How to Make Soy-free Vegan & Paleo Cream Cheese

I’ve used variations of this dairy-free cream cheese in a bunch of my dairy-free recipes like, carrot cheesecake, as butter cream on cupcakes, and drenched over breakfast cake but never created a dedicated post to to it. It’s one of my favorite things to make so I’m excited to finally be sharing the step-by-step with you all.

First – you have to decide what approach you’re taking with your cream cheese.

If you want authentic, cultured vegan cheese then you’ll want to use a yogurt starter to create the culture. I use this Vegan and Gluten-free Yolife Yogurt Starter (Canadians can purchase theirs from Upaya Naturals).

If you want semi-authentic, vegan cheese that hasn’t been cultured but has a tad less steps, then you can use raw apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice.

For the purpose of today’s post, we’re going to go with the easier method and save the culture fun for another day.

You’ll want to soak the cashews for 24 hours. I like using cashew halves because they’re less expensive and they soak up more water making the mixture creamier. Once the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse them really well.

Add the soaked cashews to a blender with 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water. If while you’re blending you need a bit more liquid, add up to another tablespoon of water.

You want the mixture to be smooth. Think butter cream smooth. Super, super smooth. Just like this…

Then, set the smooth cheese aside for awhile. The longer you leave it to sit the more the flavors will develop. I leave mine for a couple of hours. Then, line a plastic container with cheesecloth. You’re not going to keep the stuff in plastic, so just choose any container you have handy.

Another decision is required of you here – do you want thick cheese or velvety cheese?

If you want dense cream cheese that’s more similar to the “real thing”, do NOT double up on the cheesecloth. Go 1-ply.

If you want velvety cream cheese, double up on the cheesecloth. Go 2-ply.

I went 2-ply.

Once the cheesecloth is over the container, drop the pureed cashew mass into the cheesecloth like this:

Once all of the mixture is in the cloth, pinch up the sides and tie it with some twine.

Pretty, right?

Now this is where you have to get a bit MacGyver all up in your kitchen. You need to suspend the cheesecloth bag. I like to tie it to my turmeric stained spoon and suspend it in a glass jug. Use whatever you have on hand. Get creative.

Once it’s all suspending you’ll need to place it somewhere warm and nice for 24 hours. I place mine on a little shelf right next to the heating register in our kitchen.

Leave it be.

Once 24 hours have passed, you should have a bunch of liquid at the bottom of the jug. Yay!

Remove the cheesecloth bag from it’s resting place and cut away the twine.

You should be left with a glorious hunka beautiful vegan cream cheese that you can use on everything you would dairy cream cheese.

For those that are more 1-2-3 step type people, here’s the recipe…

To print, email or text this recipe, click here.

4.8 from 31 reviews
Soy-free Vegan & Paleo Cream Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Homemade vegan cream cheese made from cashews, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Sugar-free, soy-free and dairy-free.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups raw cashew halves, soaked for 12 hours
  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Place raw cashew halves in a glass dish and fill with filtered water. Cover and place in the fridge to soak for 24 hours.
  2. Then, drain and rinse the cashews with water.
  3. Drop cashews in a blender or food processor and add remaining ingredients. Begin with 2 tablespoons of water and work up to 3 tablespoons if needed. The water is in the recipe just to help the mixture get as smooth as possible in the blender.
  4. Blend for 2 minutes or so, until it's as smooth as smooth can be. Set aside for a couple of hours.
  5. Drape a tall plastic container with cheesecloth. For thinner, more creamy cream cheese, double up the cloth. For a firmer cheese, use 1-ply. I chose to double up.
  6. Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the cheesecloth.
  7. Pull up the sides of cheesecloth and tie with a piece of string or twine.
  8. Hang the cheese bag on a kitchen utensil and rest it inside a vase or juice pitcher. It just has to be extended in the air so that the extra liquids can drain from it.
  9. Leave in a warm place for at least 24 hours. Then, remove from the hanging setup you've created, remove cheesecloth and serve as is or add flavors such as herbs, vanilla or a touch of sugar.

View nutrition information (once on page, scroll down)

And later we make something yummy (and vegan) with it.

Brace yourselves.

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

    • I really need to make vegan cheese. I saw a recipe for a cheese ball the other day that intrigued me. That’s just insane!

      • Leanne, PLEASE post about your vegan cheese experiences if/when you do try to make it! Cheese has been the hardest part of giving up dairy! :)

          • Hi
            I don’t use vinegar, but I would LoVe to try this recipe. To replace the vinegar what would I have to increase? The lemons? Also whatever I have to increase how much would I have to increase it by? I’m sooooo excited to try this!!!!

  1. Ooh I can’t wait to see what your creation is! Do you think that almond yogurt that you like is made with the same sort of culture? I’ve never tried making my own yogurt (vegan or otherwise) before but this sounds like a perfect thing for a Try Something New Tuesday. Also, you know that whole issue about dairy causing breakouts that we were talking about? Do you find that eating the cashew or almond-based yogurt helps?

    • It’s insanity. I nearly fell off my chair when I tasted it. Ah!

      I’m sure the yogurt that I like is made from similar culture. It’s not the best culture out there, but it’s the only dairy-free one that I’ve been able to find in Canada. I’ve started making my own nut and seed yogurts with it and am really happy with the results. For sure, cutting out dairy (which leads to hormone inconsistencies) would help acne. Not only that, but allergies and sensitivities to dairy almost always show in the form of acne among other things.

