Veganism has taken the culinary world by storm, offering plant-based alternatives to beloved dairy products that satisfy ethical and dietary preferences. One such delight that has gained immense popularity is vegan cream cheese. Creamy, dreamy, and entirely dairy-free, this versatile spread opens up a world of possibilities for vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals, all while reducing the environmental impact of traditional cream cheese production.
Crafting your vegan cream cheese not only allows you to control the ingredients but also lets you tailor the flavours to your liking. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan, an occasional plant-based eater, or simply looking to expand your culinary repertoire, this homemade vegan cream cheese recipe will inspire you to create a delectable, dairy-free delight in the comfort of your kitchen.
This guide will take you through the step-by-step process of making vegan cream cheese. We’ll explore the ingredients and equipment you need, share expert tips for achieving the perfect texture and flavour, and provide creative serving suggestions to elevate your vegan spread game.
How Do You Make Vegan Cream Cheese?
Making vegan cream cheese is a straightforward process that involves blending a few key ingredients to achieve a creamy and tangy dairy-free spread. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
For the Base: 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked either overnight or quick-soaked in hot water for 1-2 hours – Cashews provide the creamy texture and richness.
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or any non-dairy milk of your choice – Adds creaminess to the mixture.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice – Gives it a tangy flavour reminiscent of traditional cream cheese.
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar – Enhances the tanginess.
For Flavour and Seasoning:
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast – Provides a cheesy flavour.
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder – Adds a subtle garlic note.
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder – Enhances the savoury aspect.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste – Adjust according to your preference.
- Optional: Fresh herbs like chives, dill, or parsley for additional flavour and garnish.
For Consistency (Adjust as Needed): Extra water or almond milk – To adjust the thickness as desired.
1. Soak the Cashews:
- Place the 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews in a bowl.
- Cover the cashews with water.
- Allow them to soak overnight for the creamiest texture. Alternatively, you can quick-soak them by pouring hot water over the cashews and letting them sit for 1-2 hours until they soften.
2. Drain and Rinse Cashews:
- After soaking, drain the cashews in a fine-mesh strainer or colander.
- Rinse them thoroughly under cold running water. This removes any residual starch and ensures a neutral flavour.
3. Prepare the Base:
- Add the soaked and rinsed cashews to a high-powered blender or food processor.
- Pour in the 1/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk or your choice of non-dairy milk.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for tanginess.
- Include 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to enhance the tangy flavour.
4. Blend the Base:
- Start blending the mixture at high speed until it becomes creamy and smooth.
- Depending on your blender or food processor, this may take a few minutes. You may need to pause and scrape down the sides as needed to ensure even blending.
5. Add flavour and Seasoning:
- Incorporate 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to give the cream cheese a cheesy flavour.
- Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder for a subtle garlic note.
- Include 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder for extra savoury depth.
- Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or adjust to taste.
5. Adjust Consistency:
- If the cream cheese is thicker than your preference, add extra water or almond milk, a tablespoon at a time.
- Blend briefly after each addition until you reach your desired consistency.
6. Taste and Adjust:
- Taste the cream cheese and adjust the salt and seasoning as needed.
- For additional tanginess, you can add more lemon juice according to your preference.
7. Optional: Add Fresh Herbs:
- For added flavour and a fresh touch, fold in finely chopped fresh herbs like chives, dill, or parsley.
8. Chill and Serve:
- Transfer the vegan cream cheese to an airtight container.
- Refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving. This chilling time allows the flavours to meld and the texture to firm up.
- Use your homemade vegan cream cheese as a spread on bagels, toast, or crackers.
- It’s also versatile for dipping vegetables or as an ingredient in various recipes, such as vegan cheesecake or stuffed mushrooms.
Vegan cream cheese is a versatile dairy-free alternative that can be used in various ways to add creaminess and flavour to your dishes. Here are some serving suggestions and ideas for using vegan cream cheese:
- Bagels: Spread vegan cream cheese on your favourite toasted bagel. Top it with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, capers, and fresh dill for a classic bagel topping.
