How to Make Vegan Cheese at Home

February 21, 2014

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped makes a cheesy, cheese-free spread that you can eat on anything from salads to potatoes to sandwiches.

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Cashew cheese is perfect for dairy-free living -- and for anyone who wants to try something new. Not only does is this creamy, cheesy spread made using gluten-free and vegan ingredients, but it comes together quickly and it's endlessly versatile. Non-dairy lovers, rejoice!

This “cheese” has been a staple of mine in the kitchen since I stopped eating dairy. What makes this recipe especially delicious is the nutritional yeast, which contributes to the cheesy flavor and also, yes, adds nutrition. 

More: Nutritional yeast is also the magical ingredient in vegan pesto.

Consider this fair warning: cashew cheese is so delicious you may find yourself wanting to consume the whole bowl. If you’re looking for creative uses for cashew cheese, here are a few ideas: 

  • Dollop it onto baked potatoes, salads, fresh pasta, or scrambled eggs.
  • Use it as a dip for vegetables, fruits, or crackers.
  • Make a quick salad dressing with a tablespoon of cashew cheese and a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. 
  • Make a cheese sauce with 1/4 cup cashew cheese, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 1/2 cup of almond milk.
  • Simply spread it onto sandwiches, cracker, wraps, and toast.

More: So you've ate your fill of cashew cheese and crackers. Now, make vegan chocolate pie for dessert.

Classic Cashew Cheese

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Soak the cashews in 1/4 cup of water for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until thick and creamy. 

Use at room temperature or chill for at least 20 minutes. Store the cashew cheese iin an airtight mason jar or container and enjoy it for up to 1 week. 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by McKell Hill

Order now

The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Suciana Widi Anggraeni
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An internationally known dietitian/nutritionist and the creator of Nutrition Stripped. McKel shares McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN is an internationally known dietitian/nutritionist and the creator of Nutrition Stripped, a plant-centric whole foods lifestyle and blog. McKel shares nourishing and delicious recipes weekly while inspiring her readers to take their health to the next level. McKel coaches privately with women all over the world, hosts Nutrition Stripped Supper Clubs and workshops. Her cookbook will be published early 2016.


Suciana W. July 4, 2014
what if im not consume white wine? can i replace with other ingredients and what? tq
McKel H. July 4, 2014
You may use apple cider vinegar.
Antoinette H. March 1, 2014
Nutritional Yeast is like Brewers yeast, but not bitter. Full of B vitamins, calcium, and "good" cholesterol. Has a nutty taste. The brand names I've come across in the past include "Engevita yeast" and "Red Star nutritional yeast"
McKel H. July 4, 2014
Check out my pantry page on my blog http://nutritionstripped.com/pantry, where I go into detail about where to find nutritional yeast and why I use it!
Kimberly R. February 26, 2014
I'm soaking the cashews right now. Do I drain them before adding everything to the food processor? Thanks! Really excited for the end result!
McKel H. July 4, 2014
McKel H. July 4, 2014
Nathalie February 26, 2014
I live in France and I don't know what nutritional yeast is. Is it like brewers yeast or something different? Do you know by any chance if I could find some over here? Thanks in advance.
Natalia A. March 6, 2014
It's different. Here in Brazil we don't have it too, one must import from US websites. That yeast make the food tastes like cheese, besides is very rich in B12.
McKel H. July 4, 2014
Check out my pantry page on my blog http://nutritionstripped.com/pantry, where I go into detail about where to find nutritional yeast and why I use it!
Maureen February 24, 2014
I would love to try this recipe, I would like to know if I could use something else other than white wine?

McKel H. July 4, 2014
You can use apple cider vinegar, such as Braggs.
Elena V. February 21, 2014
This is awesome!!!! The dr just told me I need to go dairy-free and I was already missing cheese... I'll do it as soon as I can get my hands on a bottle of nutritional yeast (which my be hard to get in Mexico)...
Alexandra V. February 21, 2014
Totally going to make a beer cheese version of this! Great article!
McKel H. July 4, 2014
Mark J. February 21, 2014
Is there anything you can switch out the cashews with? I am allergic to tree nuts.
McKel H. February 21, 2014
Hey Mark- cashews are best, but you can try macadamia nuts (if those aren't bothersome to you) or you can do sunflower seeds, the texture will be different but concept is relatively the same. Enjoy -m.h.
kate H. February 21, 2014
So what is nutritional yeast and where would one find it?
McKel H. February 21, 2014
You can find it at most health food stores! Enjoy -m.h.
Kate February 21, 2014
I can't wait to try this? Been toying with the idea of being vegan, but...cheese...I'll have to see if this can satisfy the craving :)
McKel H. February 21, 2014
Awesome! Enjoy :) -m.h.