Vegan Cream Cheese Recipe - Elavegan (2024)

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5 from 14 votes

This easy vegan cream cheese is creamy, tangy, and made with just a few base ingredients + an optional Chimichurri spice blend to make herbed cream cheese! It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, and oil-free!

Vegan Cream Cheese Recipe - Elavegan (1)

Easy Vegan Cream Cheese (Multiple Ways)

Admittedly, it’s been quite some time (almost 12 years) since I first turned vegan. However, over the last decade, this lifestyle/ diet has blown up in a BIG way. And I, in no way, feel like I’m overstating that these days following a vegan diet in no way means having to give up your favorite foods – like bacon, chocolate, cheese, and cream cheese!

And yes, commercial vegan products are becoming REALLY impressive now, too. But even for those looking to save money and avoid overly processed foods, healthy and delicious homemade versions are well within reach. I’ve already shared recipes for vegan cottage cheese, ricotta, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and a 3-minute cheese sauce (queso). Now, it’s the turn of this quick and easy vegan cream cheese!

With just 5 ingredients, a blender or food processor, and just minutes of hands-on prep, you have everything required to create a delicious dairy-free cream cheese. Just soak the sunflower seeds (or cashews), blend them with the remaining ingredients, and voilà – a simple and delicious substitute for cream cheese, perfect for spreading over bagels, baguette, wraps, and more.

Personally, I highly recommend taking this vegan cream cheese recipe one step further with my homemade chimichurri spice blend. It makes it taste similar to Provence Herbs flavored Bresso cream cheese! Plus, check out the FAQs for even more ideas to customize the flavor of this cream cheese substitute to your liking.

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The Ingredients

The Basic Vegan Cream Cheese

  • Sunflower seeds: I used sunflower seeds to make nut-free vegan cream cheese. However, you can use cashews for an even creamier dairy-free cream cheese. Soaked macadamia nuts or almonds might work, too.

If you use cashew nuts, I recommend using less water. About ¼ cup (60ml) per cup of nuts.

  • Nutritional yeast: (Optional) Adds a nutty, cheesy flavor and umami. Alternatively, use white miso (or a combination of the two).
  • Sea salt & black pepper: Season the vegan cream cheese to taste.
  • Lemon juice: (or lime juice) This provides a tangy flavor similar to dairy cream cheese. Alternatively, you could use distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or pickling brine. Create depth by using a combination of two.

You’ll also need a small amount of olive oil (for the container) to make molded vegan cream cheese.

Chimichurri Spice Blend

  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Dried parsley
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Red pepper flakes

Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.

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How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese?

  • First, soak the sunflower seeds (or cashews) in cold water overnight or hot water for an hour. Then drain and rinse them well.
  • Next, combine all the cream cheese ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pause the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides. This process can take a couple of minutes, depending on your desired texture.

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  • Meanwhile, combine the chimichurri spices (if using) in a small bowl and stir well. Once the sunflower seed cheese is smooth, add about 1 ½ tablespoons of the spice blend to the cream cheese and pulse two to three times to mix it (or use a spoon to stir).

You can either enjoy the soft cheese immediately OR make a molded version:

  • Lightly grease a small bowl or ramekin (mine was about 4-4 1/2 inches big) with the oil, then sprinkle the bowl with the remaining Chimichurri spice blend.
  • Transfer the herbed cream cheese to the bowl, smooth the top with a spatula, then transfer it to the refrigerator to chill for at least a few hours or overnight.

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  • To de-mold, gently run a knife around the outside to loosen it, invert it onto a plate, shake it gently a few times, then remove the mold (refer to video).

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How to Serve Vegan Cream Cheese?

I’ve found that this non-dairy cream cheese substitute works best as a ‘spread’. Some of my favorite uses include:

  • With crackers, crudités (veggies), and a vegan cheeseboard/ charcuterie board
  • Spread overketo bread, toast, bagels, etc.
  • Slathered into wraps
  • To make cheeseballs or a cheese dip
  • Dollop onto pizza and flatbread
  • Use it to stuff pasta in place of ricotta cheese orin a vegan lasagna
  • In vegan eggplant stacks

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Storage Instructions

Store: You can store any leftover cream cheese spread in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. It will taste even better on day two.

Freeze: This dairy-free cream cheese is technically freezable for 2-3 months, though it will likely need to be re-blended upon thawing as it may separate slightly.

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FAQs

Is cream cheese vegan?