- Toast: Spread it on toast and top with sliced avocado, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil for a quick and satisfying breakfast or snack.
- Sandwiches: Use vegan cream cheese as a spread in sandwiches and wraps. It pairs well with roasted vegetables, lettuce, and other fresh veggies.
- Dips: Incorporate vegan cream cheese into creamy dips. Mix it with herbs, spices, and your choice of vegetables, or create a vegan spinach and artichoke dip.
- Stuffed Peppers: Make stuffed bell peppers with a filling that includes vegan cream cheese, cooked quinoa or rice, vegetables, and seasonings.
- Sushi Rolls: Use vegan cream cheese as a creamy element in homemade sushi rolls. Combine it with avocado, cucumber, and other fillings.
- Pasta Sauce: Add a spoonful of vegan cream cheese to your pasta sauce to make it creamy and rich. It works well in tomato-based sauces or in vegan Alfredo-style sauces.
- Salads: Create creamy salad dressings by blending vegan cream cheese with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, and a bit of water. Drizzle it over salads for added flavour.
- Stuffed Mushrooms: Make stuffed mushrooms by mixing vegan cream cheese with breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, and spices. Fill the mushroom caps and bake until they’re golden brown.
- Veggie Platter: Serve vegan cream cheese alongside a platter of fresh vegetables like carrot sticks, celery, bell pepper strips, and cherry tomatoes for a tasty dip.
- Vegan Cheesecake: Use vegan cream cheese to make a dairy-free cheesecake. There are many recipes available online for both baked and no-bake versions.
- Fruit Dip: Make a sweet dip by blending vegan cream cheese with a bit of maple syrup or agave nectar. It pairs wonderfully with fresh fruit like strawberries, apples, and bananas.
- Sauces and Gravies: Use vegan cream cheese to thicken and add creaminess to sauces and gravies for dishes like vegan mashed potatoes or creamy pasta dishes.
- Stuffed French Toast: Spread vegan cream cheese between slices of bread for stuffed French toast. Dip the stuffed slices in a vegan batter and cook until golden brown.
- Vegan Quesadillas: Use vegan cream cheese as a creamy component in vegan quesadillas, along with vegetables, beans, and vegan cheese.
Homemade vegan cream cheese is a delightful dairy-free alternative that brings creamy, tangy goodness to your kitchen. By following this simple recipe, you can enjoy a versatile spread that satisfies your taste buds and aligns with ethical and dietary preferences.
Crafting your own vegan cream cheese empowers you to tailor the flavours to your liking and experiment with various seasonings and add-ins. The possibilities are endless, from spreading it on bagels to using it as a dip for fresh vegetables or incorporating it into recipes.
As you venture into homemade vegan cuisine, remember that creativity knows no bounds. Your vegan cream cheese can be the foundation for various delicious dishes, from appetisers to desserts. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or exploring plant-based options for the first time, this creamy delight will become a staple in your culinary repertoire.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Make A Sweet Version Of Vegan Cream Cheese?
Absolutely! To make a sweet version, add a sweetener of your choice, such as maple syrup or agave nectar, and additional flavourings like vanilla extract or lemon zest. Adjust the ingredients to your taste.
What Dishes Can I Make With Vegan Cream Cheese?
You can use vegan cream cheese as a spread for bagels and toast, a dip for veggies, a filling for stuffed mushrooms, an ingredient in vegan cheesecakes, a base for salad dressings, and more. Let your creativity run wild!
Is Vegan Cream Cheese Suitable For A Gluten-Free Diet?
Yes, this vegan cream cheese recipe is typically gluten-free. However, always check the labels of the specific ingredients you use to ensure they are gluten-free if you have dietary restrictions.
Can I Make A Nut-Free Version Of Vegan Cream Cheese?
Yes, you can try using a combination of silken tofu and a non-dairy yoghurt or creamer as a base for a nut-free vegan cream cheese. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.