How to Make Soy-free Vegan & Paleo Cream Cheese

How to Make Soy-free Vegan + Paleo Cream Cheese #paleo #dairyfree #vegan

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.

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 2 tablespoons 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.

The taste will be very vinegary at first. It has to sit for 24 hours to chill out before you judge the taste.

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…

How to Make Soy-free Vegan + Paleo Cream Cheese #paleo #dairyfree #vegan

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

4.8 from 33 reviews
Soy-free Vegan & Paleo Cream Cheese
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.
  • 1½ cups raw cashew halves, soaked for 12-24 hours
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  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.

Get the recipe for my No bake Vegan Cranberry Cheesecake Squares… using this delicious dairy-free cream cheese!


Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. Hey, I did try the recipe with half of the apple cider vinegar, and it was PERFECT. I made a vegan pumpkin cheesecake with it for this last Thanksgiving, and it was absolutely delicious. I just thought I would assure the others out there who have been wondering how it is with reduced vinegar and how it is in cheesecake. If I did make the cheesecake again, I would add a bit more flour (or something like that) for thickening. I will also be making a spinach artichoke dip with this recipe next week, and I will post my results and tag Healthful Pursuit back once it’s up on the blog!

    Kassy @

    • Hey Kassy! Thank you SO much for sharing. I’m sure that info will be helpful to others :)

  2. I made this and although the texture was perfect, the end product tasted waaaay too much of the raw apple cider vinegar for my liking. Does the recipe still workout if you use less vinegar? Also, any suggestions on masking this tartness?

    • Hey! I haven’t tried it but I think the recipe will still work with less vinegar. Let us know if you try it!

  3. I following instructions and it has been sitting in a warm place for almost 24 hrs and not one drop of water has surfaced.

  4. Can I use this cream cheese to make a baked cheesecake? It looks like a good recipe and I am looking forward to trying it. Thank-you,Suzie

  5. I know others have already asked if there is a nut free version of this recipe, but to be more specific, does anyone know of a nut free substitute for cream cheese? My husband is allergic to nuts, and sensitive to lactose, and I’m trying to recreate a strawberry lemon cheesecake we had on our first date. (Pre-lactose intolerant days!)

  6. Why is the vinegar needed in this recipe? I tried it so my friend with milk allergies could try to enjoy some cream cheese icing on carrot cake. All I added in addition was sifted powdered sugar to your recipe, but…. I think there is something off about this recipe where you add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to cashews and then leave out on the counter to hang all night.
    Everyone who tasted it said it seemed off and some complained of stomach upset.

  7. I don’t have a great blender… can i just pre grind the dry cashews in my spice grinder to flour?

  8. How long does this keep? Any idea if you can freeze small servings of it to defrost and use later?

  9. Totally made this today but with Macadamia nuts instead – for more fat. ;)
    Had to add a bit more water, maybe 2 Tbsp. or so. Delicious!
    I made it to experiment with a new ‘oopsie biscuit’ recipe I am making up utilizing egg whites, fingers crossed it works!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: