Dairy-Free Cheesecake Recipe

This dairy-free cheesecake recipe is an ultra-smooth cheesecake made without dairy and with a surprise ingredient. It’s paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, making it undeniably delicious. You’ll love that the creamy filling is made without dairy cream cheese.

Looking for more creamy dairy-free desserts? Try this smooth and delightful Vegan Creme Brûlée or this Vegan Flan.

A slice of dairy free cheesecake sits on a white plate with berry sauce drizzled over the top.

Obviously, I’ve already proven that you can make a delicious cheesecake vegan. In fact, I’ve made a lot of vegan cheesecakes in my tenure as a secular vegan.

I love to reiterate my version of veganism. It’s a passionate and compassionate attitude toward my vegan life. Because I love being vegan, but I don’t embrace a rigidness about my diet. I get more into this in my post on 10 Ways to be Vegan.

So, one of my favorite vegan cheesecakes is my Vegan New York Cheesecake. I love this one so much! In fact, I morphed it into my Vegan Oreo Cheesecake.

But then it dawned on me; there may be folks that have issues that are lactose intolerant. They’re not necessarily vegan, but they’d love to have a dairy-free cheesecake recipe. What’s the difference? I skipped the vegan cream cheese in this recipe.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Chickpeas add texture without using tofu to make this dairy-free cheesecake firm and delicious
  • Adding vegan meringue creates a light and fluffy texture
  • Using a buttery graham cracker crust makes every bite absolutely delicious!

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Graham Cracker Crust — You’ll need graham crackers, brown sugar, and coconut oil for the crust. There’s no doubt that a vegan graham cracker crust is the best foundation for any cheesecake. You can make a gluten-free and dairy-free cheesecake by using gluten-free graham crackers or cookies.
  • Chickpeas — You’ll need a 15-ounce can of chickpeas.
  • Sugar
  • Cream of tartar — A bit of cream of tartar added to the meringue acts as a stabilizer.
  • Cashews — I buy raw cashews in the produce section of my grocery store, health food stores (you can buy in bulk at Sprouts and Natural Grocers) or online.
  • Tofu — Here you can use either silken tofu or soft tofu. Here’s more about how to buy tofu.
  • Coconut milk — Look for full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream.
  • Flour — We’ll add all-purpose flour to thicken the filling. Use gluten-free baking flour to make yours gluten-free.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Lemon juice — You can use fresh-squeezed or bottled.
  • Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the berry sauce. See my recipe for blueberry sauce as a guide.
  • Mixed berries — Use fresh or frozen mixed berries.

Ingredient Spotlight

A photograph of canned chickpeas or garbanzo beans

What Chickpeas are Best for Cheesecake?

Chickpeas, also referred to as garbanzo beans, is a legume that is most often used in savory dishes to make things like hummus or falafel. They are mildly flavored and so therefore can be used for sweet recipes as well. Take for example this chickpea cookie dough. You can cook dried chickpeas, but for this recipe a can of regular chickpeas (not low sodium) works best. We’ll be using both the beans themselves and the liquid from the can, referred to as aquafaba. Because of its high-protein content, aquafaba can be used to make an egg-free meringue.

How to Make Dairy-Free Cheesecake

  1. Make the graham cracker crust by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor and pressing them into a springform pan.
  2. Make vegan meringue by beating with an electric mixer until frothy and then adding sugar and whipping until stiff peaks form.
  3. Pulse the chickpeas, sugar, cashews, tofu, and coconut milk in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
  4. Stir together the chickpea mixture, vanilla, and lemon juice in the mixing bowl with the fluffy meringue mixture and pour it into your prepared crust.
  5. Bake the cheesecake for 60 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for up to another hour (or until it’s cooled).
  6. Refrigerate the cheesecake for another hour before serving.
  7. Prepare the berry sauce by combining the ingredients in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil, then reduce and simmer until it thickens.
  8. Serve each slice with the berry sauce.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions.

