This easy non-dairy cream cheese comes together in minutes, although I recommend letting it sit in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld and to improve the texture.
Why you’ll love it
- With just six ingredients, this recipe is super simple to make.
- It’s much cheaper to make and free from the additives and preservatives of processed store-bought vegan or dairy-free cream cheese.
- It’s super tasty and creamy.
- The ingredients are easy to find, nothing strange or difficult to find here.
Ingredients and substitutions
This is such a simple recipe with so few ingredients that there aren’t many substitutions you can make, but check out the photo below to see what you need, and scroll on down below to see what changes or swaps can be made if you’re short on something.
Cashews: Make sure you use raw unsalted cashews, not roasted or fried as they won’t soak and absorb water properly.
Salt: Don’t omit the salt, although you can dial it up or down to taste. If you have issues with sodium, just use a low-sodium or no-sodium brand.
Coconut milk: Coconut milk is crucial here for creaminess, and also adding some firmness. Use high-quality full-fat coconut milk, not coconut cream as it will taste too strongly of coconut, and not reduced-fat coconut milk as you need the coconut fats for firmness and mouth-feel.
Vinegar: Use mild vinegar for tang – white or red wine vinegar is best. As a last resort you can substitute with apple cider vinegar but only use three-quarters of the recipe amount of apple cider vinegar. Amended amounts are given in the recipe card. Do not use distilled white or malt vinegar as they are too strong.
Coconut oil Again, you need coconut oil for texture – as it cools it will get you the perfect spreadable dairy-free cream cheese texture, but be sure to use deodorized coconut oil or your vegan spread will taste very strongly of coconut.
Lemon juice: Again, necessary for taste, tang, and balance. Use the amount specified, and then add to taste if necessary. Most people don’t realize that if your lemons are not very ripe you will need more juice.
How to make it
This is such a simple recipe you don’t really need much help but I have included detailed instructions and process photos below in case you want to check ahead what you need to do, or have any doubts while making it.
What is absolutely crucial is properly soaking your cashews before beginning. There are several different methods, some super fast and some longer.
Properly soaking cashews is important to get your non-dairy cream cheese as smooth as possible, and there are several ways to do so.
- Add cashews to cold water covering them by at least three inches, and bring to a boil then turn off the heat but leave the pot on the stovetop and soak for at least 30 minutes. Two hours would be better, and overnight is optimal. Make sure the water covers the cashews and top up with hot water if needed.
- Soak the cashews in cold water for 5-8 hours minimum.
- Microwave the cashews on full power for two minutes in a bowl with enough water to cover them by at least two inches. Let them sit for at least 20 minutes.
The first method is my preferred one as it gives the smoothest results, especially if you can leave them to soak overnight. Be careful not to oversoak cashews, soak them for only 24 hours maximum as they can become bitter afterward.
Make your non-dairy cream cheese
- Soak your cashews.
- Drain your cashews well and add to a food processor along with the lemon juice, vinegar, melted coconut oil, and salt.
- Process the cashew mix until as smooth as possible using a high-powered processor. Then add the coconut milk a quarter cup at a time, processing in between until very smooth. The cream cheese will not be as perfectly smooth as regular cream cheese but you should keep processing it until really smooth, at least an additional three minutes after adding all the coconut milk.
Lastly, decant the cream cheese to your chosen glass or Tupperware container, scraping out as much as possible, and chill for at least one hour.
You could use your cream cheese straight away but it will be slightly grainier and runnier than is optimal, chilling it will give the remaining little bits of cashew more time to soften and the coconut milk and oil more time getting to work to get that perfect creamy cheese texture.
What you’ll need:
- Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scales.
- A high-quality food processor (personally I love all the Ninja and Kitchen Aid brands).
- A shallow plastic, glass, or ceramic container to decant the non-dairy cream cheese to.
This delicious cream cheese spread will keep in the fridge for up to five days and can also be frozen for up to three months, just make sure to defrost it in the fridge overnight without heating it.
Feel free to add whatever you want to flavor your non-dairy cream cheese. Some suggestions:
- Half a teaspoon of red chili flakes and one teaspoon of lemon zest.
- One tablespoon of harissa paste.
- For a Boursin-style vegan cream cheese, add two cloves of crushed garlic, one teaspoon of dried dill, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, ½ teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of dried parsley, ½ teaspoon ground garlic, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- For a herbed chive and onion spread, add 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and optionally, half a cup of finely chopped red onion.
Did you make this dish? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐and a comment below.
- 1½ cups raw cashews (200 grams),
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice,
- 3 tablespoons melted deodorized coconut oil,
- ½ teaspoon salt,
- ½ Tablespoon red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar or 1¼teaspoons ACV),
- ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk (200ml)
- Soak the cashews. My favorite method is to add them to cold water - the water must cover the cashews by at least three inches - bring to a boil on the stovetop then turn off the heat and soak for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours, preferably overnight. The longer you soak your cashews the smoother your non-dairy cream cheese will be.
- Drain the cashews and add them to a high-quality food processor along with the lemon juice, melted coconut oil, salt, and vinegar. If your coconut oil has solidified, simply melt it in the microwave for around 20 seconds or until liquefied. Process the mixture until as smooth as possible.
- Add the coconut milk a quarter cup at a time and process for at least one minute between additions and three minutes after adding all of it. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Decant to a shallow container and refrigerate for at least one hour and then use and enjoy as needed.
Amount Per Serving Calories 223Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 0mgSodium 139mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 5g