This Dairy-Free Cheesecake recipe is an ultra-smooth cheesecake made without dairy and with a surprise ingredient. This easy cheesecake is paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, making it undeniably delicious. You’ll love that the creamy filling is made without dairy cream cheese. This cheesecake is loved by everyone and features a fruit topping!
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.
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.
How to Make Dairy-Free Cheesecake
Let’s go into the process I use to make this lactose intolerant cheesecake. It begins with a vegan meringue. I go into the steps of making vegan meringue in another post. The surprise ingredient I use to make a dairy-free meringue? Chickpeas.
I know. I know. It sounds strange. But you have to trust me on this. It works!
I created a meringue to make this cheesecake recipe light and fluffy.
Three Interesting Ingredients
There are three ingredients in this recipe that you may find either strange to use in a cheesecake or unusual (something you may not have either heard of or worked with before). These are:
- chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans)
- agar agar flakes
- xanthan gum
There is a purpose to each of these ingredients, and it works to help create a perfect cheesecake.
Dairy Free Graham Cracker Crust
The first step is to make a graham cracker crust. You can either use store-bought graham cracker crumbs or make your own. I use a food processor for this step. The ingredients are:
- graham crackers
- coconut oil
Keeping it pretty simple here. Sure, you could add some additional sugar, but I find the slightly sweet taste of graham crackers to be enough. Add more sugar if that suits you. The one thing I know is I like a nice, thick graham cracker crust.
The next step is to make the vegan cashew cheesecake recipe filling. Here are the ingredients involved:
- Chickpeas — It’s an unusual ingredient but it works and we’ll be using the whole can (even the liquid)
- Cream of tartar — We’ll add this to the liquid from the chickpeas to create a meringue
- Xanthan gum — This helps stabilize the meringue
- Cashews (not soaked) — Cashews add flavor, texture, and healthy fats
- Tofu — I’m calling for “soft tofu” which could mean using silken tofu or any tofu labeled soft
- Full Fat Coconut Milk — look for a can with 12–15 grams of fat
- All-purpose flour — We’ll use flour as a thickener
- Vanilla — A little vanilla flavor adds a nice touch
- Lemon juice — A splash of citrus brings out the flavors of this cheesecake!
Here are the steps involved in making the easy cheesecake filling.
It begins with the liquid from a can of chickpeas. It’s an unusual first step, I know. But what we’re doing here is creating a meringue (see tips above).
Once the meringue is done, set it aside. Then combine the other coconut milk cheesecake filling ingredients, including the actual chickpeas from the can, in a food processor.
Next, pulse until everything is nice and creamy. That may take up to a minute of processing. Once it’s smooth, pour it into the bowl with the meringue and stir to combine.
There you have it. Dairy-free cheesecake filling.
Preparing a Water Bath
I like to cook my vegan cheesecake cashew filling 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!
Expert Tips for Dairy-Free Cheesecake
Use these tips and tricks to make this creamy cheesecake perfect every time:
- I use coconut cream in a can from either Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. It needs to be mostly thick, creamy, coconut fat.
- No need to soak the cashews for this recipe
- If you don’t have agar agar flakes for the berry sauce, use cornstarch instead.
- 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.
Finally, make the berry sauce to spread over the top of this non-dairy cheesecake recipe. Here are the ingredients I used:
- agar agar flakes
- agave nectar
- mixed berries
I used agar agar flakes, a variety of sea vegetable that creates a jello-like consistency. You can use it in place of gelatin in your recipes. I love working with it!
That said, if you don’t have any agar agar, feel free to replace it with two tablespoons of cornstarch. Just be sure to mix it with the water before bringing it to a boil. Then add the fruit and remove from heat. I like to have the berry sauce be a little on the thick side, which is why the agar flakes work so perfectly.
Can you make this into a gluten-free cheese cake?
You can make this into a gluten-free, dairy-free cheesecake by subbing almond flour for the flour in the filling. You’ll also want to either 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!
Be sure to scroll past the recipe for a fun surprise!
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1½ cups Graham Crackers 1 packet
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
Vegan Cheesecake Filling
- 15 oz can of chickpeas
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 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
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 Fluffy Dairy-free Cheesecake Filling:
- Turn your oven to 350°F.
- In a food processor, add 1/2-cup sugar and pulse for several seconds to break it down into a powder. Pour the chickpea liquid into a mixing bowl, add the cream of tartar, and mix over medium-high speed until frothy, about one minute. Then add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between each addition. Continue mixing on medium speed until peaks begin to form. Add the xanthan gum and mix for another few minutes until this mixture resembles marshmallow fluff. Set aside.
- Place the chickpeas from the can of chickpeas, remaining 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 agar agar flakes, agave, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minute or two. Add the berries and stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Serve each slice with Berry Sauce.
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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.
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.
Delicious Cheesecake Recipes:
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
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
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!