This Vegan Cream Cheese is perfectly smooth and creamy, using only 5 simple ingredients. You can blend it together in no time, and it’s the perfect topping for bagels and crackers. It even makes an authentic cream cheese frosting!
Ingredients You’ll Need
What is vegan cream cheese made of?
- Cashews. I use raw cashews that have not been roasted for the most mild flavor. You can soak the cashews in water for 2 hours, and then drain them to help boost your digestion, but it’s not necessary to soak these if you have a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix.
- Coconut Oil. This is the one time I will tell you that refined coconut oil is best. My bottle says “expeller pressed” on the front, and it will say ultra-refined coconut oil on the back. Using refined coconut oil means that this vegan cream cheese will have NO coconut flavor, but if you want to use extra virgin coconut oil (as I normally do), be sure to see my tips below for masking the coconut flavor.
- Lemon juice. This adds a slight tartness that you’d find in regular cream cheese. You don’t need to use too much! If you would prefer to use apple cider vinegar here, start with only 1 teaspoon, since the flavor is stronger.
- Salt. Necessary for boosting the flavor, but you can start with just half the amount recommended below if you’re trying to watch your salt intake.
- White miso. This is optional, but highly recommended. White miso tastes like concentrated Parmesan cheese paste, so it helps to add an umami flavor to this cream cheese, making it slightly more cheese-flavored. If you’re not a miso fan, you can leave this out, but I think the cashew flavor is slightly more noticeable without this addition.
- Water or almond milk. You’ll need a small amount of liquid to help it blend smoothly.
If you want to get creative with flavors, I’ve got ideas for you down below, but I’m so happy with out this “plain” version turned out! I hope you love it as much as I do.
How to Make It
- Blend. Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. If you have a high-speed blender, I recommend blending for at least 60 full seconds, to make sure you don’t miss any cashew pieces. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, blend the cashews into a powdery consistency first, then add the other ingredients and blend again until smooth. Stop and scrape the sides of the blender, as needed.
- Chill. This vegan cream cheese will thicken up in the fridge, so be sure to make it in advance. It needs to chill for at least 4 hours before serving. I like to make it the night before I plan on needing it, so it can chill overnight.
- Enjoy! Serve cold, straight from the fridge, on your favorite bagels, crackers, and more.
It takes roughly 5 minutes to blend it all together, so the process is pretty hands off!
Want to spice up your cream cheese? Try these ideas.
- Onion & Chive. This is my favorite flavor variation! Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder and 1 teaspoon of dried chives. (Or 1 tablespoon of fresh chives, if that’s what you have.) Be sure to blend the plain cream cheese first, then add in the seasonings and blend briefly, so the chives will be “speckled” throughout the cream cheese, rather than getting totally pureed. I think a pale green cream cheese would look slightly less appealing. You can also add any other herbs you love, like dill or parsley.
- Everything Seasoning. Add a 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder and onion powder to the cream cheese mixture, so they are blended in smoothly. At the end, add in a tablespoon each of white and black sesame seeds, and poppy seeds, then pulse briefly.
- Fresh Strawberry. Omit the water and add in 1 cup of freshly chopped strawberries and 1 to 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, depending on how sweet you want it. Blend the strawberries first, with the oil and maple syrup, to create a puree, then add in the remaining cream cheese ingredients and blend again until smooth. You can add water to facilitate blending if needed, just 1 tablespoon at a time after you have the flavor to your liking. If you need a sweeter cream cheese, be sure to add more maple syrup, before adding water.
What other flavors do you like for cream cheese? I usually enjoy my cream cheese plain, but sprinkle some “everything” bagel seasoning on top of it, to boost the flavor of anything I’m eating.
Questions & Substitution Ideas
Do I have to use cashews? I have only tested this recipe with cashews so far, but I imagine that blanched almonds (with skins removed) might work similarly. I’ve also had success swapping hemp hearts for cashews in other recipes, like Vegan Ranch Dressing, if you’d like to experiment with that.
Can I use a food processor? I don’t think you’ll get as smooth of a result when you use a food processor, but if that’s your only option, be sure to process the cashews first, to help them break down as much as possible.
More Vegan Cheese Recipes
If you’re looking for more dairy-free recipes, try these!
- Vegan Nacho Cheese. The best nacho topping I’ve ever tasted, made without nutritional yeast. It tastes like the kind you’d get at a movie theater or baseball game.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese. When you need a powdered option to sprinkle on pasta and more, this is an easy alternative to keep on hand.
- Best Vegan Mac n’ Cheese. This recipe has nearly 400 positive reviews and has been a fan favorite for years!
- Vegan Cheese Sauce. This version is made without nuts, for those who need to avoid cashews.
- Vegan Queso. Tastes like the popular dip made with a block of cheese and canned tomatoes. This one is always a hit with a crowd!
- Chocolate Cheesecake. When you’re in the mood for something sweet, try this creamy dessert.
Need a vegan cream cheese frosting? Combine a 1/2 cup of this vegan cream cheese alternative with 3 cups of organic powdered sugar, and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and mix well. It will stir together the easiest when the cream cheese is at room temperature, and you can always add more cream cheese or more powdered sugar, as needed for texture.
For a thicker frosting, place it in the fridge to thicken up.
Note: If you prefer to avoid powdered sugar, you can also try my other Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, made with white sweet potatoes to “bulk” it up.
Vegan Cream Cheese
- 3/4 cup cashews (114 grams; not roasted)
- 3 tablespoons refined coconut oil , melted (40 grams; see notes)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (14 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (4 grams; I use Real Salt brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon white miso (3 grams; optional)
- 6 tablespoons water (92 grams)
- Add the cashews, oil, lemon juice, salt, miso, and water to a blender, and blend until very smooth. Be sure to blend long enough that there are no pieces of cashews remaining, at least 60 full seconds in a high speed blender. (If you don't have a high-speed blender, blend the cashews first to break them down, then add in the other ingredients and blend until smooth.)
- Pour the mixture into an airtight container with a lid, and store in the fridge overnight, or for at least 4 hours to help it thicken up. It should have the texture of "whipped" cream cheese when it's ready.
- Serve this vegan cream cheese cold from the fridge, as it will become more runny if it sits at room temperature for too long. See the notes below for making a more firm cream cheese. Store this in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
If you try this Vegan Cream Cheese recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it. I so appreciate your feedback!