Have you ever wanted to make dairy-free cheese, but every recipe you saw had 20 ingredients? Well, not today!
We've perfected a smooth and spreadable vegan cheese recipe with only 6 ingredients. Let's do this!
One of the most common issues people have with committing to a vegan lifestyle is their love for cheese (we can definitely relate).
Or, maybe you're already vegan, but the store-bought brands aren't cutting it (we can also relate).
You decide, "it's finally time to make a vegan cheese!"
After some Googling, all you can find are recipes with 10, 15, or even 20 different ingredients (So, Daiya is it then...?).
This is exactly why we've made a dairy-free cheese recipe with only the necessary ingredients (and a good reason for why they're included).
Before we get to the good stuff, let's set things straight. There are tons of cheese consistencies out there, and recipe titles can be very confusing and misleading.
So, we want to clarify that this recipe makes a smooth, spreadable vegan cheese. Like a cross between cream cheese and Gournay cheese, but with a sharper finish.
You may be asking yourself, "but is it worth the hassle to make?"
This vegan cheese is actually better than the usual store-bought varieties, yet costs a fraction of the price. Apart from waiting for it to set, it's also super quick to make. So... it's definitely worth it.
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and perfect to serve on your next charcuterie board!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: the perfect way to add a rich and creamy texture to anything is with cashews. They also provide the cheese with a firmer structure to keep it together! When combined with an acid, the sweet, nutty flavor of cashews make things taste very "cheesy".
Health: rich in fiber, but low in sugar, cashews actually have one of the highest carbohydrate counts of all nuts (no wonder they taste so good). They also contain whopping doses of copper, which is an essential nutrient in maintaining blood vessels, nerves, and immune function.
About: this gelatin substitute is derived completely from seaweed (vegans rejoice!). It's sold most commonly in powder or flake form, but for this recipe we use powder. You can find it in many vegan recipes (cheese mostly) as a thickening agent.
Taste: agar is completely odorless and tasteless.
Taste: you'll be hard press to find a plant-based cheese recipe without the use of nutritional yeast. Nooch, as it's commonly referred to, provides the 5th basic taste element, umami, to this recipe. Many people (us included) describe the taste as "cheesy".
Health: most people know nutritional yeast to be a vegan source of B12 (it's a great one). But, protein content isn't often mentioned in the same conversation. Did you know nooch contains 8 grams in just 2 tablespoons?!
Taste: we like the richness of soy milk in this recipe, but you can use whatever your favorite plant milk is. Just make sure it's sugar-free and original flavor (ain't nobody got time for vanilla in their cheese).
Health: in 1 cup of soy milk, there are around 80 calories, 4g carbs, 1g sugar, 4g fat, and 7g protein. Compare that to 1 cup of cow's milk, which has roughly 110 calories, 12g carbs, 12g sugar, 2g fat, and 8g protein. Pretty crazy, right?
First, you'll need to soak the cashews in water to soften em' up! Overnight works best. If you're short on time, soak them in boiling water for at least 1-2 hours. Longer is better since you don't want chunky cheese (or maybe you do).
Once the cashews are soft, throw everything in a high-speed blender or food processor. Mix until you have a smooth consistency (you may have to stop and scrape down the sides once or twice).
Transfer all of that to a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. It's important that your mixture stay bubbling because the agar powder needs to reach 185-194°F (85-90°C) in order to activate properly.
Don't walk away at this point either. You need to constantly stir it for around 4-5 minutes!
You'll know the cheese is close to done when it's thickening up in the saucepan. You can test a small amount on a cold plate or surface. If you don't see it starting to set, continue simmering it for a few minutes longer.
Once it's nice and thick, transfer the cheese mixture to a heat-safe glass container or mold (work quickly as it will start to set once removed from heat).
Cover and transfer to your fridge to chill for a minimum of 3-4 hours, but overnight is best.
Fridge: store this cheese in an airtight container (to ensure optimal freshness) for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Freezer: if you don't finish it all or decide to make a double batch, don't worry! It stores in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just make sure you keep it in a freezer-safe, airtight container.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting this recipe for you:
- Make sure your mixture gets to a low boil in order to activate the agar (if you have a thermometer, now would be a good time to use it)
- It's best to let the cheese set overnight as it will become firmer
- Let the cashews soak for at least 12 hours for the smoothest cheese consistency (especially important if you don't have a high-speed blender)
- A little cheese goes a long way. It may be tempting to eat a lot of it but remember you're making it to save money!
🍴 Tasting notes
Finally, a vegan cheese that will satisfy your cravings. It's:
If you try this recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
How to Make Vegan Cheese
- Blender or food processor
- Glass container
- 1 cup soy milk ($0.28)
- ½ cup cashews ($0.86)
- 2 tbsp agar powder ($0.31)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast ($0.48)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or sauerkraut juice ($0.06)
- 2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Herbs & spices of choice
- Soak the cashews in water for 12 hours, or overnight. If you're short on time, soak them in boiling water for 1-2 hours (you want them very soft so you don't end up with chunks in your cheese).
- Once the cashews are soft, drain off the water and place all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. Mix until the cashews are smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Then, transfer to a saucepan and bring your mixture to a light boil, stirring frequently. The agar powder needs to reach 185-194°F (85-90°C) in order to activate and set properly, so don't be afraid to see some bubbles!
- Continue simmering while constantly stirring (very important) for about 4-5 minutes. You'll know the cheese is close to done when it's thickening up in the saucepan. It should also start to set soon after you remove it from heat.
- You can test a small amount on a cold plate or surface. If you don't see it starting to set, simply add the cheese back to your saucepan and simmer for a few minutes longer.
- Working quickly, transfer the cheese mixture to a heat-safe glass container or mold. Cover and transfer to your fridge to chill for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.
- 1 slice = 34 grams
- If you have a jar of sauerkraut, we like using the juice for a more salty/savory flavor in place of the apple cider vinegar. Just make sure to decrease the added salt a little.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- Nutritional information is a rough estimate.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more recipes to replace non-vegan items, check out our:
- Vegan ground beef for an easy tofu recipe you'll want to sprinkle over everything.
- Vegan parmesan cheese to add to all of your next pasta or pizza dish.
- Vegan chicken fingers for a crispy baked or fried option you'll want to dunk in some ranch.
- Baked buffalo cauliflower wings if you want some finger food with a spicy kick.
This recipe is designed to have cashews in it. The texture and consistency won't be the same if you omit them.
If you want your cheese to be more firm, add a higher ratio of cashews and replace some of the milk with refined coconut oil.
The best plant milk is dependent on your personal preference. You just want to have a neutral taste and creamy consistency. We prefer using soy milk for this, but have also use coconut milk.
Yes. The cheese must set in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, but it's best to leave it overnight.