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Basic Raw Cashew Cheese

Appetizers & Snacks Dips and Spreads
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My father always tells me that happiness is tied up in expectations. If you keep your expectations in a realistic place, you are less likely to be disappointed. I have found this advice to be true in all aspects of life; and I offer it up today when making this cashew cheese. Don’t get me wrong -- this spread is absolutely scrumptious. But if you turn on your food processor expecting this to taste exactly like cheese made from cow’s milk, you might be a little disappointed. Conversely, if you think of it as a raw vegan allergy free alternative to dairy cheeses, or a delicious vegan spread to flavor dishes, you will be thrilled with the results.

People dipping into this “vegan cashew cheese” usually say the same thing when they come up for air - “Oh yum, this is delicious. But it doesn’t taste like cheese”. I should call it cashew spread. Then it would happily be accepted without judgement for the delectable treat that it is. Unlike my vanilla cashew cream and honey cashew cream, which taste pretty close to dairy cream, and have fooled many a cream dreamer at dessert time; I like to think of this cashew cheese as an “alternative” to conventional dairy cheese, rather than a “substitute” meant to replicate the taste and texture exactly.

For those of you not familiar with raw food -- pureed nuts and water are used to make what is commonly referred to as “cheese”. A variety of nuts and seeds are used with different herbs, spices and seasonings. These “nut cheeses” serve as a way of adding a creamy flavor and texture to raw vegan dishes. You can use raw almonds, raw macadamias, raw pine nuts, raw sunflower seeds and raw sesame seeds to make a myriad of raw vegan “cheeses”. But I find that cashews yield the best results when making neutral flavored spreads; and it is a favorite for most raw foodies and vegans making dairy alternatives.

“Oh, Happy Day” when I can throw cashews into any blend! They serve as a fabulous blank canvas begging for creativity and personality. This very basic cashew cream cheese is another example of this; and serves as a wonderful starting point for those of you who have never made raw vegan nut cheeses. There are hundreds of simple raw recipes out there using a base of cashews and filtered water. Just throw these two things into your blender or food processor and add any herbs, spices and sweeteners for different flavors. The sky is the limit. I have listed some quick and easy ideas underneath the basic recipe to get you started. I like to add lemon juice and nutritional yeast for a slight cheesy flavor with a bit of tang. If you want a really zesty cheese, add in some lemon zest as well. My penchant for garlic always sees me throwing a few cloves in for good measure. You can add in a little more nutritional yeast if you want a cheesier flavor; but too much will result in an undesirable after-taste. Blend and taste!

I typically like a rustic consistency for my cheeses, and normally use my food processor for greater control. But you can also use your blender. Just use the pulse setting or you will end up with cream! I like to keep this cashew spread the consistency of hummus or ricotta. It is like a cream cheese that is fantastic served on raw tacos, fajitas, veggie burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. It also makes a phenomenal dip served with vegetable sticks. It will keep in a sealed glass container in the fridge for about 5 days. There is always some cashew cheese in my fridge begging to be slathered! 

Blend up some raw nut spreads next time you want to get cheesy – all expectations aside, you won’t be disappointed.

Raw Vegan Cashew Cheese

Basic Raw Cashew Cheese

  • 2 cups raw cashews soaked in filtered water for 2 – 4 hours (soaking is optional)
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup filtered water as needed for desired consistency
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 to 4 cloves fresh garlic minced (depending on preference)
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
  1. Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, 1/2 of the water, 1/2 of the lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in the food processor and pulse until roughly blended.
  2. Gradually add in more lemon juice, garlic and salt to taste. I have listed granulated garlic as optional. I find this is a nice touch if you like a garlicky cheese.
  3. Transfer the cheese to a bowl, and stir through the parsley (if using). 

I like my cheese the consistency of ricotta. The more water you add, the creamier and thinner the cheese will become. Add less water for a thicker, more rustic cheese. Find your perfect blend.

For a different flavor omit the nutritional yeast, garlic and 1/2 of the lemon juice from the basic recipe and try adding and making:

Herb cheese:

  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

Tomato basil cheese:

  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Chilli chive cheese:

  • 1 – 2 tablespoons Chopped Chives
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

Chilli cheese:

  • 1 – 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • a pinch of red chile flakes or chopped fresh chile


  • 1 – 2 tablespoons freshly chopped fresh flat parsley
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle or 1/2 finely chopped jalapeno pepper or 1 serrano chile

Sweet cheese:

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon raw agave nectar

Truffle cheese:

  • 2 teaspoon truffle oil
  • freshly ground pepper

Sesame cheese:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini paste

The possibilities are endless, so have fun with it!

Tip: selecting and storing raw cashews

“Raw” cashews are widely available in pre-packaged bags as well as bulk bins. Always purchase from a supplier where there is a high turnover to ensure freshness and quality. Look for plump cashews that are uniform in colour. Avoid the limp and shrivelled ones. Cashews should smell nutty and sweet. If they have a sharp or bitter smell they have gone rancid. To preserve the precious oils, store cashews in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to six months. Always soak cashews before using to remove the enzyme inhibitors and make them more digestible.

