5 Ingredient Tofu Cream Cheese, 4 Ways
September 19, 2018

5 Ingredient Tofu Cream Cheese | The Full Helping

It’s only Wednesday, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. It’s been a long week, and for the first time since my DI started, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I miss my routines and the freedoms of my old schedule, and suddenly the year ahead of me feels very long.

Through all of the recent transition, I’ve been holding onto the routines and constancy that I can. Not surprisingly, food is something I can rely on to feel familiar and comforting, just as it was during my post-bacc and the start of graduate school. It’s helpful to breathe, to talk to friends, to unwind with a show or a book. But nothing keeps me grounded more than cooking and eating.

This super simple, 5-ingredient tofu cream cheese has been keeping me good company in the past four weeks. I’m a longtime fan of Tofutti—in spite of all the new vegan cream cheese options on the market, it’s my enduring favorite—and when I recently ground tofu up in my food processor to make plant-based meatballs, it occurred to me how easy it would be to make my own dip/spread/cream cheese option.

It was even easier and more of a success than I thought. My mixture doesn’t quite taste like the stuff on the market, but it works. It’s salty and a little cheesy, plenty spreadable, and incredibly easy to make. I like it plain, but I’m offering you three additional options depending on how you like your cream cheese: sun-dried tomato, dill, and chive.

For all versions, I used a bit of umeboshi plum vinegar. It’s not my trick-of-the-trade: a while back, I remember seeing a tofu spread in a macrobiotic cookbook that used umeboshi for saltiness and acid. I decided to try it, and I loved what it did for the recipe: the taste is hard to describe, but it’s both very salty and very sour. If you need or want to replace the vinegar, no problem: extra lemon and salt will do the trick. But it’s a cool ingredient to have on hand; I’ve used it to season boiled cabbage, brown rice, and even salad dressings.

I also added a bit of nutritional yeast to the recipe, which contributes umami and a touch of cheesy flavor. If you love nooch as much as I do, you can add more than the suggested 1-2 tablespoons. I tend to have a pretty heavy hand with nutritional yeast, but I used only a tablespoon and a half here so that the flavor wouldn’t overwhelm the spread. After all, cream cheese is usually pretty neutral.

5 Ingredient Tofu Cream Cheese | The Full Helping

5 Ingredient Tofu Cream Cheese, 4 Ways

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 15- ounce block extra firm tofu gently pressed to remove moisture
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons umeboshi plum vinegar substitute lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon extra salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Optional mix-ins:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion tops
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes not oil packed, hydrated in warm water and drained if necessary, chopped


  • Blend all of the base ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S blade or a high speed blender till smooth (at least 2 minutes in a food processor). Taste; adjust lemon and salt as desired. Pulse or fold in your mix-ins of choice. Cream cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

5 Ingredient Tofu Cream Cheese | The Full Helping

No need to follow my flavoring or mix-in suggestions for the recipe. I chose the cream cheese flavors I’ve always loved in the past (since my undergrad days, when the local deli just so happened to carry at least 4 tofu cream cheese flavors), but you could choose different herbs or vegetables. I’d love to try a sweet version with berries or baked/stewed apples sometime, too.

As for serving this stuff, my comfort food option of choice is most definitely a bagel (the ones pictured are sprouted wheat bagels from Silver Hills). But I also like the spread on regular toast, or stuffed into a wrap with roasted veggies. It’s a pretty great snack dip, too, and I’m sure it’ll be a nice hummus alternative in the year to come!

Wishing all of you—and wishing myself—a calm, grounded conclusion to this week. See you soon, for weekend reading.


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  1. […] Tofu cream "cheese" is made with silky/firm tofu, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, sugar and salt, making it okay for most dietary restrictions; it's gluten free, dairy free, and vegan friendly. Tofu spread is thick and creamy, and can be used in sweet and savory dishes, just like cream cheese. […]

    • Hi Autumn! It’s not quite the same, because the plum vinegar is super salty. So you can make the swap, but you may need to add some salt to taste 🙂

    • Hi there!

      I’m honestly not sure—I’ve only used commercial vegan cream cheese in cheesecake recipes. You can certainly try, but I can’t promise the results! If it works out, let me know. Thanks for reading.


  2. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this!!! Since going plant based 10 months ago we havent missed any cheese or dairy but lately have felt like something was missing from our sourdough bagel consumption. Did a garlic and dillweed version and i cannot wait to try others.

  3. 5 stars
    Dear Gena, wanted to let you know I made this to share at a little art reception we had in our neighborhood for an art show my neighbor and I have up. Not a vegan in the house but me, and the crowd LOVED this spread. One person even took some home with her to have in her lunch the next day. I just sent her the link to the recipe. <3 Thanks for being a part of a really fun time! Sold six paintings! xoxo

  4. Gena–this looks fab! And so easy! I am a big fan of a splash of umeboshi plum vinegar here and there, so I totally get how this could make this recipe pop! I will have to try it when the kids come out next. Sorry to hear you’re feeling overwhelmed. Glad you’re calling on known comforts to help you through ((hugs)). You can do this!! Thank you from another friend who feels a bit overwhelmed herself xoxo