      • Have you ever seen the book Artisan Vegan Cheeses? In it the author teaches you how to make rejuvelac to culture your cheeses using the grain of your choice.

  2. Are you KIDDING me? How can you possibly be this awesome? I’ve never tried making vegan cheese because the steps always just left me dizzy and you’ve taken the process and made it seem like a child could do it (and I bet they could, actually). Your posts amaze me every day with their insightfulness and usefulness and…well…everything.

    • Aw thanks Erin! Your comment has me smiling from ear to ear :D

  3. I have always been curious about cashew cream cheese, but never looked up how to make it. I love this tutorial, so helpful!! It looks delicious, and I can’t wait to see what you make with it!!!

  4. ‘Cream cheese’ made from nuts?! It sounds nuts… aaand, pretty darn amazing too. I am lactose intolerant and my body doesn’t really like soy either, so well done Leanne, another fab post which has taken what I know and expanded it, inspired it and intrigued me creatively! You’re blog and recipe’s are pretty much out of this world awesome. High 5 from the UK.

    • It is nuts, isn’t it? I love that you’re inspired and intrigued. That’s rad. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the recipe if you give it a shot!

  5. Thanks for recipe! How warm would you say we need to keep this next to for 24 hours? My house is cold so maybe perhaps it would not work so would need to find out approximately to maybe keep in oven at a set temperature. Thanks!

    • I kept it at about 25°C, 77°F. If you’re culturing your cream cheese you’ll need to keep it between 105°F to 112°F. Hope that helps!

  6. Whenever I want something cheesy I tend to turn to nutritional yeast rather than a creamier vegan counterpart, but this cashew cheese looks simple to make and I’m sure it’s delicious. I’ll have to try it out for a special occasion!

    • I’m so with you, Jodye. I LOVE nutritional yeast! Have you tried adding it to roasted veggies before they go in the oven? Oh man, it’s heavenly!

  7. will you be posting, in the future, the recipe for cultured vegan (soy-free) cream cheese?

    (or maybe you can point me in the direction of one?)

    either way…I will try this one, as well. Do you think it would work with macadamia nuts and/or brazil nuts?

    thanks :)

    • I was planning on doing the yogurt in the New Year which will outline the steps of how to make it into cream cheese, too. Basically, you follow the steps outlined in this guide but instead of adding lemon juice and vinegar, you heat up the mix, add the culture and then keep warm. I keep mine in my dehydrator for the best results as I don’t have a yogurt maker. I bet any nut would work as long as they’re blanched and have soaked for a long enough time.

  8. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with cultured foods so I’m very excited about this recipe! Thanks for the tip about the vegan yogurt starter cultures! I used to make my own yogurt back when I ate dairy, but haven’t ventured into since. Super excited to try this!

  9. Hi – thanks for the idea! I’m probably going to try this with almonds some time….but before I just go ahead with it, I’m wondering have you already? I’m a dietitian who leans plant-based but my son is allergic to cashews so I need to get creative on some of the cheese alternatives…

    • I’ve never made this cream cheese with another other than cashews but I do make my own almond yogurt and it’s similar in consistency while I go through the initial steps. Be sure to get blanched almonds and you should be okay.

  10. I love this post! Cannot wait to try my hand at this cream cheese. I hope I can get it to turn out as lovely as yours

  11. Oh how exciting. Love this. Could you make a cheese cake using this instead ot normal cream cheese? So many possibilities. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Oh yes, yes you can! For a dense cheesecake, follow the 1-ply instructions.

  12. Wow! I never thought making your own vegan cheese could be so easy. I always liked cream cheese before going vegan, so I’ll have to give this a try. I can’t wait to see what you made with it. I can think of so many possibilities!

    • It was one of my favorites before I went dairy-free, too! It’s as close to the ‘real thing’ as I can get it. Enjoy!

  13. Do you think it would be possible to get the mixture smooth enough in a blender that is not as high powered as a Vitamix? A Vitamix has been on my Christmas, Birthday and every other list out there for a while now but for now I am stuck with a somewhat crappy blender!

    • I’m sure it would be. The cashews will be SO soft after soaking for that long!

  14. I tried it…and it was a amazing.

    I was so stunned that it worked. I really just couldn’t believe it.

    All it takes is a little planning, since there is a bunch of waiting. But with your directions it was no trouble at all.

    Now I don’t have to purchase this at the store anymore I can just make me own.

    • Awesome! I’m so happy that you liked the recipe and found it easy to do. You’re right, it just takes a lot of waiting time, but not a lot of hands on time. It’ll save you so much money making it yourself than buying the dairy-free soy-based cream cheese at the store!

  15. Hi
    I would like to thank you so much for this receipe … thank you thank you thank you
    it is wonderful . Made some changes to it :) i reduced the vinger added one more spoon of lemon and increased the amount of water so that i will not get a very soury taste ……. it fomulated very very well … next time im gonna try your receipt to the dot…..
    after i made it also i have added some thyme and made them like small balls whenever i want to eat i add olive oil with a gluten free bread
    one question though what is the fridge self life for this receipt. Also, do you have a yougurt receipt im craving for it and where i live there is no gluten and caseine free yougurt
    your brightened my day thanks

    • Hi Dana – I’m so happy that you liked the recipe! I love the changes that you made to it. It should be good in the fridge for a week if you store it in an air-tight container. I haven’t tried to freeze it, so not sure what would happen there. I don’t have any great yogurt recipes, but I am working on a couple!