No, traditionally, cream cheese is made from dairy cream. However, with just a few simple ingredients, you can make the healthiest cream cheese without dairy by using sunflower seeds or cashews as a base.

How else could I flavor vegan cream cheese?

There are plenty of ways to flavor this vegan cream cheese recipe to your liking, such as:

  • Fresh chives + onion powder
  • Garlic powder + cayenne pepper
  • Garlic and herb seasoning
  • Italian seasonings + garlic powder
  • Dried dill – optionally with some garlic powder and onion powder
  • Finely minced jalapeño + cilantro + lime zest
  • Sun-dried tomatoes + minced olives + basil

Can I use this vegan cream cheese for baking and desserts?

This herbed cream cheese, even when plain, works best as a ‘shmear.’ If you want dairy-free cream cheese to make cheesecakes or frosting, use a commercial version or try my cashew cream frosting.

Why is my plant-based cream cheese grainy?

This primarily depends on how long you blend it (and if you’ve soaked the seeds/cashews for long enough beforehand). Generally, I don’t mind it being a little grainy, but you can make it as smooth and creamy as blended cashew cream.

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Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Don’t skip the soaking step: This not only helps soften the seeds, but also makes them easier to digest and have a milder flavor, too (perfect for transforming into vegan cheese).
  • For creamier cream cheese: Make sure it’s thoroughly blended until smooth, then optionally add dairy-free milk (use canned coconut milk for the creamiest results- it also thickens when chilled), 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • For firmer cream cheese: Transfer it to the fridge to chill for several hours.
  • Experiment with flavor variations: There are plenty of ways to experiment with this dairy-free, lactose-free cream cheese recipe. Refer to the FAQs for some of my favorite flavor combinations.
  • Blender vs. food processor: A high-speed blender provides the smoothest results, though a food processor works too. It’s just slightly more grainy.

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More Vegan Cheesy Recipes

  • Vegan Parmesan Cheese
  • Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Vegan Mac And Cheese
  • Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
  • Vegan Chili Cheese Fries
  • Broccoli Cheese Soup

If you try this easy vegan cream cheese recipe, I’d love a comment and★★★★★recipe ratingbelow. Also, please don’t forget totag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebookwith@elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing them.

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Vegan Cream Cheese

Author: Michaela Vais

This easy vegan cream cheese is smooth, creamy, tangy, and made with just 3 base ingredients + an optional chimichurri spice blend to take it to the next level! It’s gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, & oil-free!

5 from 14 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 0 minutes mins

Total Time 15 minutes mins

Ingredients

Vegan Cream Cheese

Chimichurri spice blend:

Instructions

  • You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.

  • First, soak the sunflower seeds (or cashews) in cold water overnight or hot water for an hour. Then drain and rinse them well.

  • Next, combine all the cream cheese ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pause the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides. This process can take a couple of minutes, depending on your desired texture.

  • Meanwhile, combine the chimichurri spices (if using) in a small bowl and stir well. Once the sunflower seed cream cheese is smooth, add about 1½ tablespoons of the spice blend to the cream cheese and pulse two to three times to mix it (or use a spoon to stir).

  • You can either enjoy the soft cheese immediately OR make a molded version:

    Lightly grease a small bowl or ramekin (mine was about 4-4½ inches big) with the oil, then sprinkle the bowl with the remaining Chimichurri spice blend.

  • Transfer the vegan cream cheese to the bowl, smooth the top with a spatula, then transfer it to the refrigerator to chill for at least a few hours or overnight.

  • To de-mold, gently run a knife around the outside to loosen it, invert it onto a plate, shake it gently a few times, then remove the mold (refer to video).

  • Serve with crackers and bread then enjoy!

Notes

  • Sunflower seeds: You can use cashews (make sure to soak them too) for a creamier result, however, I recommend using less water, about ¼ cup (60ml) per cup of nuts.
  • Chimichurri spice blend: Leave it out if you prefer a plain vegan cream cheese.
  • The total time doesn't include chill time.

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Cream Cheese

Amount per Serving

Calories

112

% Daily Value*

Fat

9

g

14

%

5

%

Sodium

149

mg

6

%

Potassium

160

mg

5

%

Carbohydrates

5

g

2

%

Fiber

2

g

8

%

Sugar

1

g

1

%

Protein

5

g

10

%

Vitamin A

61

IU

1

%

Vitamin C

1

mg

1

%

Calcium

19

mg

2

%

Iron

1

mg

6

%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically

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