DIY Recipe: Spreadable Soft Cashew Cheese

DIY Recipe: Spreadable Soft Cashew Cheese

It is rare that I make something once and share it straight away, but I was so impressed by this recipe that I simply had to. Soft, spreadable and cheesy tasting, this simple blend of cashews and a few other things is a taste explosion, I promise.

If you’ve avoiding dairy, want to eat more plants or like trying new things in the kitchen, this is for you.

I’ve been wanting to experiment with making plant-based cheeses for a while, and I actually decided to go to a workshop to get started. (I went to one of the workshops at the Raw Kitchen in Freo.) Whilst I’m not afraid to experiment, plant-based cheese uses big quantities of nuts and I am afraid of buying ingredients and then throwing them in the compost.

The workshop allowed me to taste and smell and feel the texture of the different things we made – something I’d never glean from a recipe. Definitely worthwhile.

This cheese recipe is a slightly-tweaked-but-mostly-intact recipe from that workshop.

You’ll need to allow a couple of days from start to finish (but don’t panic, the actual making time is about 5 minutes. The rest is waiting around). You’ll also need a high powered blender or a food processor for best results, but it should still work without.

How to Make Cashew Cheese

Ingredients:

2 cups cashews, soaked overnight and then rinsed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup cold water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp hulled tahini
4 tbsp nutritional yeast (nooch)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp probiotic powder (I used Inner Health Dairy Free Powder – I prefer powder to capsules as there is more ingredient for my money, and less waste/packaging)

A few notes on the ingredients:

Cashews are smooth, creamy and do not have a strong flavour or colour, making them ideal for plant-based cheese. Other nuts will also work but the result will be less smooth, more fibrous and they will have the flavour and colour of the nut used. They will still taste delicious though!

The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavour to the mix, and some yellow colour. It will definitely taste less cheesy without this, but a small amount of turmeric will add some of the yellow colour. 

Paprika adds some colour and also smokiness to the mix.

Probiotic powder is what ferments the cheese and gives it a unique tangy flavour, and probiotics are great for the gut. Honestly though, it is still super tasty without the probiotics, so if you don’t have, it is still worth making. You will be able to use straightaway as there is no need to wait for fermentation to occur.

Method:

Blend the soaked, rinsed cashews briefly until they resemble crumbs (this helps ensure it is smooth). Add everything except the probiotic powder, and blend until smooth. Try to avoid overheating the mixture – it is better to stop and allow to cool before blending again if it is taking a while to become smooth rather than running the blender continuously.

Add the probiotic powder and whizz briefly to combine.

Scrape the blender contents onto cheesecloth or into a nut milk bag, twist into a ball and suspend over a bowl to allow to drain. You could place in a sieve and suspend this over a bowl, or hang. Do not let the cheese ball sit in the draining liquid.

Leave at room temperature for 24+ hours to ferment. (My house is warm, and 24 hours works for me. If yours is colder, allow 48 – 72 hours.

Open the cheesecloth / nut milk bag and scrape the cheese into sealable containers (or a dish covered with wax wrap) and store in the fridge. The cheese will continue to ferment in the fridge, but much more slowly – you will notice the flavour getting more sour over time. Keeps for 5 – 7 days in the fridge.

Soft Cashew Cheese Recipe Suggestions

Spread on toast, use as a dip, or roll into balls or a log shape (roll in nuts, herbs, spices or dukkah for extra flavour) and serve on a cheeseboard. It also works really well stirred through pasta and – hurrah – it doesn’t separate. Cook the pasta and veggies first and stir the cheese through just before serving.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Have you experimented with making vegan plant-based cheese? Any recipes you’d recommend? Have you been able to find the ingredients in bulk? Any other thoughts? Please share in the comments below!

DIY Cashew Nut Cheese Recipe: A soft, spreadable, tangy, cheesy \

9 Responses to DIY Recipe: Spreadable Soft Cashew Cheese

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really must start making my own as vegan cheese is one of my remaining plastic ridden buys. Although I can’t reliably get a lot of ingredients without packaging so it is a balancing act. I’m working on it though. I do have one question about the tahini though. Whenever I have tried making hummus for example I always find the tahini taste to be overpowering so usually just leave it out. So when I saw the 2 tbsp of tahini it did make me wonder. Maybe I’m buying the wrong tahini?

    • Hi Clare! Hmm, I think tahini can be an acquired taste but it is something you can grow to love. I remember thinking the flavour was super overpowering at the beginning, and now I can eat it by the spoon outta the jar. So start slowly in recipes (it is also really good for you, and sesame seeds are high in calcium). That said, different brands will taste very different. You want to make sure you get hulled and NOT unhulled, as the unhulled is stronger and more bitter. For this recipe I don’t think you can taste the tahini at all, the strongest flavours are garlic, fermentyness and cheesyness from the nutritional yeast. My thoughts!

  2. Hi, will have to give this a try! I used to make a cheesecake using Philadelphia cheese and wonder if this could be used as a replacement? Might be a little different!

    Thanks for sharing

    • Hullo! Cashews can definitely be used for cheesecakes, there are plenty of vegan recipes out there so I’d recommend having a look – but this recipe will not work. It’s garlicky, tangy, cheesy, smoky and all the things you DO NOT want a cheesecake to be! It can be done, but not with this!

  3. Hi Lindsay,

    I have to puzzle out some of the ingredients for your cashew dip but would love to make. Thank you so much for all your tips and advice (and even if I can’t act on all, love hearing) and sometimes I feel as if I am stumbling along, not really doing all I should. Could you suggest a dental floss (have been using Oral B but it has a coating on it) that is environmentally friendly? Also, have noticed the small brushes for between-teeth brushing always have small plastic holders…then brush breaks and you have to throw out…right now, I save all these small things in a big jar but one day, I will have to do something with contents (like q-tips for ears).
    Happy Christmas and holidays,

    Jean Kroeber in Germany

  4. Thanks for sharing this variation of cashew “cheese”. I make dairy free yogurt/sour cream using cashews and young coconut meat. Not as many ingredients…but delicious and perhaps more simple to make? Cashews should not be soaked overnight as this makes them more bitter. 20 mins to 2 hours max. Rinse and place in a Vitamix style blender. Add young coconut meat (equal measure to the volume of cashews you are using so perhaps measure this first and adjust cashews to match, but not less than 3/4 cup) and blend till smooth with as little water as possible. More for a yoghurt type result and less for a sour cream type result. Add your probiotic and blend briefly to mix, then pour into glass jars (wide mouth is best) and put in a warm place covered but not sealed for 6-8 hours. I use the bread proofing setting in my oven which is perfect! OR leave out the probiotic and add a small amount of a sweetener to this blend to make a lovely Vegan “sweet cream” over fruit or pancakes, etc. :)

    I’ll try adding some of your flavouring ingredients next time. Excited to try these!

  5. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe! I tried it yesterday and simply LOVE it! I am new to cheese alternatives and never made a spread myself, but your words inspired me to try it. And it was totally worth it. Since the tahini is really expensive in the store I also made it myself and am super happy about the result.

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