    • You can make yogurt out of nut milks too. You just need to find a dairy free probiotic or yogurt starter. I have made my own almond milk and attempted to make it into yogurt but that was before I knew about heating almond milk to keep it from separating. I know heating it destroys enzymes, but you only heat it for a few minutes, never let it boil or it takes on a ‘curdled’ looking appearance (although it’s still completely edible if that happens). I’m going to try again soon. To make almond milk you soak your nuts for 4-12 hours and then rinse them well, then take the skins off. About a cup of dry almonds (they expand when you soak them) makes about five cups of milk (depends on how think you want it, you can purree with less water and add more after if you need). Blend the soaked almonds and water in a good blender, I usually add half the water first, blend, then add the remaining water and blend again. Now you need cheesecloth, nutmilk bag, or a clean tea towel and a bowl. hang the towel over the bowl (lots of overhang so the cloth doesn’t collapse into the bowl) and pour in the almond milk. wrap up the almond grounds and squeeze well to get the milk out. You can dry the pulp and use it for flour in cookies, pie crusts, or for breading meat (oops this is vegan site) I use it for gluten free cookies most, and pie crusts. It does make tasty chicken strips though.; Now you heat your milk on the stove very gently. if you just want milk you can add vanilla and sweetener at this point if you want them, but if you want to make yogurt or cheese leave it plain. When it cools enough you add the starter/probiotic (I’m not sure how much, one capsule should do it for a batch of milk, but the amount of bacteria in each capsule differs from brand to brand). Then you can either use a yogurt maker or leave the milk to ferment in a warm room for 24 hours. to make yogurt into cheese just use the method on this recipe, draining the excess liquid with cheesecloth. Or you might want to find a local health store or a willing non-health store to order plain Amande for you, if you are concerned about time and cost, making your own almond yogurt seems a lot more expensive than buying amande, and it’s pretty decent for dairy free/soy free yogurt, just don’t get the flavoured stuff, it’s nasty.

  16. thank you so much for this receipe it made my day …easy …. nice …. i reduced the vinger and added 1 spoon lemon for a less soury taste ……….. caz i loved it i added thyme and made them to small balls … now i eat them with olive oil
    two questions thought
    how much is the shefl life of this receipe?
    if you have the yougurt receipe it would e great
    thanks thanks thanksssssssssssss you are an angle

  17. Any idea how much ready-made cashew butter to use instead of making it yourself in a blender or food processor?
    How much cashew butter do 1 1/2 cups cashew halves yield?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Harry – this recipe wouldn’t work with cashew butter, sorry.

    • Hi Heather – I have used it as a top to brownies for a cream cheese swirl and it didn’t melt into the dough as cream cheese would but it still tasted really good. I hope that helps!

  18. I am going to try this immediately. I don’t buy vegan cream cheese anymore because it is so hard to find the non-hydrogenated kind where I live.

  19. I’m so excited to try this! I’ve got my cashews soaking right now. Blueberry cheesecake ice cream, here I come! :)

      • Well, my cream cheese JUST finished “brewing”, so I’ll let you know as soon as I make it! I’m shooting for tomorrow morning as my “before work treat”. :)

        • Great, be sure to let me know how it goes! Have an awesome night, Christy!

          • OH MY GOSH!!! OH MY GOSH!!! OH MY GOSH!!!

            I think I said that about 50 times whilst eating it. It’s my favorite thing in the Vitamix yet! I’ll have the recipe posted on my blog in a few weeks. I’ll be sure to send you the link! Now I gotta run to work. Thanks again for posting the cream cheese recipe! I’ll be sure to include a link to your blog when I post the blueberry cheesecake ice cream!

          • OooOOoo thanks for sharing, Christy! I’m headed over to your blog now to check it out!

      • Ladies,

        You have just made my week. I suffer from Pulmonary Hypertension and as a result can not eat soy, which was no big deal until I started on medication that resulted in not being about to consume dairy. Now I have a recipe for cream cheese, cheesecake and ice cream that all sound wonderful! <3

  20. I tried this recipe, but my “cream cheese” had a very strong smell and taste of apple cider vinegar. Did I do something wrong or is it supposed to be like that?

    • Hi Anna – try leaving it out to sit a bit longer. It shouldn’t have an overly vinegar-like taste to it. It probably means that it didn’t sit long enough or didn’t drain fully.

      • Thanks, Leanne! I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so it was suggested to try thin dish towels instead. I’m guessing that didn’t allow enough drainage. I’m going to get some cheesecloth and try again. Thanks so much!

      • I am making it now and hanging it up in the pitcher. Mine smells very strong ACV too and I was wondering if I did something wrong! I just put it in there so hopefully as the 24 hours goes by that will mellow out a bit! It’s draining away wonderfully. Can’t wait to try it!!!! :)

  21. Hi Leanne,

    I love you and all your recipes and make alot of them but seemed to have had the same results as the previous person with the cream cheese tasting more like apple cider vinegar, yuck!. The consistency is perfect though. Do you recommend something I can do to take away the taste? Maybe Cinnamon and Vanilla but I don’t know what a good amount would be good, any advice would be appreciated, I don’t want to waste it.
    Thanks for all the yummie food I get to eat!!
    Sylvie

    • Aw, I love you too, Sylvie!! I’m so sorry that you weren’t too keen on the recipe. You can try adding 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. The longer you let the cream sit, the more the flavors will develop and the less it will taste like vinegar. I hope that helps!

