Vegan Cream Cheese

This Vegan Cream Cheese recipe is infused with the mild, but tangy flavor you’ve come to love and a thick, creamy texture. This cashew cream cheese recipe is easy to make with minimal ingredients and will keep you coming back for more!

A bagel is cut in half and has vegan cream cheese in the middle. There are more bagels behind it with a bowl of more vegan cream cheese.
Many recipes call for probiotics to make fermented cheese, but this one uses a more simple process.
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I’ve been making cashew cream for quite awhile, years actually. It began in 2012 with these Cashew Cream Stuffed Strawberries. I was fascinated at the time with a raw diet, and using cashews to create cream cheese is popular with raw food.

However, the stuff has a consistency that’s too thin and runny to make as a stand-alone vegan cream cheese. You know, the kind that could be spread over a bagel? Yes, this vegan cream cheese recipe took a little more work.

How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese

This dairy free cream cheese recipe is soft, mild-tasting and easy to make. It begins with cashews. Now, you can easily add water and soak the cashews overnight. That will keep this recipe 100% raw.

However, if you’re like me, I don’t always have the patience for that kind of thing. In that case, heat up the water in the microwave and pour it over the cashews.

Here are the vegan cream cheese ingredients: cashews, water, nutritional yeast flakes, coconut oil,

A pyrex measuring cup full of hot water is being poured over raw cashews.

Place a plate over the top and let the cashews sit in the hot water for about an hour. This will help soften the cashews, preparing them to be processed in the food processor.

Most raw food advocates suggest that food must be cooked in temperatures lower than 105F and this hot water will probably be more like 120F. So that means this is not technically raw cashew cream cheese, but it’s close.

A bowl of raw cashews has been filled mostly with water. A pyrex measuring cup is finishing up pouring water over it.

Once the cashews are good and soaked, pour them into a strainer to drain the water. Place a few paper towels on a plate and pour the cashews on the plate. Use a few more paper towels to pat the cashews dry.

The cashews don’t have to be completely dry, but just devoid of excessive moisture.

Place patted dry cashews in a food processor bowl, along with nutritional yeast flakes, vegan yogurt, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt. plain vegan yogurt, and salt.

Cashews and other ingredients are in the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse for several seconds. Next, use a spatula to scrape down any ingredients from the side of the bowl. Then pulse again. Repeat this until a nice, smooth consistency is reached. This may take up to 3 – 5 minutes.

Transfer the cashew cream cheese into a sealable container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Then you’re ready to begin spreading this lovely homemade vegan cream cheese on your favorite bagels!

A bagel has been cut in half and has cashew cream cheese in the middle. There are more bagels behind it and a bowl of more vegan cream cheese.

Is Cream Cheese Vegan?

Unfortunately, most cream cheese is not vegan. It’s made from cow milk based dairy. However, you can buy vegan cream cheese, such as Tofutti, and Daiya. There are more vegan cream cheese brands all the time!

Fermented Cashew Cheese

There are many was to arrive at fermented vegan cheese. Some recipes require adding probiotics to the cashew mixture, then allowing it to sit at room temperature to let the magic happen. That’s fine and all, but I was looking for a process that was a bit easier.

That’s where adding a bit of vegan unflavored yogurt comes in. This recipe takes advantage of the already cultured bacteria from the yogurt, and it works!

There are many plain vegan yogurts these days. Here are my favorites for this recipe:

  • Nancy’s Oat Yogurt worked perfectly! I bought it at Sprouts.
  • Forager Cashew Yogurt is great too, and full of health probiotics. I bought it at Natural Grocers.
  • SoDelicious Plain Coconut Yogurt works well here too. I’m usually able to find this at the health food section of my local grocery store, Natural Grocers, and Sprouts.

Why do we want fermented cheese? Because it’s that fermentation that gives cream cheese its kind of tangy, wonky flavor that keeps us coming back for more! It’s distinctive and delicious.

Are Cashews Healthy?

This cultured cashew cheese recipe is packed with whole food ingredients, including cashews. But are cashews healthy? The good news, like most plant-based ingredients, cashews are loaded with nutrients.

Sometimes it’s worth noting what something is not. For example, cashews are replacing cow’s milk fat in this vegan cream cheese substitute. Whereas cow’s milk has cholesterol and saturated fats, cashews do not. In fact, some studies have shown that cashews can reduce blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease (see link above).

Expert Tips

Use these expert tips to make this vegan cashew cream cheese perfect every time:

  • You can soak cashews overnight or use my process for fast soaking (although that means it’s no longer technically raw at this point
  • This recipe uses plain yogurt to create fermented cashew cheese. This is what gives the cashews the tangy flavor we come to love in cream cheese.
  • You can use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil instead of two, but the cultured vegan cheese won’t be as firm
  • Because this is a vegan substitute for cream cheese, you can also add other favorite add-ins, such as garlic, or even berries to spread on bagels or toast
  • See my tips above for the types of yogurt to use for this recipe.
Looking down on a plate with a bagel cut in half. One half has vegan cream cheese over the top of it. There's another bagel behind the plate and a bowl with more cream cheese.

I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!

One of a bagel has vegan cream cheese smeared over the top.

Vegan Cream Cheese

Make this simple vegan cream cheese recipe to use as a spread on bagels or crackers! This versatile recipe makes a great ingredient for other recipes, like cream cheese frosting!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Cream Cheese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 114kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (use refined)
  • 1/4 cup vegan yogurt (plain, not vanilla)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional Add-Ins

  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped green onions

Instructions

  • Heat 2 cups of water in a microwave until simmering, approximately 3 minutes. Pour hot water over raw cashews in small mixing bowl. Soak raw cashews in hot water for at least 1 hour.
  • Once soaked, drain cashews and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  • Add cashews, coconut oil, yogurt, vinegar, nutritional yeast flakes, and salt to a blender. Pulse for several seconds. Then use a spatula to push down ingredients from the side of the bowl and pulse again. Repeat until smooth.
  • Pour into a sealable container and stir in any add-ins you prefer. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Serve over bagels or crackers. Or use it as an ingredient in other recipes that call for cream cheese. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month.

Enjoy!

Updated by Marly · Permalink