dairy-free cream cheese recipe

Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Recipe for All Your Cravings!

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Updated on April 29, 2024

Ever stare longingly at a bagel, only to remember the sharp pang of disappointment that awaits with your usual dairy spread? Or maybe that creamy cheesecake you crave comes with a side of tummy troubles? 

Fear not, cheese lovers with dietary restrictions or a desire to explore delicious alternatives! This game-changing recipe for homemade dairy-free cream cheese is about to turn your frown upside down. It is incredibly easy to whip up and delivers all the luxurious creaminess you desire, minus the dairy. 

Get ready to indulge in guilt-free satisfaction on your favourite bagels, add a tangy twist to veggie platters, or even create a show-stopping vegan cheesecake – endless possibilities! 

So, ditch the dairy, not the delight, and dive into the world of homemade, plant-based cream cheese magic!

Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Recipe

dairy-free cream cheese recipe
dairy-free cream cheese recipe

Two main approaches to making dairy-free cream cheese are cashews and soy milk.

Cashew-Based Dairy-Free Cream Cheese

It is generally quicker and easier to make but requires soaking cashews beforehand. Here’s a recipe:


  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes or overnight
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plain non-dairy yoghurt (such as soy or coconut yoghurt)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chives (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)


  1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews.
  2. Add cashews, yoghurt, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar (if using), and salt to a food processor.
  3. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Add chives and onion powder (if using) and pulse to combine.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Soy Milk-Based Dairy-Free Cream Cheese

Requires a bit more work on the stovetop but doesn’t require soaking any ingredients. Here’s a recipe:


  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons melted vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (additional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat soy milk and 1/4 cup lemon juice over medium heat in a saucepan, whisking constantly, until simmering and curdled (about 5-7 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth set over a bowl. Pour the curdled soy milk mixture into the sieve and let it drain for at least 30 minutes or until whey is released and the curds are solidified.
  4. Combine curds, melted vegan butter, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight, before serving.

Both recipes yield a delicious dairy-free cream cheese that you can enjoy on bagels and crackers or use in recipes that call for cream cheese.

Fun Twists on Your Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Base

The beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility. Once you’ve mastered the basic technique, you can unleash your inner culinary artist and explore a world of flavour possibilities! 

Here are some inspiring variations to get you started:

Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese

Fresh herbs add a vibrant touch to your dairy-free cream cheese, making it perfect for spreading on crackers or topping veggie platters. 

Here’s how to create this delightful variation:

  • Fresh is Best: Finely chop around 1 tablespoon of fresh chives, parsley, or dill (or a combination!). Fresh herbs offer the most vibrant flavour, but 1 teaspoon of dried herbs can be used in a pinch.
  • Flavor Fusion: Once you’ve blended your base cream cheese, simply fold in the chopped herbs and stir it. Taste and adjust the amount of herbs to your preference. Consider adding a minced garlic clove during the blending process for an extra kick.

Everything Bagel Bonanza

Transform your dairy-free cream cheese into a bagel’s best friend with this everything-bagel seasoning twist:

  • Spice Up Your Life: Everything bagel seasoning typically includes a blend of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion and garlic, and black salt. Add 1-2 tablespoons of your favourite Everything bagel seasoning to the blended cream cheese and stir until evenly distributed.
  • Customisation Options: Don’t have pre-made everything bagel seasoning? No problem! Get creative and experiment by adding a sprinkle of each individual spice or seed you have on hand.

These are just a starting point – the flavour combinations are endless! Feel free to explore other variations like sun-dried tomato and basil, roasted red pepper, or even a touch of cocoa powder for a decadent chocolatey twist.

Sun-Dried Tomato Sensation

Add sun-dried tomatoes to your dairy-free cream cheese for a burst of Mediterranean sunshine.

  • Hydration is Key: Sun-dried tomatoes are packed with flavour but can be quite dry. Soak them in hot water for 10 minutes before chopping to make them easier to blend.
  • Flavour Twists: Pair the sun-dried tomatoes with chopped fresh basil for a classic Caprese twist, or add a touch of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

Tips & Tricks for Mastering Your Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Creation

Even the most seasoned home cooks encounter occasional hiccups in the kitchen. Here are some common challenges you might face while making your dairy-free cream cheese, along with solutions to ensure a smooth and successful experience:

Not-So-Creamy Conundrum

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the final product might not be as creamy as you’d like. Here’s how to troubleshoot:

Blending Breakdown

Blend the ingredients for a sufficient amount of time. A high-powered blender will achieve a smoother texture faster than a food processor. 

Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides and ensure everything is evenly incorporated.

Liquid Logic

The key to a creamy consistency lies in the right balance of liquids. If your cream cheese seems too thin, it likely indicates too much milk was added. Resist the urge to add more cashews, as this can make the texture dense and grainy. 