  22. This is perfect! I hope to try it real soon! I love the fact that theres only 4 ingredients, all of which are whole foods, and not some sort of iffy stuff that they normally put into substituted foods. Also the fact that it’s not made with soy is really great as well! I find cashews to be the most versitile nut around. I’ve used them for sour cream and alfredo sauce and it’s wonderful! Thank you so much for this easy recipe!!

  23. I haven;t tried the recipe yet but it sounds brilliant. Just like to mention that I use coffee filter papers in a coffee filter to ‘drip’ cream cheese which I make from plain organic Provamel soy yogurt available here in the UK. However it would be nice to have soy free cheese. I leave the filter with a cover on it over a container in the fridge – it gets thicker the longer you leave it. Then you take out what you need as and when and add whatever flavours come to mind. I usually add a tbsp of cider vinegar or lemon to start the process but it’s not strictly necessary. Thanks again.

  24. Hi – my daughter has allergies to cashews. Are there any other nuts I can substitue?

    • I’ve had some people tell me that almonds worked well! I hope that helps :)

  25. My daughter is allergic to milk so I’ve had to find ways to make or buy dairy-free everything. They do not sell dairy free cream cheese and she hates soy so I’m so happy to have found something she likes! Cause everyone knows how picky toddlers are! And it’s super easy to make too! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  26. Do the cashews need to be soaked for 12 hours or 24? You have different times posted in directions and in the above info.

    • Thanks for catching that, Lora! It’s 24 hours. Sorry for the confusion.

  27. Does the cream cheese need to be exposed to air during the cheese-cloth sitting stage? We’re having a bit of a fruit fly problem, so I want to keep mine sealed up as tight as possible. I’m so excited to taste the final product. The look of it right now is just amazing. (Made in a Magic Bullet.) Thanks!

    • Hi Rebecca – you could let it sit in the oven… of course the oven should be OFF! Enjoy :)

  28. Do you know if regular vinegar or rice vinegar will work instead of apple cider vinegar?

    • Hi! I haven’t tested the recipe with either, so I’m not sure. I would go with the milder of the two, perhaps the rice vinegar would be best. I hope that helps!

      • Thanks, I’ll give the rice vinegar a try as soon as i can locate a place that sells raw cashews. I have been looking everywhere, but all of the places sell them roasted with oil added even when they are unsalted. I have a bag of shelled almonds though.

        • I’ve been told that almonds work well, just make sure that you soak them!

        • Whole Foods sells raw nuts both in bulk and in bags. Or if you don’t have a Whole Foods near you, you can buy them on Amazon.com.

  29. I am new to GF/DF lifestyle and want to try to make all this at home. Does the cream cheese have to be refrigerated after?

    • Hi Stephanie! Yes, you’ll have to store the completed cheese in the fridge. Hope that helps!

  30. I don’t really have a “warm spot” in my kitchen (I blame poor apartment ventilation/building). Could I use a heating pad to keep it warm for 24 hours? My heating pad is a Conair one-temp pad and it heats up to about 125º. At least, I think, that’s what it says on the box but I haven’t actually temped it yet, haha. Thanks!

    • Hi Susanna – sorry I’m just getting to your comment now, it seems to have gotten lost in the mix. Sorry about that. If you haven’t already tried it, a warm place would be inside the oven (if you have one) make sure it’s turned off though :) I bet the heating pad would work if you threw it in a cooler or a box with the jar of cream cheese. Hope that helps!

  31. This was amazing!! Really mild flavour, tasted so good just the way as it was spread over crackers. I also took it and made a dairy-free cheesecake with it and it was delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe :)

    • So awesome! Thanks for sharing, Desiree. I’m so very happy that you enjoyed it :)

    • Hi Leah – it probably had a strong vinegar taste due to the type of vinegar used, I used raw apple cider vinegar. Also, make sure it hangs in cheesecloth for the allotted time. Another option is to just use more water instead of vinegar. I hope that helps!

  32. I am so excited to try this!! it looks amazing. But I’m wondering, how would I modify if I wanted to culture it?? I think it would totally be worth the extra steps but I don’t want to screw it up.

    • Hi Marisa – you could totally culture it, you’re right… problem is, I have NO idea how to do it. I’m so sorry.

  33. Haven’t tried this recipe yet but I am overly excited to! Glad I came across your blog, Leanne. These vegan cheeses intimidate me, but this one I feel like I can do! kudos!

  34. Made this a couple weeks ago and plan to make again real soon. This will be a recipe we will make over and over again as there is a member in our household that cannot have dairy. Thanks so much Leanne, our daughter doesn’t feel so deprived thanks to you.

  35. My sphere of vegan cream cheese is currently dangling from a wooden spoon waiting for the 24 hours to be up. In glancing back at the recipe I noticed that I didn’t let the mixture sit before pouring into the cheese cloth. Here’s hoping my excitement to get the process moving doesn’t diminish the results! Will report back with findings..

    • I was really hoping it would be more like cream cheese, but it sorta tasted like cashews and vinegar. Perhaps if I had let it mingle a little longer in the blender it would have been better! My mixture is sitting in the fridge now mingling with some garlic powder and a few other ingredients to hopefully give it some more flavor. I may try it again and not skip the letting it rest in the blender stage. We’ll see how it tastes tomorrow!

      • I soaked the cashews for probably longer than 48 hours because I didn’t have time to play with it. When I tasted the cashews they didn’t taste like cashews at all. The flavour was very blend and nondescript. Perhaps the length of time to soak makes a difference in the taste. I think it tastes like cheese, the only thing I would like to change is to add salt which I will try with the next batch. It tasted very nice with chives on toast.

