This delicious homemade Vegan Cashew Cheese makes for a fantastic dairy-free cheese alternative with a creamy cashew cream cheese centre and peppercorn coating- perfect to be part of a vegan cheese board, for crackers and toast!
Christmas is not complete without a cheese board, and I see no reason why Vegans can’t enjoy a delicious vegan cheese board too, especially with a vegan cashew cream cheese as pretty as this. Within this post, I’ll be showing you how to make cashew cheese with an artisanal look that will impress all!
I might be a bit biased here, but I honestly think this vegan cashew cream cheese is so much better than any store-bought version I’ve tried to date. The texture is perfect with a refrigerated solid-ness to it, but a creamy centre so it’s still spreadable if wanted too – similar to a cheese ball texture.
This recipe is an excellent option for thanksgiving, Christmas or for any special event as it’s can be stored in the fridge for 5 days and holds it’s shape out of the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Plus, it’s just a little bit fancy, let’s be honest- which is always great for a celebration and especially as part of a vegan cheese board.
What to Include in a Vegan Cheese Board
This vegan cashew cheese will pair well with all the components of a cheese board and would work well for a surprise homemade Christmas gift for a Vegan relative or friend. And I personally imagine it as part of a Vegan charcuterie style cheese board.
This could include various Vegan spreads, Cheeses, Vegan honey, chutneys and Vegan meat-alternatives. Plus a good selection of veggies, olives & fruits including grapes and apple slices.
In fact, you may even want to add some spreads including homemade hummus recipes like this trio of rainbow hummus recipes. For something a little different, you might like this Moutabal eggplant dip.
I always like to include 3-4 cheese options within any vegan cheese board. Luckily this recipe can be easily altered and experimented with to get a vegan cream cheese or hard cheese version of multiple flavours ( see below for examples).
Why make homemade cashew cheese?
I know that vegan cheese can be a bit of a divisive topic for many – what vegan cream cheese tastes best? But do they even taste like cheese or not? – And everyone’s opinions differ, let’s be honest.
I actually had a lot of the same worries when I tried my first frankly awful, vegan cheese, and it may be that it’s an acquired taste, but I love Vegan cheeses now. Nut-bases, Coconut-based – there are so many options.
But why fork out a lot of money to try lots of different flavoured Vegan cream cheese and hard cheeses when you can make your own and experiment with flavours to your heart content. For example, this vegan cashew cheese has some chopped rosemary in it. However, the herbs and flavouring, as well as the coating, can all be experimented with.
Vegan Cashew Cheese Coating options
I used a mixture of black nigella seed powder and black peppercorns; however, this can be swapped out in multiple ways.
- Swap out the black peppercorns for pink peppercorns ( which are more red than pink ) for a festive look. Be warned peppercorns should only be used by ( and for) pepper lovers!
- Fresh herbs are a fantastic choice to experiment with. I suggest chives, dill or parsley. These can be mixed with crushed nuts for textural differences.
- Crushed nuts – This is always a delicious choice. You could choose from pecans, pistachios, walnuts and almonds for a wonderful textural experience.
- For a fun, festive option you can try covering the cheese with pomegranate seeds ( best done while the cheese is at it’s creamiest, before setting it in the fridge).
- For an ‘intriguing’ option, you could use activated coconut charcoal for a black coating. I would use this sparingly in cooking though as it can affect the absorption of some medicines and affect gut bacteria.
- Umami powder– With it’s earthy, mushroomy taste, Umami powder can add exciting dimensions to any vegan cheese. If you want to be extra fancy, try grating a tiny bit of truffle onto the cheese.
More coating options
- Smoked paprika – This is an absolute favourite of mine. Not only does it give the cheese a beautiful colour on the outside, but it’s also a delicious flavour. You could also include some in the cheese mix itself for a fun flavour option. Also, you can pair this with come cayenne powder for a hint ( or more!) of heat.
- Dried herbs – similar to using fresh herbs, these can be used in a variety of ways and combined. Rosemary and thyme are great options to experiment with.
- Experiment with superfood powders and other powders – if I were to try to write a list of all the different options you could experiment with I could probably fill an entire blog post. Instead, I’ll be precise and say that there is a lot of lee-way to have some fun here from sweet to savoury powder options. One of my personal favourite suggestions is dehydrated tomato powder. This can also be mixed into the cashew cream cheese along with some sun-dried tomatoes for a fun flavour choice.
- For added protein, you could mix some herbs into this 5-seed protein blend and then roll your cheese in it.
- And I couldn’t not end the list by suggesting that you get even more experimental with your topping choices. For example, you could always crush your favourite Vegan crisps into a powder to use as a topping ( think Vegan Cheetos).
I know I mentioned this with the pomegranate seed options but, adding any large chunks of an ingredient as a topping is best done when the cashew cream cheese is fresh from the blender and not yet set in the fridge.
Alternatively, powders only need to be dusted on / rolled over when the cheese is fully set.
How to Present/ Serve This Vegan Cashew Cheese
Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that this vegan cashew cheese can be presented in multiple ways. I decided to go for an artisanal round wheel look, with a crust. However, you could also make it into a cheese roll before dipping it into a coating.
Alternatively, use individual moulds/ roll into small balls, to make ‘individual serving’ style portions with various coatings/toppings. Plus, for a special, fun Christmas vegan cheese version, why not make a reindeer?
