic wrap; firmly enclose with the wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours until cold and firm.
- Use the cream cheese as a spread or in no-bake recipes of all kinds that call for cream cheese.
Storage: Store the cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Freezing is not recommended.
Lemon Juice Sub: 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar + 1 tablespoon of water can be used in place of the lemon juice.
Overnight Soaking: 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).
- Category: Cheese
- Method: Blending
- Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
- Calories: 68
- Sugar: 0.5 g
- Sodium: 43.6 mg
- Fat: 6 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 1.8 g
- Fiber: 0.4 g
- Protein: 1.8 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: vegan cheese, plant-based, cream cheese, cheese, dairy-free, vegan, paleo, soy-free