        • Hi Andrea – thanks for the tip! I used cashew halves so I don’t think they needed to soak as long. Great to know that you soaked them for that long and the recipe turned out well!

  36. This recipe was very easy. I soaked it longer because I didn’t have time to do it when I was supposed to according to the recipe. But I tasted it as soon as I blended it and I could tell that the flavour was excellent. It has been hanging now for 8 hours and the flavour is developing nicely. My kids will be so happy that they can cream cheese again. I would like to know what the purpose of the lemon is. The reason I ask is that my kids should b not have lemon either due to citrus allergies. Would it turn out to be a similar texture and taste without the lemon added? I would also love to see the fermented version because I believe it is done without lemon.

    • Hi Noelle – a couple of days, perhaps? I leave it up to 5 days.

  37. Leanne,
    I’m so excited about trying this! I have the cashews soaking for tomorrow!
    I have NO cooking expertise, but with learning about alternatives for my diet restriction, I’ve heard about nutritional yeast.
    Question, could this be incorporated into this recipe to give it a cheesy taste?
    Since I haven’t tasted it yet, it may have that flavor, but thought I’d ask since I was amazed at the flavor of nutritional yeast.
    Thanks!

    • Yo! Leslie! I bet you COULD add nutritional yeast to this. I’ve never tried, it would give it more of a cheddar cheese taste than cream cheese, but I think it would work. Hope you like the cheese ;)

  38. Hi,

    I can’t wait to make this for my girlfriend.

    Can you tell me how long this will last in the fridge and whether it can be frozen?

    Thanks

    Mr K Jones

    • How sweet of you! It should keep in the fridge for a couple of days, 5 or so? I haven’t tried to freeze it… but I’ve frozen cashew dressings and marinades and they’ve been okay…

  39. This turned out really well. I was surprised at how well it imitated the consistency of cream cheese. Plain I didn’t really care for it, but with a little salt, pepper, and some other spices it was delicious. I think I’ll make this regularly.

  40. I’m surprised that there’s no salt added to the recipe? I’ve never made cheese of any kind at home, but salt seems like a staple in most cheese. Is Mozzarella an exception? I’m definitely going to be trying this recipe in the next couple of days. Looks fairly simple – thank you :)

    • Hi Rachel! I ended up using this cream cheese in a dessert and didn’t want any salt added. Feel free to add a bit, for sure! Enjoy :)

      • Ok, followed all the instructions, except I omitted 1T of vinegar. All is well, but nothing drained from it in that 24 hour hanging-from-the-spoon period. I doubled the cheesecloth (which I won’t do next time), so that may be why, but the “cheese” also formed a thin, kind of crusty film around it during that time. It may have been the temp. in my house since it’s been really warm the past few days, but anyway, added some herbs and salt — not too bad for my first try!

        • Well done, Rachel! Yes, next time try to make a single layer of the cheesecloth and see how that goes. The layering depends on the quality of your blender and the amount of liquid. I’m happy that it turned out alright for your first go around.

  41. how long does it usually keep for? Should it be stored in the refrigerator?

    • a couple of days, perhaps? I leave it up to 5 days.

  42. No matter how long I blended in the food processor, I couldn’t get it super velvety like you did! I even soaked my cashews for 48 hours…what gives?

    • Hi Melissa! It’s probably the quality of your food processor (sorry!) do you have a high powered blender, like a vitamix? That you could use?

  43. This sounds so delicious, I can’t wait to try it out! Just wondering what the storage instructions are after the cream cheese is done? Any need to refrigerate or can it sit in a sealed container on the counter? Also, what would the approximate shelf life be? Thanks!!

  44. Hey there.
    I’m lactose intolerant and I miss dairy so I was super excited about this recipe…it came out the correct consistency and everything but it tastes very vinegary. I measured everything. Not sure what is wrong. Help?

    • It could be the quality of vinegar you used. Did you use the same vinegar that I referenced in the recipe?

      • No. I used what I had. It’s not horrible…I think I’m going to try to make something sweet with it to overtake the vinegar flavor. Next time I will get better vinegar. Thank you

  45. Is vinegar required? Or could you do this with just the lemon juice, adding more to replace the vinegar?

    • I’m sure you could do all lemon… it just may be a bit too lemony. I hope that helps!

  46. Hi! I found this recipe a couple of days ago and, well, how could I not want to try it?
    I love trying to find out new, healthier food pursuits, and I have a friend and a very young cousin who are lactose and nuts intolerant (and other things, actually), so really, as I do love cooking for others (and experimenting), this website is really a saving grace for me. Thanks!

    Well, anyway… that aside, I did search for cashews but I have yet to find them locally, they’re not that common a ingredient here in rural Italy, but while I was rifling my cupboards I saw my opened quinoa package and I thought: why not? let’s try it.
    (and then later I tought: would the wonderful-recipe-inventor be interested in hearing this version? and here I am, writing this comment ^_^)

    I did the version with water alone, and I noticed right away that quinoa needs more water than cashews – it may be due to the fact that I let it soak half the advised time though – taken in the same proportions.
    Then I brought it up at 30° celsius and I put in the yogurt starter, and let it stay into the yogurt maker.
    I checked after two hours only and the slightly “sour-yogurt-y” flavour was already there.
    It was a bit too solid and maybe it would have needed more water still in the blending stage – but I found that the slightly herbaceous flavour typical of the quinoa compliments very well the yogurt-cultured one, and there was also a very slight “nutty” cheese-like flavour too.
    It is now into its “mcgyver” state – haging from my cupboard in the kitchen – but after a 6 hours span it really tasted good, and the consistency was already very nice!
    I’m really curious as to taste it at its completion, and I think I will be making the cashews version as soon as I find cashews… I liked the process and the tastes I sneaked in the preparation very much!
    Thanks *a lot* for your recipe!
    Onward to dairy-free soy-free nut-free and gluten-free cheesecake making!

