If you’re looking for a dairy-free, vegan alternative to satisfy that cheesy craving, this cashew vegan cheese recipe is for you! I often make cashew cheese as a dip or sauce to have with meals, but this recipe is sliceable and absolutely perfect for your next vegan cheeseboard.
The best part? It can be made in under half an hour (aside from setting time) and it’s so so easy to make.
What Does Cashew Cheese Taste Like?
Cashew vegan cheese boasts a creamy texture and a rich, savory flavor that is very similar to conventional dairy cheese. This vegan cheese offers a luxurious, nutty undertone due to the natural fats in cashews, while the inclusion of nutritional yeast contributes an umami flavor akin to traditional cheese. The addition of ingredients like lemon juice or the apple cider vinegar imparts a tangy quality that harmonizes the richness.
How Healthy is Cashew Cheese?
Cashew vegan cheese can be a relatively healthy alternative to ‘traditional’ dairy cheese, especially for individuals who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or looking to reduce their dairy consumption. However, its overall healthiness does depend on various factors, including the specific ingredients used, portion sizes, and how it fits into your overall diet. Here are some considerations:
Benefits of Cashew Cheese:
- Healthy Fats: Cashews provide healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health and overall well-being.
- Protein and Nutrients: Cashews are a source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamins (such as B vitamins), and minerals (like magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc).
- Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast, a common ingredient in cashew cheese, offers added B vitamins and a savory, cheese-like flavor.
- Lactose-Free: Cashew cheese is suitable for those who are lactose intolerant, as it doesn’t contain any dairy.
- Vegan: For individuals following a vegan diet, cashew cheese provides a way to enjoy a cheese-like experience without using animal products.
- Calorie Density: Cashew cheese can be calorie-dense due to the presence of cashews and added fats. Consuming it in moderation is important, especially if you’re watching your calorie intake.
- Fat Content: While the fats in cashews are healthy, consuming too much fat can contribute to excess calorie consumption. Portion control is essential.
- Sodium: Depending on the recipe, cashew cheese can contain added salt, contributing to sodium intake. High sodium intake can be a concern for blood pressure and overall health.
- Processed Versions: Store-bought cashew cheeses might contain additives, stabilizers, and flavor enhancers. Reading labels and choosing products with minimal, recognizable ingredients is recommended.
- Balanced Diet: Cashew cheese is a good source of certain nutrients, but it’s important to consume a varied diet to meet all your nutritional needs. Relying solely on cashew cheese for nutrition might lead to imbalances.
- Homemade vs. Store-Bought: Making cashew cheese at home allows you to control the ingredients and quality. Homemade versions might be less processed and healthier than some store-bought alternatives.
The Ingredients for This Wonderful Vegan Cheese
As always, I break down each ingredient and what it specifically adds to the final product. So, without further ado, here are the ingredients to this wonderful cashew vegan cheese…
- Soaked Cashews: Soaking the cashews softens them and makes them easier to blend. Cashews provide a creamy texture, healthy fats, protein, and various vitamins and minerals.
- Garlic: Minced garlic adds a pungent and savory flavor to the cheese. It’s a common seasoning that enhances the overall taste profile of the dish.
- Garlic Powder: Garlic powder is a concentrated form of garlic flavor. It complements the minced garlic, adding depth and intensity to the cheese’s taste.
- Dried Oregano: Dried oregano contributes a distinct herbaceous and slightly earthy flavor to the cheese. It adds a Mediterranean touch and complements the other seasonings.
- Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a key ingredient in vegan cheese recipes. It provides a cheesy flavor and is often fortified with B vitamins. It enhances the cheese’s umami and tangy taste.
- Lemons (Juice of 1.5 Lemons): Lemon juice adds acidity to balance the flavors and cuts through the richness of the cashews. It also provides a hint of freshness and brightness to the dish.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil adds a smooth and silky texture to the cheese. It also contributes healthy monounsaturated fats and a subtle fruity flavor.
- Maple Syrup: Maple syrup provides a touch of sweetness to balance out the savory and tangy elements. It can enhance the overall flavor profile and create a harmonious blend of tastes.
- Salt: Salt is a crucial seasoning that enhances flavors and balances the dish. It can also help to bring out the natural flavors of the other ingredients.
- Cornflour: Cornflour (cornstarch) is a thickening agent that helps achieve the desired consistency for the cheese. It helps bind the ingredients together and provides a creamy texture.