Step One Make the Graham Cracker Crust

The crust has been pressed into the bottom of the pan.
  1. Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse, crumbly flour. Add the coconut oil and pulse for another second or two to combine.
  2. Press the crumb crust into a 9″ springform pan. Distribute evenly across the bottom and up a little on the sides of the pan. Set aside.

Step Two: Make Vegan Meringue

Meringue is used in baking to create a lighter texture. Here are more details about I go into more about the steps of making vegan meringue in another post.

A mixing bowl shows how fluffy vegan meringue can be.

I created a meringue to make this cheesecake recipe light and fluffy.

Step Three: Make the Cheesecake Filling

The ingredients for vegan cheesecake are in the bottom of a food processor.
  1. Place the chickpeas from the can of chickpeas, sugar, raw cashews, tofu, and coconut milk in a food processor. Pulse for several seconds to break down the cashews. Open the lid and stir down any ingredients that might have risen to the top. Pulse for several seconds, up to a minute until smooth and creamy.
  2. Combine the chickpea mixture, vanilla, and lemon juice in the mixing bowl with the fluffy meringue mixture. Stir until just combined. Pour into your prepared crust.
  3. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil, being sure to cover the entire bottom. Place this in a roasting pan and pour water around the bottom of the pan. This is a water bath, and it will prevent the cheesecake from cracking in the middle. See more on water baths below.
  4. Bake your cheesecake for 60 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for up to another hour (or until it’s cooled). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before placing in the fridge. I recommend letting the cheesecake cool for at least four hours (or even a full day before slicing and serving.
Raw cheesecake is in a pan wrapped with aluminum foil.

Step Four: Prepare the Berry Sauce

  1. Prepare the berry sauce by combining the cornstarch, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Add the berries and bring to a boil Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minute or two until a thick sauce forms. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and cool. My post on blueberry sauce provides more information on making sauces.
  2. Serve each slice with berry sauce and coconut whipped cream.

Preparing a Water Bath

I like to cook my vegan cheesecake in a water bath. It’s not really that complicated. It just requires wrapping the bottom of the springform pan in aluminum foil and then setting it in a larger pan, like a roasting pan. Then add a couple of cups of water to the roasting pan. That water creates steam in the oven and keeps the cheesecake moist while baking.

That moisture helps prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.

Nobody wants a big crack down the middle of their cheesecake. That said, if your cheesecake cracks, simply put a layer of vegan ganache over the top or put extra berry sauce over any cracks.

Marly’s Tips

  • No need to soak the cashews for this recipe
  • Let the cheesecake bake for the allotted time and then turn the oven off and allow it to sit in the oven as it cools.
  • When you remove it from the oven, let this cheesecake cool and refrigerate before cutting it into slices.
A slice of cheesecake with berry drizzle over the top and more berry topping in a bowl behind it.

Can You Make This Into a Gluten-Free Cheesecake?

You can make this into a gluten-free, dairy-free cheesecake by subbing almond flour or gluten-free baking flour for the flour in the filling. You’ll also want to go crustless or use gluten-free graham cracker crumbs in the crust. It’s nice to have a gluten and dairy-free cheesecake recipe!

For another gluten-free dairy-free option, check out my no-bake Raw Vegan Cheesecake recipe. It’s delicious!

Looking down on plated slices of dairy free cheesecake with berry filling in a bowl between them.

More Vegan Cheesecakes

This dairy-free cheesecake is the best! Here are even more delicious vegan cheesecake options.

A slice of dairy free cheesecake with berry drizzle over the top and more berry topping in a bowl behind it.

Dairy-Free Cheesecake

Forget about the dairy with this delicious dairy-free cheesecake recipe. You'll love the surprise ingredients that keep it interesting in the kitchen. And there are a few steps involved, but it's absolutely worth it! 
5 from 1 vote
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 266kcal

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 ½ cups Graham Crackers 1 packet
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, loosely packed

Vegan Meringue

  • 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Dairy-Free Cheesecake Filling

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 15 oz tub soft tofu
  • 15 oz can full fat coconut milk* (read note below)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Berry Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or agave nectar or maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup mixed berries fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

For the Graham Cracker Crust

  • Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse, crumbly flour. Add the coconut oil and pulse for another second or two to combine.
  • Press the crumb crust into a 9" springform pan. Distribute evenly across the bottom and up a little on the sides of the pan. Set aside.

