This vegan cream cheese recipe is the best recipe there is! It's made with five simple ingredients, including one surprise ingredient, and tastes like perfection.
I love how you can easily customize this vegan cream cheese substitute to mimic all the flavors of traditional cream cheese. From strawberry to veggie and even adding spices to make it your own!
This post was originally published on March 14, 2020.
Cream cheese is such a good flavor! It's perfect for sweets, like my vegan cream cheese frosting, and can even be used as a spread on sandwiches or mixed into dips.
Is Cream Cheese Vegan?
Usually no. Traditional cream cheese is made from milk and cream, as well as stabilizers for the commercially produced kinds. Thankfully there are a number of store bought options for vegan cream cheese, which you can read about in this guide for Dairy Free Alternatives.
However, making your own homemade vegan cream cheese is super easy to do! It tastes great, and is made with only whole food plan based ingredients, no stabilizers or weird added ingredients here!
The super simple ingredients you need to make this vegan cream cheese recipe include:
- Raw cashews
- Plain dairy free yogurt
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Sea salt
How To Make Vegan Cream Cheese
This is a really quick and easy recipe to make!
- Process ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Save it in an airtight container for any time you need it!
- You can even add in things like chopped veggies or spices to mix it up.
The best thing about this recipe for vegan cream cheese is that you can add so many different kinds of add ins! The key with add ins is to make sure you aren't adding in more moisture or the texture will change.
If you want fruit, add freeze dried fruit versus fresh or frozen. If you want veggies, stick to hard low moisture picks.
Here are three vegan cream cheese flavors we love and make most often:
- Berry cream cheese: Add in between 1 - 1 ½ cups freeze dried berries of choice.
- Scallion cream cheese: Add in about ½ - 1 cup sliced green onions.
- Veggie cream cheese: Add in about ½ - 1 cup finely chopped veggies that are low in moisture like carrots, peppers, onions, etc.
More mix in ideas
Here are some other ideas if you want to play around!
- Herbs like parsley, thyme, cilantro
- Sugar for sweetness
- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, ginger
- Chopped nuts
- Sun dried tomatoes or roasted peppers
- Jalapeños or chipotle peppers
- Vegan Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese
I love using this dairy free cream cheese both as is, and in recipes. Here are some of my favorite ways to use it:
- Smeared on bagels or english muffins with jam
- A dip for crackers and veggies like celery sticks
- Using it instead of mayo on a sandwich
- Putting it in pasta sauce to make it creamy
- Frosting for cupcakes or cakes
- Making a cookie sandwich
- Mixing it in a smoothie
- Mixing it in soup
- As a crepe filling
- Swirling it in these vegan brownies
- Mixing it into ice cream
Here are a few more suggestions to get the best results with this vegan cream cheese recipe:
- Make sure you soak your cashews as this helps with the overall texture.
- If you forget to soak them, you could boil the cashews for about 30 minutes.
- You can also substitute the cashews for blanched slivered almonds instead.
- A food processor will work better than a blender since there is such little liquid in the recipe.
- You will need to stop and scrape down the sides every few minutes. This will take about 5-10 minutes depending on how good your processor is.
- This stores really well in the fridge in an air tight container for about 7 days.
- Freeze in a freezer safe container, and put a layer of plastic over the top of the cream cheese touching the surface. This helps reduce the ice crystals that form.
- Note that if you freeze it, the texture after you defrost it will be a bit less fluffy and more firm.
- When ready to use, slowly defrost on the counter and give it a good mix.
There are many ways you can make a dairy free cream cheese. The base is usually some kind of nut mixed with a few other ingredients. Some of the regulars you see out there include; nut base (usually cashews or almonds), vinegar, lemon juice and salt.
For this vegan cream cheese recipe, I used cashews as the base (with an option to sub with slivered almonds). To get that whipped fluffy texture and add to the creaminess and tang, I used a plain dairy free yogurt. I loved adding the yogurt instead of more liquid because it kept it nice and fluffy!
I also added a mix of lemon juice and distilled white vinegar. The combination of these two gave the perfect tang. With the cashews and the creamy yogurt it created a dairy free cream cheese to die for!
It depends what you put in it! The base of this recipe has the familiar creamy texture and slightly tangy taste. You can mix in a number of ingredients to make it more flavorful, either sweet or savory!
It really depends on what you are using it for. Cream cheese adds a creamy texture to whatever recipe you're making.
A good substitute for cream cheese as a spread is hummus or avocado since they have similar textures.
