If you’re looking for the perfect cashew cheese to spread on a cracker, THIS IS IT! After countless batches, I’ve developed what is now my go-to vegan party food recipe.
This cashew cheese is tangy, perfect for snacking, and has an adjustable spicy level for your preference.
Traditional dairy cheese is made by fermenting over time to develop that addictive cheese flavor. Nut cheeses can also be fermented for a more complex flavor that mimics dairy cheese. Unfortunately, that is typically a lengthy process that requires culturing and storing in a special temperature stable fridge.
Luckily, you can whip up this homemade cashew cheese in just a few minutes and still get that tangy cheese flavor.
How to make cashew cheese
Cashews are well suited as a vegan cheese base because of their mild, not-too-nutty flavor and their smooth texture after being softened and blended.
For best results, cashews should be soaked overnight in a bowl of water. If you can’t wait overnight, you can also pour boiling water over a bowl of cashews and soak for two hours.
If you’re like me and tend to forget about your bowl of soaking cashews, don’t worry! You can soak cashews for a few days before they’ll go bad. Just drain and refresh the water about once a day.
Besides cashews, the next most important ingredients are nutritional yeast (aka nooch) and brewer’s yeast. You can usually find both of these in the spice aisle. Otherwise, the brands I use are on Amazon:
1. Nutritional Yeast
2. Brewers Yeast
Most recipes you’ll find online for vegan cheese just use nooch. But I prefer to use close to half nooch and half brewer’s yeast. I think this gives it a more traditional cheesy flavor.
In addition to the yeast, this recipe calls for chili powder and cayenne for a kick of flavor. The spices add a nice orange color to the cheese (because let’s be honest, no matter how good it tastes, beige just looks unappetizing). I like my cheese spread to be a little spicy, but you can always reduce or omit the cayenne.
For acidity and a bit of zing, we also add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Depending on the size and juiciness of your lemon, you may want to adjust the amount. I like to taste during blending to make sure it’s balanced to my liking.
During blending, add water to thin. I usually add about 6 tbsp, but it depends on how much liquid is in your soaked cashews and the size of your lemon.
The longer you blend, smoother it gets. I’ve been known to let that food processor run for 15 minutes or more. Just stop it occasionally to scrape down the sides for a consistently blended texture.
Cashew cheese Q&A
Q: How long does cashew cheese last?
A: Cashew cheese will last for up to a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it to save for later.
Q: What is cashew cheese good with?
A: Serve cashew cheese on crackers, as part of a cheese platter with fruit and other snacks, on pizza, on sandwiches, or anywhere else you would use spreadable cheese! One of my favorite ways to use cashew cheese is to spread it on a soft taco, and wrap that taco around a hard shell taco — instant taco supreme!
Q: Can you make cashew cheese without soaking the nuts first?
A: Yes! If you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix, you don’t need to soak the cashews beforehand. I’ve found I need to make a double sized batch in my Vitamix, because smaller amounts don’t blend well with such a high powered mixer. For food processors, it’s best to soak the nuts to soften for at least two hours in boiling hot water, or overnight at room temperature.
Q: Is cashew cheese healthy?
A: Yes! Nuts like cashews are rich in heart-healthy fatty acids. Nutritional yeast is often high in B12, an essential vitamin that vegans must add to their diets. And unlike dairy cheese, there is no hard-to-digest lactose. Each serving of this vegan cashew cheese recipe is only 80 calories.
Q: Where can you buy cashew cheese?
A: I get it. You don’t always have 24 hours to soak cashews and haul out the food processor. If you’re not up for homemade, a lot of grocery stores have vegan cheese in the refrigerated section these days. My favorite brand is Nuttin’ Ordinary which you can also get on Amazon here.
More vegan cheese recipes
If you’re dipping your toes into the world of homemade dairy-free cheese, check out these other vegan cheese recipes:
The vegan cashew cheese recipe is below. Have any questions? Leave a comment!Print
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp brewers yeast (or substitute 1 additional tbsp nutritional yeast)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cayenne (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp chili powder
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Water, to thin (I use about 6 tbsp)
- In a food processor or high speed blender, combine all ingredients except the water. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Add water 1 tbsp at a time until you reach desired texture for your cheese spread. I use about 6 tbsp, but it will depend on how much water your cashews retained from soaking, and the size of the juiced lemon.
- Process for several minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally to mix evenly.
- Chill, and serve cold.