- Filtered Water: Water is used to blend the ingredients and adjust the consistency of the cheese. It’s necessary to achieve the desired texture and creaminess.
- Turmeric: Turmeric adds a vibrant yellow color to the cheese. It’s also known for its potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.
- Fresh Chives: Finely sliced fresh chives contribute a mild onion-like flavor and a pop of color to the cheese. They add a touch of freshness and visual appeal.
- Agar-Agar Powder (and 1 cup filtered water): Agar-agar is a plant-based gelling agent derived from seaweed. When mixed with water and heated, it helps the cheese set and solidify, giving it a more cheese-like texture.
Sliceable Garlic & Herb Cashew Cheese (Vegan and Gluten Free)
- 1 Cup Soaked Cashews soak overnight for approximately 12 hours
- 2 Cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 6 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- Juice of 1.5 Lemons
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp Salt adjust to taste)
- 1.5 tsp Cornflour
- 10 tbsp Filtered Water
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 1 Handful Fresh Chives finely sliced
- 4 tsp Agar-Agar Powder (and 1 cup filtered water)
- Start by draining your cashews and rinsing them well
- Then place them in your blender/food processor along with the minced garlic, garlic powder, dried herbs, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, maple syrup, turmeric (if using), sea salt, cornflour and 10 tbsp water
- Blend well until a very smooth paste forms
- Feel free to taste this mixture and add in any more of the ingredients to taste (e.g. you may prefer a tangier flavour, so add in more lemon juice)
- Stir in the chopped fresh chives
- In a medium sized saucepan, add in 1 cup filtered water, the agar-agar powder and the cheesy cashew mixture
- Turn on the heat and gently bring to a boil – constantly whisking
- You will feel it getting thicker and thicker; turn off the heat when it becomes a similar consistency to a thick cake batter
- Pour this mixture into greased ramekins (I grease with a teeny bit of olive oil and some kitchen towel), cover, and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours until they're set
- After 2-3 hours, carefully remove from the ramekins by turning them upside down (if they don't come out straight away try going around the edge with a soft knife – this usually works)
What Do You Eat Cashew Cheese With?
Personally, I love a vegan cheese board. But cashew cheese can be a versatile and delicious addition to various dishes and snacks. Here are some ideas for what you can eat cashew cheese with:
- Crackers: Spread cashew cheese on whole grain or gluten-free crackers for a satisfying snack or appetizer.
- Bread: Use cashew cheese as a spread on toast, bagels, or sandwiches for added flavor and creaminess.
- Veggies: Dip raw or roasted vegetables like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips, and cherry tomatoes into cashew cheese for a nutritious and flavorful snack.
- Pasta: Toss cashew cheese with cooked pasta for a creamy and dairy-free alternative to traditional cheese sauces.
- Salads: Drizzle cashew cheese over salads as a dressing or mix it into grain-based salads for added creaminess and flavor.
- Pizza: Use cashew cheese as a dairy-free cheese substitute on homemade or store-bought pizzas.
- Wraps and Burritos: Spread cashew cheese on wraps, burritos, or tacos to add creaminess and flavor to your plant-based creations.
- Stuffed Vegetables: Fill bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini boats with cashew cheese and bake them for a satisfying and nutritious appetizer or side dish.
- Dips: Serve cashew cheese as a dip alongside fresh fruits, such as apple slices or grapes, for a sweet and savory combination.
- Grain Bowls: Add a dollop of cashew cheese to grain bowls, Buddha bowls, or quinoa salads for added richness and flavor.
- Soup Topping: Swirl cashew cheese into soups, like tomato soup or creamy vegetable soups, to enhance the flavor and texture.
- Sushi Rolls: Use cashew cheese as a filling for vegan sushi rolls to add creaminess and depth of flavor.
- Baked Potatoes: Top baked potatoes with cashew cheese, along with chives or other toppings, for a comforting and hearty treat.
- Stuffed Pasta: Fill pasta shells or manicotti with cashew cheese for a dairy-free version of stuffed pasta dishes.
- Crudité Platters: Include cashew cheese on a platter with an assortment of raw vegetables, olives, and other snacks for a colorful and flavorful spread.
- Fruit: Pair cashew cheese with fruits like figs, grapes, or berries for a balanced and elegant appetizer.
Remember that the versatility of cashew vegan cheese allows you to experiment with different flavors and combinations based on your preferences.