Here’s the fix: Drain some of the excess liquid by transferring the mixture to a cheesecloth-lined strainer placed over a bowl. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, allowing the whey (liquid) to separate. 

Add the thickened cream cheese back to the blender and continue blending until the desired consistency is reached.

Substitution Quandary: Alternative Nuts & Seeds

While cashews are the classic choice, nut allergies or personal preferences might lead you to explore alternative bases. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Almond Adventures

Following the same soaking and blending process, almonds can be used as a direct substitute for cashews. However, almonds have a slightly different flavour profile, so the final product might have a more subtle nuttiness.

Seed Sensations

Sunflower seeds can be used as a completely nut-free option. Due to their tougher texture, they require a longer soaking time (around 6 hours). Additionally, sunflower seeds have a milder flavour than cashews or almonds. 

You can add a taste of nutritional yeast for a cheesy boost to compensate. Be aware that sunflower seed cream cheese might have a slightly grainy texture compared to nut-based options.


Unveiling the Versatility of Your Dairy-Free Cream Cheese

This homemade dairy-free cream cheese is so much more than just a spread for your morning bagel! Its smooth texture and creamy richness make it a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into various savoury and sweet dishes.  

Let’s explore some exciting ways to unleash the full potential of your creation:

The Ultimate Appetizer Platter Star

Transform your next gathering into a dairy-free delight with these creative uses for your cream cheese:

Veggie Platter Powerhouse

Serve your dairy-free cream cheese alongside a vibrant array of colourful vegetables, such as sliced peppers, sugar snap peas, or baby carrots. The creamy texture pairs beautifully with the fresh crunch of the vegetables, creating a delightful appetiser or healthy snack.

Dip Du Jour

Whip up a quick and flavorful dip by adding chopped fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a touch of garlic powder to your cream cheese base. This versatile dip can be enjoyed with crackers, pita bread, or even crudités for a satisfying and healthy appetiser.

Savoury Sensations: Beyond the Spread

Think outside the box and incorporate your dairy-free cream cheese into these unexpected savoury creations:

Stuffed Delight

Elevate your next pasta dish by using cream cheese as a base for a flavorful stuffing. Simply combine it with chopped cooked vegetables like spinach or mushrooms, a touch of grated Parmesan cheese (if you are not following a strict vegan diet), and your favourite seasonings. Pipe the mixture into jumbo pasta shells, top with breadcrumbs, and bake until golden brown.

Soup Savior

Add a dollop of your dairy-free cream cheese towards the end of cooking for a richer and creamier texture in your favourite soups. This works beautifully in creamy tomato soup, potato leek soup, or even a classic broccoli cheddar (using vegan cheddar shreds). Just be sure to stir it in gently to avoid curdling.

A Sweet Surprise: Dairy-Free Desserts

Don’t stop at savoury! This dairy-free cream cheese can also be a secret weapon in your vegan baking arsenal:

Frosting Fantasy

Whip up a dreamy frosting for cupcakes or cakes by combining your cream cheese with powdered sugar, a touch of vanilla extract, and your favourite non-dairy milk. Adjust the sweetness and consistency to your liking, and create stunning and delicious dairy-free desserts.

Cheesecake Magic (For the Ambitious Baker)

For the ultimate dairy-free showstopper, this cream cheese can be the base for a delectable vegan cheesecake. Use a graham cracker crust made with crushed gluten-free graham crackers and vegan butter, and follow a recipe specifically designed for vegan cheesecakes. Top with your favourite fruits, chocolate ganache, or a simple dusting of powdered sugar for a truly impressive dessert.

Storage and Freezing Tips

Once you’ve mastered the art of crafting your own dairy-free cream cheese, you’ll naturally want to maximise its lifespan. 

Here’s a guide to storing your creation for optimal freshness and flavour:

Store in an Airtight Container in the Refrigerator

Always make sure to transfer my dairy-free cream cheese into an airtight container before storing it in the refrigerator. This helps to keep it fresh and prevents any air from getting in, which could cause it to spoil more quickly.

Sealing the container tightly or wrapping the cream cheese tightly with plastic wrap for optimal storage is important. By doing this, you can enjoy my creamy spread for up to 10 days or until the “best by” date.

So remember, keep your dairy-free cream cheese airtight in the fridge for maximum freshness!

Can Be Frozen for Longer Storage

While not ideal, you can freeze your dairy-free cream cheese for longer storage. However, be aware that the texture might be slightly altered upon thawing. For freezing, portion the cream cheese into smaller, freezer-safe containers and store for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.


Making your own dairy-free cream cheese is easy and delicious. You can create a smooth and creamy spread perfect for bagels, dips, and even stuffed vegetables with just a few simple ingredients. Whether you’re vegan or simply looking to cut back on dairy, this homemade cream cheese recipe is a tasty alternative that you’ll love.

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