    • WHAT!? This is crazy… I LOVE it. Thanks so much for sharing, Harianne. I would have never thought to make cheese out of quinoa. Well done. You didn’t cook it beforehand, right? Just soaked and went to work? Well done.

      • Is it, isn’t it? I was honestly ready to just throw away it all if it went wrong, and you know, it really didn’t! I cheated a bit and squeezed the thing to accelerate the draining process, I was too curios to wait.
        The taste isn’t half bad, just a bit- stranger than normal; it has the basic quinoa flavour of course, but with the slightly citrusy undertone of yogurt. Not half bad!
        I was thinking of adding, next time, a teaspoon of olive oil too before putting it in the yogurt maker, to make it a tad more creamy: Quinoa has less fats than nuts etc, it remains more… solid.
        Think of the consistency of tofu put in the mixer, but it sticks together and doesn’t crumble.

        As for the questions, yes! I just soaked it and then tried! Very reckless, but it worked and the best things in the kitchen usually come about this way…
        If you try this version too, though, don’t do it like me and let it soak the whole day, I almost lost my mixer to the quinoa this morning!

        By the way, seeing as it is possible to make yogurt from rice and oath milk, probably the same process would work with this kind of cheese too. I’d go about it either by the soaking/mixing/warming(about 30° celsius and not more)/add culture method, or by using milk and flour made of the same grain, adding the flour after warming the milk and then adding the culture (or vinegar and lemon) when the temperature is low enough.

        And I was thinking that if one didn’t want to go all-natural, probably adding a bit of protein powder the likes they sell in fitness centers could help with making the taste more citrus-yogurt like after the bacteria have had their way with it (But that’s not something I would try myself)…

        Just throwing some ideas around :D

  47. When you say “the real thing” vs “velvety”, would the difference be akin to a block of cream cheese (that you would use for baking etc) vs a tub of cream cheese (the spreadable kind you’d put on your bagels)?
    AMAZING recipe by the way! Makes veganism approachable and enjoyable!

  48. HI Leanne,
    I REALLY want to make PUMPKIN cream cheese, (I’m obsessed). I’ve been dairy free since Christmas (seriously) always had dairy issues but ignored them because I love things like this too much. Do you know what ratio of pumpkin puree I might have to add? Thanks! this looks delicious!

  49. Could I use this cream cheese to make a cheesecake? Sounds like a super easy cream cheese but I really would like a dairy and sy free cheesecake. Thanks!

    • Hi Rebecca! I’ve used it to make cheesecake, yes. You’re good :)

  50. Hi Leanne,
    Do you know if this will freeze. I have a ton of jalapeno peppers from my garden and I’ve been making jalapeno poppers. But you can only eat so many at a time! LOL ! I’ve tried a couple different kinds of cream cheese so far and haven’t been totally happy yet and I want to try this one and maybe the cultured version. I need to do SOMETHING with all these peppers!
    Thanks!
    Joanne

  51. hi,

    we do not get vegan culture or vegan starter here in india..so how do i go about to make my first non-dairy yogurt or cream cheese? plz suggest..
    thanks
    ed

    • Hi Ed! You can use the instructions above. It won’t be cultured. Or, probiotics!

  52. I add onion powder and chives and then let stand in the frig for a few days in order for the vinegar flavor to lesson. After it’s ready, it never last more then two days. Sooooo good! Thanks for the posting

  53. How much does a 1 1/2 cup of cashews weigh? I try to use weight measurements for accuracy. Thank

  54. Trying this now!! Except… I missed the part about keeping it covered in the fridge for 24 hours…. and just left mine on the counter to soak, I just blended them all up with the ACV lemon and water and my blender is dying so It’s not super smooth…. I’m wondering if I need to just throw this batch out and try again when we get a new blender? any tips?
    Thanks!

    • Hey Jessica – it should be okay… although the chunky thing could throw it off, just on a consistency basis. It should still taste good, though!

    • In this version, you don’t. But I bet you could add them in while blending.

  55. Quick question, must have missed the answer some where, how much cashew is used? Wanting to get started!!!

  56. Wow! Fabulousssss Recipe! We had a ladies’ tea party today and was looking for a vegan, soy free, nightshade free cream cheese option for a few vegan and special diet friends. This is amazing! We ate it on finger sandwiches with grated carrot, toasted sesame, a teensy bit of ginger and salt to taste…fabulous! :)
    I ran out of time ahead of time so here’s my shortcut in case it helps others!
    1. I only soaked the cashews for 2 hours. I blended them in a vitamix (with the vinegar and lemon), adding only enough water to get them to blend thoroughly. I fermented it for only 12 hours, overnight.
    The reduction in soaking time seemed to eliminate the need to do any straining! I was prepared to if it was soupy but did not need it especially stiff, so the consistency worked great! Without straining, it came out slightly thicker than the cream cheese spread we took out of a store bought tub for our dairy friends.
    Thanks for an amazing recipe!

