This Savory roasted garlic cashew cream cheese recipe is a vegan treat. Spreadable, savory, and perfect on a bagel, crackers or as a dip for carrots and celery. Add fresh parsley or chives for herb and garlic cream cheese version the whole clan will love.
Please read the entire post for tips and tricks to ensure a perfect recipe every time. And don't forget to tag @peelwithzeal on Instagram so we can admire your creation!
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We have been wanting to experiment with dairy-free and vegan cheese making. I first saw this vegan blue cheese recipe over on Full of Plants. This site has a few aged and smoked vegan cheeses that I just can’t wait to try. But our past dairy-free cheesemaking attempts did not fare too well (recipes from a cookbook we had at home). Before trying again I thought I would try my hand with a basic cashew cheese that didn’t require aging.
After a few attempts I got my perfect cashew cream cheese consistency, but it needed a little something. I had several heads of roasted garlic leftover from our roasted garlic post. And a very yummy, and VERY garlicky, roasted garlic cream cheese was born. Or cream cheez if that is your vegan-thing.
Vegan Cream Cheese Ingredients & Substituions
You only need a few basic ingredients to make this recipe. The nice thing about this is that it relies on pantry staples. Another reason to embrace being dairy-free!
- Cashews- The base of this vegan cream cheese recipe is raw unsalted cashews. unfortunately, you can't substitute any other type of cashew. You could, however, substitute raw unsalted almonds. Organic is always best but we know that can get a little pricey and availability might be limited.
- Nutritional Yeast- A vegan cheese's best friend. Nutritional yeast is a vegan food product that is used for its natural savory cheese flavor. The active yeast cells are killed during manufacturing and not alive in the final product. There really is no good substitute. Fortunately, it is easy to find online and in most grocery stores.
- Lemon Juice- Fresh or bottles, both work in this recipe.
- Kosher Salt- With so few ingredients the salt really matters. Use a good quality kosher salt like Mortons or Diamon Crystal, not table salt.
- Cold Filtered Water- Because the raw cashews soak for so long it is important to properly filter your water. The water can, and will, affect the taste. A basic pitcher style water filter will work fine.
- Roasted Garlic- You need one head of garlic from our roasted garlic recipe. You can also use raw garlic for a less sweet, more pungent garlic flavor.
- Herbs- Personally I almost always add herbs to this recipe to make it an herb and garlic cream cheese. My go-to herbs are a mix of chives and parsley but the possibilities are endless. Basil, oregano, and chervil come to mind.
How to Make Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream Cheese
Like any cheese, vegan, or not, the hands-on time for this recipe is minimal but it does require a little preplanning before serving to ensure you have enough time to soak the cashews, roast the garlic and allow time for the cream cheese to chill.
Step 1: Start by soaking cashews in water for 12 hours. This makes them soft and makes the blending easier. While the cashews are soaking you will need to roast the garlic if you haven’t already done so. Our roasted garlic post has all the details covered.
Step 2: After draining the cashews, place all the ingredients, minus any herbs, in your food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the cashews and garlic. Blend on high until smooth. Scrapping down the sides, as needed. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to gain a smooth lump-free texture.
Step 3: If you are using fresh herbs to jazz up your cream cheese stir them in by hand at the end. Putting fresh herbs in the food processor will cause them to breakdown faster and the cheese to turn green. Season to taste with additional nutritional yeast.
Step 4: Chill for 4 hours prior to using. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to Use Cashew Cream Cheese
We ended making this recipe several times to get it just right. We were getting creative with vegan dishes to use up all the extra cream cheese. Some worked and some did not. Not at all. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Spread on morning toast or a bagel and sprinkle with chili flakes
- On a traditional cheese plate or antipasto platter so our vegan party guests could partake
- Mixed ¼ cup into warm marinara sauce and served over gluten-free pasta
- Spread on a roasted veggie sandwich
- Ate as a snack on crackers and with crudité
- Eat it with a spoon out of your fridge while wearing your PJs at 2 o’clock in the afternoon (don’t judge)
- As a cheesy filling for a mushroom quesadilla
- Stir a tablespoon into your vegetable bisque or tomato soup (this was a favorite!)
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Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream Cheese
- Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 12 hours. Drain and rinse.
- Add cashews to a food processor with the roasted garlic, water, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, and salt. Pulse to break up the cashews and garlic.
- Blend until smooth. Scrapping down the sides, as needed. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to gain a smooth lump free texture. Season to taste with additional nutritional yeast.
- If you are adding fresh herbs, stir them in by hand.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator. Chill for 4 hours prior to using.