If you need it in a recipe try Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce, yogurt, thick dairy-free milk, or silken tofu.
When it comes to healthy, it really depends on what that means to you. If you are avoiding dairy, like you would be if you are here looking for plant-based recipes, then the ideas I gave above are great alternatives.
More Vegan Cheese Recipes
You have that classic recipe that calls for cheese, but you're living that plant based life, what to do?! Try any of these dairy-free cheese recipes:
The Best Recipe for Vegan Cream Cheese
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews , soaked overnight then rinsed, drained and dried well (see note)
- ½ cup plain dairy free yogurt , there are many brands but the tangier they are the better
- 4 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For Berry Cream Cheese:
- 1 - 1 ½ cups freeze dried berries of choice
For Veggie Cream Cheese:
- ½ - 1 cup finely chopped veggies of choice , make sure to use low moisture veggies like carrots, peppers, onions, etc to preserve the texture
- Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until creamy and smooth. Make sure that your cashews are dried as it’s easy to get extra water into the mix and change the overall texture.
- This may take up to 10 minutes depending on your processor. Stop every few minutes to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- If you are adding freeze dried fruit add it at the start for a smooth result and towards the end if you want it with chunks. If you are adding veggies, add them in at the end and pulse to incorporate.
- When done, store in an air tight container in the fridge and enjoy! It will firm up the colder it gets.
- If you forget to soak your cashews, you could boil them for about 30 minutes.
- You can also use blanched slivered almonds.
- This makes about 1 ¾ cup. Serving size is ¼ cup.
- Nutrition facts are for plain version only.
- Soak cashews.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
What can be used instead of lemon juice? I'm allergic to all citrus products
Hi Laura! You can try using white vinegar. It may give you a slightly different kind of tartness but it should work ok. Maybe start with a little less. Let me know how it goes!
Perfection! So far have tried the plain, looking forward to trying different flavors next!
OMG this was so perfect! I will be making ALL the dips with this!
I love that you really focus on the tang as well as the creaminess. What brand of yogurt have you found to work best with this recipe? Thank you!
Hi Alina! The yogurt I find to be the most tangy is one called Culina. It reminds me of traditional greek yogurt. But since you are using this in a recipe other plain yogurts will work!
Yum! So good. Thank you!! I made it exactly as directed, and added diced fine carrots, red pepper and scallion. Had to put it in the fridge quick, as the urge to eat it all right away was too great...
I am so happy you liked it Sylvia!! Yay! Thank you so much for the great review!
Love all these staples you've been posting recently.
First, you’re the best!
Second, I have a ninja blender so am I better off to powder the cashews first then blend with everything?
Hi Lori!!! Awe! You're the best too!! I would probably grind the cashews first. The ninja isn't super strong like a Vitamix. You could try soaking them, it probably would do ok for that. But if you have a grinder I'd do that!
I love all your recipes, best fan here!!! 🙂 Could you please recommend a non dairy plain yogurt that work? I don't have many option to buy near me (no Whole Foods or Trader's) and I tried one So Delicious coconut, I think, but I don't like coconut texture in yogurt. Do you think this cream cheese could work with macadamias? (1/3 of the amount, for instance?)Thanks!
Hi Olga!! Thank you so so much!! As for the yogurt, there are loads of brands, Kite Hill, Forager, So Delicious almond or soy instead of coconut and many other brands. I would take a look at what your local store has. It's really the tang and texture you are needing so many will work. As for the macadamias, you will get some of the flavor come through in the end result but that may not be a bad thing! If you like the flavor give it a shot! Let me know how it goes!
Is it possible to use a silken soft tofu plus miso in place of dairy free yogurt? If so, what measurements would you recommend?
Hi Kimberly! I haven't tried that so I can't say what the result would be. You can most certainly try! I'd just keep the total amount the same as the yogurt to start. But again, I haven't tried it so I don't know if it would work.
Thank you so much! You told me it would be on your list and here it is! With COVID-19, we are packed in tight and I’m “rationing the good nuts.” So, I’ll have to wait until this situation blows over to give this recipe a whirl. But again, thanks so much for tinkering around for me!
You are SO welcome Kristina! I also added that you can sub slivered almonds as well. I like the cashews better but the almonds work too. Also, you could make this to spread on bagels and such for breakfast but also use it as a sub for things like sour cream in my enchiladas recipe, etc!
I spent my high school and college years working in a bagel shop. Fear not! I have a TON of plans for this this cream cheese. Thanks for the slivered almond tip!