For the Vegan Meringue:

  • Pour the chickpea liquid into a mixing bowl (reserving the chickpeas for the filling), add the cream of tartar, and mix over medium-high speed until frothy, about one minute.
  • Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between each addition. Continue mixing on medium speed until peaks begin to form. Set aside.

For the Fluffy Dairy-free Cheesecake Filling:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • Place the chickpeas from the can of chickpeas, sugar, raw cashews, tofu, and coconut milk in a food processor. Pulse for several seconds to break down the cashews. Open the lid and stir down any ingredients that might have risen to the top. Pulse for several seconds, up to a minute until smooth and creamy.
  • Combine the chickpea mixture, vanilla, and lemon juice in the mixing bowl with the fluffy meringue mixture. Stir until just combined. Pour into your prepared crust.
  • Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil, being sure to cover the entire bottom. Place this in a roasting pan and pour water around the bottom of the pan. This is a water bath, and it will prevent the cheesecake from cracking in the middle.
  • Bake your cheesecake for 60 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for up to another hour (or until it's cooled). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before placing in the fridge. I recommend letting the cheesecake cool for at least four hours (or even a full day before slicing and serving.

For the Berry Sauce:

  • Prepare the berry sauce by combining the cornstarch, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Add the berries and bring to a boil Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minute or two until a thick sauce forms. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and cool. My post on blueberry sauce provides more information on making sauces.
  • Serve each slice with berry sauce and coconut whipped cream.

Recommended Equipment

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Notes

*I used Coconut Cream from Trader Joe’s and/or Sprouts because it’s rich and mostly cream. Whatever kind of coconut milk you use, make sure it’s a kind with a lot of fat. It helps if you refrigerate the can before making this recipe because the fat will solidify and you can easily drain the liquid.  If there’s a lot of liquid, you will want to drain the liquid and use that liquid in a smoothie or some other recipe.
**It’s not necessary to soak cashews for this recipe.
If you don’t have agar flakes, feel free to replace them with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
 
Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 135mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 1.9mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1.3mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

Celebrate National Cheesecake Day!

On National Cheesecake Day you can celebrate with more than my non-dairy cheesecake. Celebrating is important! Want to join me? Well, I’ve joined with some awesome food bloggers to share with you a whole host of the best cheesecake recipes. I’m sure somewhere in here you’ll find a favorite recipe to help you celebrate, too.

Just a note of caution. Not all of these recipes are vegan. Some may not even be vegetarian. If you need help veganizing any of these cheesecake recipes, just send me a note. I’ll be happy to help.

A collage of cheesecake photos with the words: Mouthwatering Cheesecake Recipes.

Delicious Cheesecake Recipes:

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberries

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake by Ashlee Marie

Cheesecake Brownies from Creations by Kara

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes by Pretty Providence

Cherry Cheesecake Popsicles by the Crumb Blog

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Instant Pot Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake by Savory Experiments

Coconut Key Lime Cheesecake Bars by Real Mom Kitchen

No Bake Berry Cheesecake Parfait thanks to An Italian in my Kitchen

Vegan Raw Berry Cheesecake

Cappuccino Cheesecake from Simply Stacie

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake in Jars by Premeditated Leftovers

No Bake Vanilla Cheesecake Mousse from the Baker Upstairs

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake thanks to Super Golden Bakes

Whatever cheesecake you’re celebrating with, enjoy!

2 Responses to Dairy-Free Cheesecake Recipe

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyIsadora Guidoni Reply

    5 stars
    You said dairy-free, you definetly have my attention, hahah. This recipe looks delicious, I’ll sure make it over the weekend!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Isadora! I think we must be kindred spirits! I was looking for a different way to make vegan cheesecake. I wanted one that used chickpeas, believe it or not, and this recipe just blew me away! And my family liked it so much, so I had to share it. Hope you love it too! ❤️

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