Go-to Cashew Cheese Recipe
February 18, 2016

My go-to cashew cheese recipe | The Full Helping

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I’m a big fan of cashew cheese. It has found its way into countless lunchbowls, salads, pasta and grain dishes, collard wraps, and other recipes since I started blogging, and it remains one of my favorite ways to add flavor to dishes. When I mention cashew cheese to clients, it often tends to evoke raised eyebrows, or the quick disqualification of “oh, that sounds like a lot of work.” But making cashew cheese at home is really as simple as making hummus or bean dip or any other number of condiments. Today, I’m sharing my go-to cashew cheese recipe, the one I return to again and again (along with a few flavor options). I hope you’ll come to rely on it as much as I do!

My go-to cashew cheese recipe | The Full Helping

There are different approaches to making cashew cheese. Some folks like to use a high speed blender; I find that you have to add a lot of liquid to make the cheese blend properly, which results in something that’s closer to cashew cheese sauce than cashew cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with a cashew sauce).

So, I like to use my food processor, which creates a texture that falls someplace in between ricotta cheese and hummus. When I was working on Food52 Vegan, my editors asked me a few times what the perfect texture consistency for cashew cheese was. To some extent, this is a matter of preference–you might want to create a loose, creamy cashew cheese for folding into pasta, or you might prefer a really thick batch to crumble onto salads. But for the most part, what you want to whip up in the food processor should resemble a thick batch of hummus: smooth, but with a bit of coarse texture.

My go-to cashew cheese recipe | The Full Helping

Once you prepare the basic recipe I’m sharing today, you can start to modify it by adding your favorite herbs (I like to pulse in dill, chives, thyme, and herbes de Provence), spices (extra garlic powder and even a pinch of curry add tons of flavor), or dried fruit (cranberries make a great addition, especially for a holiday appetizer). The cashew cheese will keep for about 5-6 days in an airtight container in the fridge, so you can savor it in meals all week long.

Go-to Cashew Cheese Recipe

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Yields: 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 generous cup raw cashews soaked for at least 2 hours (up to 10, or overnight, is fine), drained, and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder for stronger garlicky flavor, use 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 crushed garlic clove instead
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water more as needed

Instructions

  • Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse repeatedly to break the cashews down, until they form a coarse, wet meal. Scrape the sides of the food processor down with a spatula.
  • Turn the motor of the processor on. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and let the cashews process for about 10 seconds. Stop and scrape the machine down again. Continue processing for a full 1-2 minutes, or until the cashew cheese is smooth and thick, adding a tablespoon of extra water if needed. The consistency should be a little bit like hummus (see photos of finished cashew cheese as a cue).
  • Taste the cashew cheese and add lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. If you like, pulse in fresh herbs or other flavorings. Serve. Cashew cheese will keep for up to 6 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

My go-to cashew cheese recipe | The Full Helping

Here you can see one of my most recent favorite ways to serve cashew cheese: as a base for oven charred carrots and a sprinkle of za’atar. It’s a perfect nibble to serve friends at a gathering or before a dinner, and the contrast between sweet, tender carrots and tangy cashew cheese is really irresistible.

Here are some of my other favorite recipes featuring cashew cheese:

Fennel salad with ancient grains and pomegranate seeds
Maple roasted acorn squash and red quinoa salad with baby kale and cashew cheese
Farro salad with roasted zucchini, herbed cashew cheese, and mint
Minted pea and cashew cheese crostini
Cucumber rounds with herbed dill cashew cheese

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to add homemade cashew to your own list of go-to condiments and toppings. Once you get in the swing of making it at home, you’ll find yourself wanting to put it in just about anything and everything. (Tonight, I’m planning to stir some into a batch of savory oats–why not?)

Enjoy your cashew cheese adventures, everyone. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new green recovery post.

xo

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    125 Comments
    • If you boil them, they’ll be ready faster for use (you’ll only have to soak them 1 hour). But plain water is fine if you have time to soak for 2 hours or more 🙂

    • Hi Renee, you can just omit it. It does add “cheesy” flavor, but the cashew cheese will still be tasty without it!

  1. This looks amazing. Can I use cashew butter and just add the remaining ingredients to make this?

    • I’ve never tried it, so I’m not sure! I worry that the texture would be very dense. But if you have success, let me know 🙂

  2. Just made this today! It’s amazing and better than anything I’ve bought! Thanks

  3. Can you mold this into a ball and put on a board or would you serve it in a bowl like a dip?

    • This one is a bit spreadable, so I’d probably serve it as a dip. You could use less water and serve it as a ball if you like!

  4. 5 stars
    Hi, Gena! Thank you for sharing this recipe! A week ago I tried it and it was so delicious! I have a question. Can you recommend the brand of nutritional yeast?