Simply make the cheese into a half sphere or sphere and cover in crushed almonds or pecans, to begin. Use pretzels for the antlers, black olives for eyes and either a cranberry/ cherry tomato for a cute red nose. Voila – an adorable Rudolph ‘cheese ball’ vegan cream cheese creation.
How to make cashew cheese
Cheese recipes and making cheese from cashews may sound like it’s going to be a long and laborious task, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. To prepare this dairy-free cheese, you only need a few ingredients and a few minutes of your time.
In fact, all you need is cashews, water, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic and salt for the base cashew cream cheese. I also included a small handful of Thyme for added flavour.
The process is as simple and blending all your ingredients, moulding it into shape or pouring into a mould, coating with your preferred topping options and leaving it to set in the fridge.
It’s essential to begin by saying that for this recipe you should use unsalted, raw cashews.
These should, ideally, have been soaked in cold water overnight. If you’re running short on time, you can soak the cashews in lukewarm water for two hours. When you’re ready to make your vegan cashew cheese, drain and rinse the cashews.
Then – as I said above, you blend the cashews with rest of the ingredients, apart from the thyme, using a food processor or a blender. As the cashews are soaked, they’ll be a lot softer than usual, so you don’t need to use a high powered blender for this recipe.
Blend all the ingredients till thoroughly combined and a single homogenous mixture. You may need to pause the machine once, stopping to scrape down the sides, so the cashew cheese is super-smooth.
Meanwhile, prepare the thyme ready to go into the cheese mixture.
To do this, you need to remove the leaves from the sprig. The easiest way to do this is to hold the sprig as the base. Slide your fingers all the way down, and the leaves will naturally be pulled off.
You can then leave these whole or chop them into smaller pieces by gathering the leaves together and slicing across them to the desired size.
You can either pour these into the blender and give the machine a final whizz to incorporate them fully. Alternatively, pour your cashew cheese mixture into a bowl, add the thyme and stir till evenly combined.
Pour the mixture into your desired container and refrigerate. I used a simple round spring-form pan to create a cheese wheel shape. Alternatively, you can mould it into a log, roll into small balls, or even use small moulds for individual-portion sized servings.
Leave the cashew cream cheese to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving!
Note* If you want to experiment with thicker toppings including crushed nuts or even fresh pomegranate seeds these will need to be pressed into the cheese before it’s put in the fridge to set.
Alternatively, once set you can add the nigella seed powder of crushed black peppercorns as decoration. Either sprinkle them directly onto the cheese or, for a thicker coating, roll it in the topping.
This vegan cashew cheese can then be stored in the fridge for 5 days. However, when serving the cheese remember that after 2-3 hours, the cashew base will get looser and struggle to maintain its shape.
As always, if you give this Homemade vegan cashew cheese recipe a go then let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, feel free to tag me in your recreations @AlphaFoodie.
Homemade Vegan Cashew Cheese
- 2 cups cashew nuts pre-soaked
- 1/3 cup filtered water
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1.5 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon salt
- small handful fresh thyme or dried if preferred
- nigella seeds powder or black pepper for covering the top optional
- Soak the cashews for at least 8 hours.*
- Blend the cashews with rest of the ingredients, apart from the thyme, using a food processor or a blender.**
- Add the thyme and stir with a spoon or spatula.
- Pour the mixture into your desired container and refrigerate to set for atleast two hours. ****
- Once set, add the nigella seed powder of crushed black peppercorns as decoration. Either sprinkle this directly onto the cheese or, for a thicker coating, roll the cheese in the topping. *****This vegan cashew cheese can then be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. When serving the cheese, remember that after 2-3 hours, the cashew base will get looser and struggle to maintain its shape.
I served this to 85 non-vegans at a high tea, on crostini with roasted sweet potato and a smoky kasundi. I made long, small logs crusted with sunflower seeds and black sesame, then cut it into small chunks. I was a bit worried when I tasted it while making it, but the next day when the cheese had set it was absolutely yummy. Everyone raves about it. A total winner recipe, thank you
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This sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing, Tanya!
Just did your recipe, so creamy and delicious ! (Didn’t add yeast and soaked the cashew nuts for 24h) I will for sure do it again !
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Thank you for the lovely feedback! 🙂
This looks great! But do I have to use coconut oil for this recipe?
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I don’t believe the end results would be the same without coconut oil. If the smell of coconut oil puts you off, you can always try odorless coconut oil. I hope you give it a try 🙂
I have crushed cashew nuts. Can I still make this recipe without soaking them? Should I add some water to the blending process?
Hi Yajna, I haven’t tried using crushed cashews, the reason for soaking is to provide the creaminess and breaks down phytic acid for better absorption. Maybe if you blend the ones you have with warm water that might possibly work. Let me know how it goes 🙂
Hi Samira, I have to say that I love your style and recepies but this recipe was not for me. I realized one more time that cashew, nutrition yeast and lemon mixture is not for me. But on top of everything, coconut oil ruined the taste for me. It was not souvary but somewhat sweet taste or texture( I dont know how to express this). I believe you add coconut oil to obtain the hard cheese texture once it is refrigerated but If I would do it again, I would replace the coconut oil with olive oil. I THINK it would be better fit to cashew cheese. Thx for all delicious recipes:)
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Thank you for your feedback and I’m sorry to hear it. Did you try it with odorless coconut oil and have you perhaps tried it with olive oil yet?