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 flavour dishes, you will be thrilled with the results.

Greedy snouts 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 flavour 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 flavoured spreads; and it is a favourite 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 (I like to use my Vitamix) or food processor and add any herbs, spices and sweeteners for different flavours. 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 flavour 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 flavour; but too much will result in an undesirable after-taste. Once again, let your snout lead the way. 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

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  • 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
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp 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.

For a different flavour 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 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Tomato basil cheese:

  • 1 tsp organic tomato paste
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Chilli chive cheese:

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

Chilli cheese:

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes or chopped fresh chilli

or

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp freshly chopped fresh flat parsley
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle or 1/2 finely chopped jalapeno pepper or 1 serrano chilli

Sweet cheese:

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

Truffle cheese:

  • 2 tsp truffle oil
  • freshly ground pepper

Sesame cheese:

  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp tahini paste

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!

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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.

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!

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Yes! I do that too :) SOOOO good.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!!!

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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!  :)

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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!!

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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?

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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.

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?

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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 :)

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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?

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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!

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

is it possible to substitute raw cashews for cashew meal?

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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!

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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

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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!

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