  5. 3 stars
    This recipe is a good starting point, i followed it to a tee at first and it was flavorless, after adding more salt, garlic powder and lemon juice – it was still needing something… enter 1 sundried tomato = game changer! YUM

    • I think raw is preferable, but I’ve used roasted in a pinch. It will taste a little roasted, but it’ll still have a nice creamy texture!

  6. […] While the recipe suggests 8-10 corn tortillas, I figured I'd hedge my bet and use traditional lasagna noodles. At least the kiddos know what those are, so that's one less thing for them to be “surprised” by when they bite into what dad said was supposed to be lasagna and it doesn't even have pasta in it! I also used this as an opportunity to whip-up a batch of “Go-to Cashew Cheese” by Gena Hamshaw of The Full Helping. You can find that terrific recipe here: https://www.thefullhelping.com/go-to-cashew-cheese-recipe/ […]

  7. 4 stars
    Hi Gena,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have a question: what is the purpose of adding “nutritional yeast?”
    I have never done it, will try very soon it seems delicious, and all the comments are very encouraging.

  8. I’m an omnivore living with a strict vegetarian. I love me some vegan food, but hate meat and dairy alternatives. This cashew cheese is not cheesy at all in my opinion, but it’s SO GOOD. It’s hummus-like in texture, and rich but modest taste. Great on chick peas. Thanks for the recipe!

      • 5 stars
        I made this cheese today and it’s really good! Thanks so much for this recipe. I added some cayenne, extra lemon juice and about 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard. Yum! I couldn’t wait to dip a chip in it. Thank you!

  9. 5 stars
    Hi Gena,

    This is an awesome recipe, I love this Cashew cheese. 🙂
    I’ve also featured this in our website Green Thickies latest post 10 Delicious Raw Vegan Cheese Recipes. Not the actual recipe, but only one image from here, a small quote and I have credited to you and linked back to this page.
    I hope that is okay with you.

    Thanks a lot 🙂
    Katherine
    Green Thickies

  10. I wonder why you say prep time 2 hours? It takes 10 mins to make and then leave to ferment for two hours b4 eating?
    Thanks,
    Veena

  11. 5 stars
    LOVE this recipe. I’ve made it every single week since I first tried it. So easy and I love it! I have it on toast and sprinkle a little cajun seasoning on top of, every morning! Absolutely wonderful!

  12. 5 stars
    Just made this on a whim on Sunday night, and it was INCREDIBLE! I also cut the salt, added paprika and increased both the nutritional yeast and lemon juice…and it was over the top! I’m making another batch in a few days and have spread the word of your lovely recipe to my friends. Thank you 🙂

    • You could add coconut or olive oil, sure. If you use a high speed blender, it will be even creamier, but I usually use a food processor because I find that it blends more readily.

  13. 5 stars
    Just made this with my Vitamix with 1/4 cup of water as written.
    It doesn’t like really thick like in the pictures, hopefully it will get thick in the refrigerator

    Thanks

  14. […] new jobs to apply for today, I decided to give it another go.  This time I’m trying a really simple recipe to make a cheese spread.  Of course…I forgot to soak my cashews!  I found a shortcut […]

  15. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe! I’ve made it two weeks in a row so far, and I put it on basically everything! I was just wondering if it freezes well? Thanks in advance!

  16. 5 stars
    This is great Gena–a fantastic staple. I added a little bit more nutritional yeast. Next time I will add some fresh herbs. Yum!

  17. I don’t have a food processor. Only a Ninja blender. So it’s the high pace kind. Would an Immersion Blender work better?

    • Hey Tinisha,

      Actually I think a Ninja will work well for this recipe. I’ve made it in a high speed blender with good results. Hope you enjoy it!

      G

  18. Did you use flake or powder nutritional yeast? I read somewhere that if flake is used, it requires more.

  19. I’m looking forward to making this recipe this week! Quick question – can this cheese be used in recipes that need to be baked (i.e. alongside sautéed veggies as an enchilada filling)? I only ask because when I’ve microwaved cashew cream before the texture has been ruined (hard and grainy), so I”m wondering if prolonged heat has a negative effect. I can always just dollop it on top afterwards, but vegan enchiladas might be an easier sell to my husband if there’s some creaminess inside 🙂 Thank you!

    • Hi Katie,

      I’ve had good luck spreading it on top of enchiladas and having it get a little browned in the oven — I haven’t had the hardness you mention, though it’s possible that the cheese gets a little more grainy. I think if you put it inside enchiladas and baked them you’d be in good shape, because the enchiladas would hold moisture in. I hope it works out!