Can you say “cheese”?? Call it what you want, but is is delicious!


I am confused when o i add the parsley and yeast flakes?

Sorry the recipe was confusing. I have amended the instructions to make it clearer. You put the yeast flakes in at the beginning, and you stir through the parsley at the end, if you choose.

How long does the cashew cheese last for?

I used the cashew cheese for the kale chips recipe and could not believe how delicious this was as a stand alone. I scraped out the “cheese” in my food processor with a few tortilla chips and had a tasty snack! Will be making this again!


Yes! I do that too :) SOOOO good.

This is so delicious. Have started taking it to work to eat with veggie sticks.


Oh great! I love that! Thanks for sharing :)

I wasn’t sure how to take this “cashew” cheese dish when my sister put it out with appetisers last night. But i was pleasantly surprised…it was so tasty!


Thanks for giving it a go, and taking the time to share your experience. Sometimes we get pleasant surprises with food don’t we?

ABSOLUTELY cheesy!  This is the first vegan cheese I’ve had that actually tastes like cheese!  Love, Love, Love!!!  About 114 calories per tablespoon!


Thankyou. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave that comment. I really like this blend too.

Have tried other recipes.  Will try these ones too. Looking forward to it.


Great! Can’t wait to hear what you think.

Love <3 My first go at cashew cheese was a total sucess. thanks for the recipe!! I will totally make this one ALL the time!


Yeah! SO happy your first experience was a success. Thanks for sharing :)

This is sooo easy! I’ve been wanting to try a nut cheese for ages and this was just perfect as it’s so straight forward, no fancy stuff required. Left some of the ingredients out as we didn’t have them. Still worked out fine. We pack the mix into a measuring cup filled with crushed nuts, spices, herbs, then tap it out - looks fabulous!


Hey Piggy Caroline!
Your site is amazing and that photo of your cashew cheese is GORGEOUS!
So glad you made that recipe your own, and so lovely to be connected!
Oink Oink

This stuff is awesome. So much better than the real deal! I want more!!!


Thankyou. So glad you enjoyed it.

Wow!  Absolutely Amazing!!  I used the garlic cheese recipe in a vegan lasagna dish last night and was amazed at what it brought to the flavor of the dish!!  It actually made the lasagna taste cheesy!!!!!  I can’t wait to try all the different types, love the garlic but want to try the herb cheese next!  :)


Hey Crystal,
I am so glad you liked the cashew cheese.
Let me know how you go with the other flavours.
If you are looking for more variety, try using macadamias and almonds for “cheese”. They are yummy too!!

soooo yummy!!!  this is such a great recipe to use for so many things!  pizza, lasagna, simply as a dip, etc.  mmmmmmm!!


Yes, you can use it in a ton of things. GREAT on kale chips too.

what about adding probiotics to it? I hear that gives it more of a cheese like taste?


Yes, I have heard about using probiotic powder to make things taste cheesier too.
I find that coconut kefir (which is loaded with probiotics) works wonders in recipes!!!!
Give that a go and let me know what you think.

I ferment mine with probiotics, it is amazing

I do that a lot, too. SO amazing. The flavor! Oh, YUM!

Looking forward to making this.  One question:  I don’t see the gluten-free icon up at the top for this recipe, but I’m not seeing anything in there that would constitute gluten.  Clarify?


Sorry AC. That is a mistake on my part. Every single recipe on this site is gluten free. I sometimes miss the button when I am tired. Thankyou so much for pointing this out to me. I really appreciate it. I have edited to add the GF icon. Enjoy :)

Made it! Loved it! Will keep it on hand from here on out! How long do you think it would stay good in thr fridge and is it ok to freeze? Thanks so much :)


Great! It stays in the fridge for about 5 days. I don’t freeze it because it gets watery.

Great! How long can you keep in fridge for?


This will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

Wow, this recipe is amazing. I made vegan quesadillas last night with roasted eggplant and peppers and this cheese substitute worked a charm, love it!


Oh. YUM! I am so pleased it was a hit. Thanks for sharing.

is it possible to substitute raw cashews for cashew meal?


I used 8 oz (weight) of cashew meal, and it worked well. I did add a bit more water than called for (maybe 2 T. extra) to reach the consistency I wanted.

Yes. Use raw cashews. Thanks for sharing your experience JD.

Impressed. Simple recipe. Fresh ingrediants. Wonderful taste. Cheers!


This is amazing stuff. I just added rosemary to the mix and had huge spoonfuls on top of a baked sweet potato with a broccoli salad. My cheese loving husband loved it too x


Oh yum! Yes, that’s the great thing about this cheese, you can add any flavours you like to it. SO yummy on potatoes. Tanks for sharing your experience.

Ahh I love this. I don’t do that well with nuts but I love cashews and cheese. Thanks for the recipe!