    • Awesome shortcuts. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. So very happy that you enjoyed it :D

  57. Could I add this recipes to the How-Tos section over at Healthy Indulgences? I’m trying to create a list of the best healthy cooking tutorials. The photos and clear directions you provided here definitely make this post eligible. My paleo “cream cheese” is draining as we speak. Will give you a shout out in the recipe post as well if it turns out. So glad to have found your site! As a new paleo blog (formerly just sugar-free), it’s great to draw inspiration from talented bloggers like you, Leanne.

    • Hey Lauren! I’d be honored if you did. I’m guessing you’re going to be linking up to the post and not listing the directions + recipe? If so, do it up!

  58. I have this hanging in my nut milk bag right now. Im concerned it might allow too much drainage, but we’ll see! As to the vinegar taste, i only had 3tbs on hand. The flavor out of the blender already seemed perfect to me.

  59. I’m allergic to tree nuts (especially cashews) is there anything i can substitute for them?

  60. Hi Leanne–thank you for sharing this recipe! I tweaked it just a bit (a little less vinegar and a little more lemon), but I am SO grateful for the awesome instructions. I’m going to include my altered recipe on my blog, but will 100% link to here so my readers can find you and check out all that you have to offer. Thank you!!!

    • Wow, brilliant? I don’t know about that… but I’ll take it! Thanks Jennifer :)

  61. Excellent recipe! I used it to make a cream cheese frosting for a carrot cake. I was short on time so I just let it ferment for 12 hours. I also used a nut milk bag for the fermenting. Really easy!

    • Hey Faye! I’m not too sure.. I’ve never tried it. I did freeze the cheesecake that was made with this and it turned out fine so you should be good!

    • Hey Tirzah! I’ve been told that almonds without the skin have worked in this recipe… I haven’t tried it though!

  62. Thank you so much for this recipe. For the first time, I’m going gluten and dairy free for Christmas. I have two family members who are allergic. I’ll have 12 people here for Christmas day, and I want the two who are allergic to be able to eat the same things as everyone else, and not worry about what they can and can’t have. So everything from baked goodies out in the afternoon, to the entire Christmas feast, stuffing and desserts included, will be dairy and gluten free. I’ll be making my favourite no-bake cheesecake recipe using your cream cheese. Thank you so much for developing it.

  63. I am able to get whole raw cashews at my local store. However, they did not have any raw cashews which were already split in half. So I split them by hand, and my thumbnail is pretty sore. :-(

    Does it really matter that they’re already split when they get soaked, or will whole raw cashews work too? If so, how long should I soak them?

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m looking forward to having it Christmas Day morning on my bagel w/lox.

  64. Hi! I was wondering what the flavor is, is it nutty? I’m asking because I love the taste of cream cheese, especially with green olives mixed in it. I have a sensitivity to milk and some cheeses but I’m trying to get away from all dairy because of what the cows go through. Cheese is my weakness though. I will definitely be making this soon. Can you post the recipe for the yogurt cultures?

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes with everyone!

  65. Ok so im at day 2 of the cream cheese. I just got done battering it together and now it has to sit and wait. On my way to the store to buy a cheesecloth and then its hanging time. I just want to thank you for this recipe cause the vegan cream cheese they sell in stores is not only disgusting but it doesnt even seem healthy and i dont like having weird name chemicals in my food. So far the cream cheese looks beautiful and amazing. I will let everyone else now the final product when I am done. And yes i am vegan cause animals dont deserve to be killed for food and i find it disturbing that we eat more chemically processed foods than we do natural foods. Also meat and dairy is def not good for our bodies… thanks again

  66. Hi Leanne! I’m excited to try this. I’m just wondering how long it keeps–and if you’ve ever frozen it. I’m sure it’s delicious, but I’m not sure how quickly I’ll go through it all.

    Thanks!

  67. Is it supposed to have such a strong vinegar smell? The taste isn’t as strong as the smell but it’s there as well. Still pretty tasty though, just can’t taste the herbs (parsley and dill) that I added.

  68. I couldn’t eat this. The vinegar flavour was really intense. I put 60ml, so 1/4 cup as the recipe says. I’m comparing this recipe with the ones found in other blogs and all of them call for only 2tsp. I followed yours cause I liked the “fermentation” procedure and I must say the resulting texture is incredible. But, as said, it was like eating vinegar.

    • Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry that this didn’t work out for you. Did you use cashew halves? Did you allow the cheese to drip? A lot of the vinegar is removed when it drips.

      • Thanks forma your reply. Some of the cashews were in halves, but the majority wasn’t. This is what I could find in the supermarket. I let it drip for 24 hours. Although it’s a little bit cold here, there was some liquid that had dripped.

  69. I wanted to make this recipe right now, but your instructions are misleading. In the ingredients you say to soak the cashews for 12 hours. Then, in the instructions, it says to soak for 24 hours. Which one is it. I also wanted to know whether the soaking water should have salt added as most soaking of nuts calls for. And, after it is made, in what kind of container should it be stored and about how long do you think it will last – before going bad.
    Thanks.

    • 12-24 hours is fine, whatever you’d like. I like 12 hours. No salt and any kind of glass container will work!

  70. Thanks for your quick reply to my last inquiry.. Is there any special reason why you say to use a glass container. Wouldn’t a stainless steel bowl suffice?. When should any supplements be added such as: dill, garlic, etc. After or before suspending? You say it does not need salt in the soaking water. As I understand, after reading about soaking nuts, the salt helps to get rid of any inhibitors of the healthy stuff in nuts – so why not. Also, can I use a milk bag instead of a cheese cloth.
    Thanks so much.

  71. Hi!
    wondering if the liquid from this could be used like whey or fermented sauercraut juice.
    I used Bragg’s acv which is naturally cultured.
    what do you think?

