This is the best Vegan Ricotta recipe because it’s so simple to make (it’s ready in 30 minutes) and tastes so much better than anything you’ll buy in the store. Besides, if you’re looking for dairy-free ricotta, that’s not always easy to find in the store. Make this recipe at home instead — it’s creamy, savory, and delicious!
Italian food is always an easy, go-to favorite in our household. But sometimes it’s hard to find vegan replacements for some of your favorite dishes. For example, ricotta is a common ingredient for vegan lasagna. It’s not as if you can go and buy a dairy-free ricotta cheese at the local grocery store.
Of course, there are brands that make vegan ricotta these days (such as Tofutti), but I’ve only been able to find that at health food stores. And, if that’s not a viable option for you, or if you want to simply make your own homemade ricotta, this is the recipe for you. In fact, this vegan ricotta is so good, you can serve it as a dip. I even add it to salads.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Cashews add great texture and flavor to this plant-based ricotta
- Using lemon juice adds tanginess to mimic the classic flavor of ricotta
- Adding garlic transforms this savory ingredient into something truly special
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 key ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe:
- Raw cashews — You can buy raw cashews at many grocery stores and health food stores, or even online
- Extra-firm tofu — We’ll use tofu to give this dish a creamy consistency
- Lemon juice — Use either freshly squeezed lemon juice or bottled
- Nutritional yeast flakes — This vegan favorite adds a nutty, cheesy flavor to so many recipes
- Garlic — You’ll only need one clove to make this for savory dishes. If you’re using ricotta for a dessert, leave the garlic out
- Salt — Finally, a little bit of salt will add depth of flavor.
How to Make Vegan Ricotta Cheese
- Soak the cashews — Wondering how to soak cashews? Simply cover the cashews with water and soak them for 2 hours or up to overnight. Then drain the soaking water.
- Combine ingredients — Add the soaked cashews, tofu, and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender jar.
- Pulse until creamy — Give your blender (or food processor) several quick bursts. Then use a silicone spatula to push any ingredients from the side of the bowl back to the bottom. Then pulse again. Continue with this process until you’ve got nice, creamy ricotta. Go ahead and add a little water to get a spreadable consistency.
Ricotta Cheese Substitute
When you want a tasty substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna, this cashew ricotta is the only one you need.
If you’re skeptical of how a vegan ricotta cheese recipe would work, just think about what dairy ricotta is. Ricotta is not technically “cheese,” but the byproduct of cheese-making. The whey that remains after making cheese is coagulated (thickened) and that’s ricotta.
It’s a similar process for tofu. Extra-firm tofu is made from coagulated soy milk, which is one reason it’s an excellent ingredient for a ricotta cheese substitute.
Use these tips to make this non-dairy ricotta substitute perfect every time:
- Be sure to used soaked cashews to make your ricotta good and creamy
- The lemon juice adds a tangy flavor
- You may need to add a little bit of water to create a desirable consistency
- This mixture will thicken as it sits in the fridge, so you can make it the day before your lasagna or other recipes
- You can substitute 1–3 cloves of garlic confit for the raw garlic
- If you are using this ricotta for a dessert recipe, be sure to leave out the garlic
Yes, this is typically a ricotta substitute, meaning you would use it as an ingredient in some other recipe. However, it’s tasty enough to be served on its own. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, add some fresh herbs on top and serve it with crostini, or pita chips.
To store this vegan ricotta, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can be frozen for up to a month, but the texture may not be as smooth. However, it will still work in a ricotta layer for lasagna or other Italian dishes.
Vegan Italian Recipes
Now that you’ve got your easy ricotta recipe, you’ll want to use it in some awesome vegan Italian recipes. Here’s a list to start with:
Vegan Zucchini Lasagna
- 1 cup cashews , soaked in water 2 – 4 hours
- 15 oz extra firm tofu
- ½ cup water
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 clove garlic , peeled and sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 medium zucchini (8 ounces each)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced onions
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups veggie crumbles
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 cups vegan mozzarella shreds
For the Vegan Ricotta
- To soak the cashews, cover them with water and soak for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. Then drain the soaking water.
- Drain the water from the tub of tofu. There's no need to press the tofu.
- Combine soaked cashews, tofu, water, lemon juice, yeast flakes, garlic, and salt in a blender or food processor. Pulse several seconds to combine. Use a spatula to push down ingredients from the side of the bowl. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until a spreadable consistency is achieved. It should take no more than 1/4 cup of water.
- Storage: You can store this in the fridge for 3–5 days, or freeze for up to 1 month to use in lasagna.
For the Zucchini Lasagna
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
- Cut the ends off the zucchini and slice into ⅛" thickness. You can use a mandoline or a kitchen knife to cut zucchini. Place them on a pan and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes until they release their juices. Use a paper towel or kitchen towel to blot the moisture on the zucchini. Place the pan in the heated oven for 10 minutes.
- Add oil to a skillet over medium heat and cook until shimmering. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Add the veggie crumbles and garlic and cook for another minute, until heated through.
- Add the tomatoes and basil and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes until it thickens.
- Spread about ½ cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×9 casserole dish. Add one layer of zucchini strips on top. Spread half of the ricotta cheese over the noodles, followed by ½ cup of vegan mozzarella shreds. Repeat this process until you run out of ingredients, ending with mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then use tongs to remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let the dish sit for approximately 10 minutes before serving.
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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.