The Best Vegan Cream Cheese

By Jessica Hylton -

Learn how to make creamy Vegan Cream Cheese with this easy step-by-step guide! Homemade cream cheese is so rich and smooth. It’s perfect for breakfast bagels, snacks, and more!

Plain cream cheese with bagels on a cutting board.

Making your own cream cheese probably sounds pretty labor-intensive, but it’s not, I promise! Basically all you need to do is blend the ingredients together, and then patiently wait for the mixture to settle.

But, more on this later. For now, let’s talk about the amazing qualities/versatility of cream cheese!

I love being vegan, but, before this recipe, I’ll admit that I missed being able to enjoy cream cheese! Now, I don’t have to because this Vegan Cream Cheese is just as smooth and delicious as regular cream cheese is. There’s another promise.

Vegan yogurt and raw cashews combine to create a creamy homemade cream cheese that you can use in pretty much anything! Cheesecakes, frosting, on bagels… you name it, this cream cheese can do it!

Cream cheese on an everything bagel.

Why Make Your Own Cream Cheese?

There are so many reasons to make your own cream cheese. The main reason is because it is SO tasty. You’ll want to eat it right out of the glass/jar. (I did, anyway!) Here are a couple more reasons to keep in mind:

  • You Know Exactly What’s In It: The best part of making any meal/recipe yourself is that you know exactly what went into it. This vegan cream cheese is no different, in that regard. There are just 5 simple ingredients in this recipe.
  • It’s Easy: I wasn’t kidding when I said basically all you have to do is blend the ingredients. The prep work in this recipe won’t take you more than 5-10 minutes, and then it’s just a matter of waiting while the recipe settles.
  • It’s a Low-Cost Recipe: Not only is this recipe healthy, it’s also very budget-friendly! Recipes that keep shopping lists short and include low-cost ingredients (like plain yogurt) are the best. 🙂
Ingredients for vegan cream cheese.

Notes on Ingredients

Let’s go over the 5 aforementioned ingredients. They may not seem like they could yield such creamy deliciousness, but I’m here to report that they can!

These are the essentials in question:

  • Raw Cashews: Soak them overnight and then drain and rinse them before starting.
  • Water: I usually do room temperature water, but it doesn’t really matter. You just want to ensure it’s filtered water.
  • Yogurt: Use any kind of plain vegan yogurt that you have on hand/in your local store. I also have a cashew yogurt recipe you could try here.
  • Lemon Juice: Use the juice of a fresh lemon if you can, but freshly bottled works too.
  • Sea Salt: To provide/enhance flavor in your cream cheese.

How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese

Blend the Ingredients: In a high speed blender, blend all the ingredients together until blended and completely creamy, smooth and incorporated. Scrape down the sides if needed, and blend until combined.

Transfer to a Bowl: Pour the contents into a very clean and dry glass bowl or tall jar using a silicone spatula or wooden spatula (not metal). Smooth it down.

Vegan cream cheese in a glass bowl.

Let the Cream Cheese Sit: Cover the bowl/jar with some cheesecloth or even a clean dry paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Place in a warm, dry place. (See notes below for tips on this.) Leave the cream cheese undisturbed as much as possible for 24-48 hours. I recommend leaving it for the full 48 hours.  

Covered cream cheese in a bowl.

Stir the Cream Cheese and Chill It: The mix should be much thicker now and taste a lot cheesier. Stir to combine fully. Cover the jar/bowl or transfer to a new clean jar/bowl and cover and place in your fridge. It should also thicken up in the fridge and you can start using it now!

Taste and Adjust: Taste your cream cheese and add more salt if desired. If you want your cream cheese any thinner, strain/drain it in cheesecloth or paper towel or a fine mesh colander for about 30 minutes to strain off any extra liquid.

Tips for Success

See what I mean about how the majority of this process is just waiting? That said, I do have some extra tips on how to create the best possible homemade vegan cream cheese:

  • How to Blend the Ingredients: For the first step, I prefer to use a smaller blender and a tamper to get all of the ingredients mixed in.
  • How to Tell if There is Mold on Your Cream Cheese: If you see a small, slightly yellow film on top, that is normal. If you see any pink spots, that is mold and you should discard it all. This will usually happen if some of your equipment isn’t clean, so give it all a good scrub before using.
  • Chill Your Cream Cheese Before Using: As stated above, this makes the cream cheese nice and thick for spreading on your favorite bagels, crackers, etc.
  • Where to Leave Your Cream Cheese for the 24-48 Hours: If you live in a tropical country, you can leave it on your countertop. If you don’t, place it in your oven with the oven OFF and the oven light on (do not place it right after cooking something, this will be too hot).
Bagels with cream cheese and cucumber slices.