    • Hmm interesting… perhaps it could be. I’m not too familiar with fermentation but it does make logical sense! Did you enjoy the cream cheese?

  72. Hello! I was hoping you could share your recipe with the yogurt starter? Or have you already and I missed it? Thanks for sharing such great recipes!

  73. This looks like an awesome replacement for dairy cream cheese–do you know what the nutritional info is on this as well? thanks.

  74. As a new vegan (as of 4 months) I tried this recipe, and I have to say it didn’t really measure up the real thing. It had a distinct cashew and vinegar taste. Probably better to call it tangy cashew spread than vegan cream cheese. Also, because of the moisture content, I wouldn’t recommend spreading it on a bagel to eat for later (say, for lunch at work) because the bagel will get soggy. Still looking and learning.

  75. How long am I able to leave it out to drain if I think there will be too much of a vinegar taste? I know the recipe suggests “At least 24 hours,” what is the max you would suggest? Maybe 36 hours?

    Randy

  76. I tried this and the vinegar taste was too strong. I was super disappointed, but this didn’t taste right. I followed the directions exactly and even let it drain a little longer – still too much vinegar. I wouldn’t waste cashews making this. I would suggest cutting the vinegar to a tablespoon or two and using water for the rest of the liquid. Also, I would only do a tablespoon on lemon juice.

  77. Hi Leanne, how long will the cream cheese last refrigerated? Can it be frozen and dethawed?

  78. Hi Leanne,
    I tried this recipe and followed your instructions exactly. Everything looked the same as in your photos, however the taste and smell of the apple cider vinegar was extremely strong and not pleasant. I used Eden organic apple cider vinegar. Do you have any suggestions on what may have gone wrong? Thanks for your help and great website.

    • Hi Pamma – I am learning that the vinegar has to be precise. I use raw apple cider vinegar, Braggs. Also, most of the vinegar should drain from the mixture overnight. Did you find that a lot of the liquid drained out overnight?

  79. I intend to try to make crab rangoons with this. I will make some with crab & some without, because a vegan friend wants to try them too. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    I’ve been dairy free for almost two years now, and I feel great <3
    Thanks for posting such a simple recipe <3

    • Okay, my verdict on the vegan cream cheese so far.
      It’s excellent.
      On it’s own, I can taste the vinegar. It’s not terribly pronounced, but it’s there. It definitely has a creamy texture & taste. It’s very spreadable, and behaves like dairy cream cheese.
      I just put some on toast, and it spread very easily. I added some Italian herbs to one slice, and some garlic Mrs Dash to the other. Both taste very good. The flavor of the “cream” is there, as well as the flavor of the herbs/garlic.
      I absolutely intend to get the wonton wrappers and crab meat to make rangoons now. I think they will be delish.

      • That’s awesome, Rae! Thank you for the feedback. I’m really happy that you liked it

  80. Oh I wish I would have scrolled to the bottom of the reviews before trying this… The vinegar taste is way too strong! My husband won’t even eat it – like someone mentioned above tastes like a tangy cashew spread (heavy on ACV).

    I think the consistency is pretty good and texture wise it looks great but it stinks :(

    I definitely think the ACV needs to be cut down a lot – maybe mention this in your post so people know!?

    I’ll try again and let you know if it works.

  81. If I was to make this and use it as a frosting on carrot cake …. would it turn out okay using the powdered sugar and maybe some pure vanilla extract? I want to make a fruit pizza and was looking for a vegan cheese spread, have you tried it on anything like that? Those are two things on my list… my son has turned vegan and is slowly turning our household into one as well…

    • Hi Irene! Yes, I have used this on carrot cake with great success… do it!

  82. Hi Leanne,
    I used your recipe and left it out on the bench 24hrs but it didn’t release any liquid.?! What do you think?
    I live in tropical Darwin in Australia and when I made this recipe, it’s dry season between 31-35 degrees celsius on average during the day, and 20 degrees celsius and above at night at the time. Do you think that maybe, that’s the issue?
    Help?

  83. Hi, Leanne!

    My house doesn’t really seem to have any place that I can place the cheese to be warmed for 24 hours. Could I essentially place it over a slow cooker or next to a slow cooker while it’s on? Any alternatives or places I can keep it warm? I’m tearing my hair out trying to figure out a place where I can put it!

  84. Have you posted the recipe for authentic vegan cream cheese on your site? If not could you please. Would really like to make it.

  85. Pretty bummed . . . tastes like apple cider vinegar. Looks like it’s a common problem. I’m brainstorming ways to salvage due to the amount of work and time invested. I used 2-ply cheesecloth and got about a teaspoon of drainage within the first hour, and that’s it. It’s sitting in my fridge now. I’d hesitate to make this again, but if I did, I would easily cut the ACV in half.

  86. Hi Leanne
    I made this but put less ACV (only used 3tbsp of ACV with 500gms of cashew and left it longer as I could still smell the vinegar and still dripping at the bottom). Anyway, it turned out well…so thank you for sharing this recipe!! :D
    Please could you let me know if it would work well with dairy free butter and sugar so i could make a traditional cream cheese frosting?
    Many thanks again
    Mg

    • I’m not too sure if it would work with butter and sugar… I’ve never tried. But really happy that you made this recipe and liked it!

  87. Mine’s hanging now, and at the moment it doesn’t smell fantastic. Hoping that’ll change because what you made in the pictures looks great!
    How long do you think it’ll last in a good container in the fridge?

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