      G

      • 5 stars
        I realize this was a few weeks ago, but wanted to let you know this cashew cheese was awesome in the enchiladas! Definitely a recipe I will come back to 🙂

          • 5 stars
            My girlfriend and I had Cashew Cheese last Wednesday in Victoria, Canada at a restaurant Nourish, we loved it. We ecstatic that we found your recipe and getting together tomorrow to try our hand at it. Hosting a Vegan dinner on the 13th for friends. Thanks

  20. Since I don’t have a processor, so you think grinding in a coffee grinder & then using a blender will give it that smooth texture?
    I definitely wanna give this a try..

    • 5 stars
      I made some using a blender. I put the blade attachment on a mason jar and blended the ingredients in the jar instead. It worked. Although I had to stop more often than I would if I had a food processor.

    • Hi Tommica,

      I’m really not sure — I’ve never tried a grinder. A blender might work on its own if you add enough water, though — and the cheese will thicken up in the fridge. Good luck!

      G

  21. 5 stars
    I am addicted – the only problem is how to stop eating it! Thank you it is delicious!

  22. I absolutely love cashew cheese. Thanks for the reminder. I tend to make things regularly for awhile and then get tired of them. I will try this next.

  23. This recipe is amazing OMG! I’m amazed! I’ve been a vegan for 2 months now, so I’ve been on the hunt for recipes that aren’t just “eh, that’s good for vegan food”, but that are actually good, for vegans and non-vegans. And this one definitely just earned a spot on my list. And to make it even better, it’s really easy to make! I’m not very experienced in the kitchen, but the recipe was very easy to follow and came out exactly as I expected from the pictures. And I was really glad that it actually had a very cheesy flavor, and I couldn’t taste the cashews at all. I don’t hate cashews, but I’m not a huge fan, but this is just perfect. Thank you so much! Will be making this regularly, my family also loved it!

  24. Is this something that you think can be put on pizza? Maybe just dollops of it? If so, would you add it before cooking the pizza or after?

    • Yes, I’ve tried it on pizza! You can add some dollops prior to cooking or after, but I prefer to add them prior, so that the cashew cheese becomes warm.

  25. I just made this and it’s wonderful. I have only a Vitamix, but I’m ok with the smooth texture. Thanks for a great recipe that I’m sure I’ll use over and over.

  26. This is far and away my fav cashew cheese spread recipe. Most others use Dijon which is too vinegar-y. I used fresh pressed garlic and fresh lemon juice. Totally scrumptious.

  27. 5 stars
    Just want to update that we’ve now made this every week for the past 7 weeks and it’s as tasty as ever! Normally I’d be sick of a repeat dish by now but this one is just so versatile. My SO and I love it with salads as some might use goat cheese! Thanks! Can’t wait to try your sunflower seed romesco once we get some peppers!

  28. 5 stars
    I wish more folks who have made this dish would comment. I’ve now made this twice based on the Healthy Librarian’s recommendation. It’s delicious! The flavors marry in a way that I could not predict reading the ingredient list. I wouldn’t call it “cheese” in the presence of non-vegans but it stands tall on its own merits as a spread or condiment. I love it as a spread on toasted bread and generously dolloped onto bowls of quinoa, beans, and veggies. Also good as a dip for crackers and pretzels but it seems like a waste to use it for this! I made it exactly as described except I used heaping tablespoons of unfortified nutritional yeast and heaping 1/4 tsp of black pepper. Everyone in our house loves it. I will make again and again! Thanks!

    • I’m so glad you like it! I agree: the final product really feels like more than the sum of its parts, and it’s so versatile. I do know what you mean about using the word “cheese”–it evokes some very definite expectations–but hopefully it gives folks some cues on what to expect. Enjoy the recipe 🙂

  29. 5 stars
    Yum! I love cashew cheese – I have no idea how I survived without it for all these years. Thanks for debunking the myths that it’s either difficult to make or just weird, it’s actually so much better than dairy cheeses. Even my meat & dairy loving fiancee enjoys cashew based creamy cheeses the most 🙂 Thanks for the mix-in tips! I love how versatile this recipe is – my favorite add-in is actually roasted garlic (we love that stuff).

  30. 5 stars
    Great recipe, I love cashew cheese too! I also prefer to use the food processor, the texture and consistency is really much better that way.
    And those charred carrots, wow, beautiful presentation ♥︎ Pinned.

  31. HI Gena–what a great no-nonsense approach to cashew cheese. I, too, am a fan of using the food processor for all manner of things like this. It looks yummy and obviously it’s extremely versatile. Thank you! xo

  32. This is great, Gena! I bet this cheese would be great with herbs and chives, like a spreadable herb dip I’ve seen at parties. And good call making it in the food processor – when I make cashew cheese in the blender I definitely need to add more water than I’d like to make it blend properly. This is a much better technique 🙂