I made mac and cheese,and grill cheese sandwiches. My family loved it. It is a to die for recipe!!!!!


Mine was a bit too garlicky using 4 cloves.  Consistency of hummous. Couldn’t really think of it as cheese, I wanted to, but it did make it feel cheesy when I added it to macaroni pasta,  it was creamy. Will I crave this? Not really.  I did end up eating it all, like a piggy and gained 7 pounds this week as a result. Oink oink.  I should have made a half batch to protect myself from… Myself! I’ll try this recipe again, maybe I missed putting something in?

Glad you enjoyed it Emily. Vegan Shaman - you could culture this mixture for 24 to 48 hours for a more cheesy flavor, or add 1 teaspoon white miso paste.

Way too much lemon for me. Did not enjoy it at all. Would say use half the lemon recommended here.


OK. Thanks for the feedback :)

if you wanted to create a cream cheese type of experience, you would just add apple cider vinegar? what do you think? ps this is yummy as it is!!!


To make cream cheese I would make a very thick cashew cream in the blender with apple cider vinegar, white miso paste, lemon juice etc for the tang, and allow it to thicken in the fridge.

Is there any other nut that can be substituted in a recipe like this? I’m anaphylactic to cashews but I can eat other nuts (with the exception of walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts and pistachios)  This looks delicious, and I know of a lot of other recipes that use cashews to get a creamy texture.  Any suggestions?


You can make amazing cheese and sauces with pine nuts. That’s my favorite nut-free substitute.

I Substituted for Pistachios and it was really good :) . Thanks for the recipe


Oh yes! I just LOVE pistachio cheese. Sooooo good!

Sooooooo good.  I used the juice from my fermented garlic instead of water, tomato powder and fresh herbs.  I spread it on some Essene bread with sliced tomatoes and cracked pepper.  It was that good I felt like crying!  Best recipe for raw cheese I have found so far.


Oh! I am so pleased you enjoyed it. That is awesome. I’m going to try your tweaks. YUM!

this is the one i think i want to serve at a little party i am hosting. how many would you say your recipe serves as a snack buffet item? i also wonder if i can form it into a pretty loaf with herbs and edible flowers on top, if i use a bit less water. thoughts? (soaking my cashews to try tomorrow for “test run”!!)


Sorry for my delay in responding to this. I would say this recipe will serve 8 as a little snack or buffet item. You can absolutely make a loaf by making the mixture thicker and adding in herbs. I would also add in some chopped nuts and seeds. Enjoy!

Used this recipe to make a veggie pizza. It was delicious!


Awesome! Yes! I LOVE this on pizza!

Could nutbutters be used instead of nuts?


I find the butters just too goopy and creamy to get the right consistency. I like them a bit gritty.

Hi there!
This recipe looks great! Can I use instant dry yeast instead of nutritional yeast? It’s not available in my country. Thanks!


No, sorry Veronica. That won’t taste good and won’t taste cheesy. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand they’re labelled as “savoury yeast flakes” is that helps? You could also use 1 tablespoon white miso paste and add more to taste to get a cheesy flavor.

How do you culture this recipe for more “cheesy” taste? Could you please provide instructions?


You could stir in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon probiotic powder and keep the mixture at room temperature for 24 hours. Taste, and add lemon juice and salt to taste. Enjoy!

Thank you for this ideal recipe!  I added a single roasted red pepper, and the finished product is as good as the vegan red pepper dip sold for $8 at a local juice bar.  What’s better is that I can make it for my family, and they loved it!  A+


Finally I’ve found something that i was really looking for! This whole cashew cheese looks very adorable and I’m just looking forward to give it a try! Bless!


Can you make this without yeast? My body is happier without it. :-)


Hi, how long this cheese lasts in the fridge?


I love your recipe, but what should I do to make it more like a cheddar cheese, a cheese which I can slice and put it on pizza


Im on the path to becoming vegan and Im usually creative with new recipe ideas once I understand the basics. You have done a superb job of explaining the basics of nut cheese with variations and now I have the confidence to go wild with my imagination! Thanks from me, animals and the planet!


I am almost entirely vegan besides the cheese issue. It’s so hard to find vegan cheese that tastes good so I will be trying this! Thanks


After having life-changing vegan nachos at the Frontier Cafe in Brunswick, ME, I have been searching for a way to make them myself! This recipe is perfect (DELISH with some mango salsa on tortilla chips!)—and now I’ve fallen in love with nutritional yeast as a condiment, too. I use only one clove of garlic and a little extra nutritional yeast in my cashew spread (my friends get weirded out when I call it “cheese”) and I can’t stop eating it! I’m not a vegan and I think everyone should give this spread a try instead of turning up their noses at the idea of a “vegan cheese.” So glad I ended up at this recipe. What a wonderful dip to make at home—and so easy! Thanks so much, Blender Girl! I’ll have to check out the other recipes on your blog.


What makes this different from hummus? Also I had it and it was borderline whack.

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