Variation Ideas

If plain cream cheese isn’t your thing, that’s okay! You can always jazz it up with some add-ins. These are a few of my favorite variations when it comes to cream cheese:

  • Swirl in Fruit: I like to add in chopped strawberries sometimes to make strawberry cream cheese! Feel free to try other fruits, too.
  • Do a Chives and Garlic Flavor: Add in 1 tbsp dried chives, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, and a pinch of salt to swirl in! THIS is my favourite way to enjoy it!
  • Make it Cheesy: Adding in some nutritional yeast makes for an even cheesier flavor.
Cream cheese with chives and garlic.

Ways to Use It

There are practically endless ways to use cream cheese in your daily life! Here are a few of my favorite ways:

  • In Cheesecakes: Vegan cream cheese can help you make a fabulous vegan cheesecake!
  • On Bagels: This smooth, cheesy spread goes great on a toasted bagel, or just a regular piece of toast.
  • In Dips: There are some creamy dip recipes that call for cream cheese, so this vegan cream cheese can probably work as a substitute, if needed.

How to Store Homemade Cream Cheese

Keep your homemade cream cheese in an airtight container/jar in the fridge, for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for a month or so, but note that it will lose some of its creaminess.

Cream cheese on a bagel cut in half.
Plain cream cheese with bagels on a cutting board.

The Best Vegan Cream Cheese

Learn how to make creamy Vegan Cream Cheese with this easy step-by-step guide! Homemade cream cheese is so rich and smooth. It's perfect for breakfast bagels, snacks, and more!
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 2 days
Total Time 2 days 10 minutes
Servings 6
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons plain vegan yogurt
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions

Instructions

  • In a high speed blender, blend all the ingredients together until blended and completely creamy, smooth and incorporated. Scrape down the sides if needed, and blend to combine. I prefer to use a smaller blender for this, and a tamper to get all of the ingredients mixed in.
  • Pour the contents into a very clean and dry glass bowl or tall jar using a silicone spatula or wooden spatula (not metal). Smooth it down.
  • Cover the bowl/jar with some cheesecloth or even a clean dry paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Place in a warm, dry place. If you live in a tropical country, you can leave it on your countertop. If you don't, place it in your oven with the oven OFF and the oven light on (do not place it right after cooking something, this will be too hot). Leave the cream cheese undisturbed as much as possible for 24-48 hours. I recommend leaving it for the full 48 hours.
  • If you see a small slightly yellow film on top that is normal. If you see any pink spots, that is mold and you should discard it all. This will usually happen if some of your equipment isn’t clean, so give it all a good scrub before using.
  • The mix should be much thicker now and taste a lot cheesier. Stir to combine fully. Cover the jar/bowl or transfer to a new clean jar/bowl and cover and place in your fridge. It should also thicken up in the fridge and you can start using it now!
  • Taste your cream cheese and add more salt if desired. If you want your cream cheese any thinner, strain/drain it in cheesecloth or paper towel or a fine mesh colander for about 30 minutes to strain off any extra liquid.
NOTES
  • How to Blend the Ingredients: For the first step, I prefer to use a smaller blender and a tamper to get all of the ingredients mixed in.
  • How to Tell if There is Mold on Your Cream Cheese: If you see a small, slightly yellow film on top, that is normal. If you see any pink spots, that is mold and you should discard it all. This will usually happen if some of your equipment isn’t clean, so give it all a good scrub before using.
  • Chill Your Cream Cheese Before Using: As stated above, this makes the cream cheese nice and thick for spreading on your favorite bagels, crackers, etc.
  • Where to Leave Your Cream Cheese for the 24-48 Hours: If you live in a tropical country, you can leave it on your countertop. If you don’t, place it in your oven with the oven OFF and the oven light on (do not place it right after cooking something, this will be too hot).
Adapted and inspired from the book Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg
by Jessica

More Vegan Condiments & Spreads

If you like making your own vegan condiments and spreads, take a look at the following recipes:

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2 comments

  1. Keanai says:

    Hello Jessica,
    Thank you for the recipe!
    I was wondering if I can use my yogurt machine to leave the cheesecream in? Have you tried this before?

    Thanks a lot.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hi Keanai! Thanks so much for reading. We actually haven’t tried this before so I wouldn’t be able to advise you.

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