Vegan ricotta cheese is very easy to make and only requires a handful of simple ingredients.
When going dairy-free, one of the hardest things for people to give up is cheese. There are a quite a few store-bought vegan cheeses, but they often lack flavor and have a weird texture.
I knew there had to be a way to enjoy cheese again, even if it wasn’t the real thing.
Who Will Enjoy This Vegan Ricotta Cheese?
There are so many people that are either lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy (me!), or are dairy-free for other health reasons. This is the perfect solution for those who want to have something as good as the real thing without feeling like you have to miss out.
No one should ever feel left out at the dinner table. Ever. Especially once you learn how to make this mouthwatering, ‘cheesy’ goodness.
With only a handful of simple ingredients, you can create this delicious vegan ricotta cheese with little effort and for much less money (and much more flavor) than anything you’ll find at the store.
Vegan Ricotta Cheese Ingredients
This recipe uses only five ingredients (not including the salt): raw cashews, nutritional yeast, fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, filtered water, and sea salt.
What Tools Do You Need to Make This?
No matter which tool you use, you’ll have to pulse/blend the mixture stopping to scrape down the sides and then keep pulsing/blending until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
How to Make Other Vegan Ricotta Variations
When we think about traditional ricotta, we think of the words creamy, salty, savory, tangy, and slightly sweet. So, when making a vegan ricotta cheese alternative, you want to use ingredients that are going to emulate those similar flavors and textures
If you’re new to cooking more creatively, The Five Tastes of Cooking will be a helpful resource for you in better understanding these flavors.
For the vegan ricotta cheese base
Raw (blanched) almonds and raw macadamia nuts also work well because of their slightly sweet flavor profile. Both macadamia nuts and blanched almonds are great sources of healthy fats that will lend that creaminess that you’d get from traditional ricotta.
Can’t have nuts? You can also use raw sunflower seeds with similar results. If using sunflower seeds, I recommend using a blender over a food processor.
Make sure to not use roasted nuts or seeds since this will impart a very different flavor.
Making vegan ricotta cheese tangy
In my recipe below, I use a combination of apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. These are interchangeable ingredients and equally acidic. If you only have one, but not the other play around with the amount until you get the right amount of tanginess.
Remember that when using fresh lemon juice, you want it to have a slight tanginess, but using too much lemon can cause the end result to taste too lemony (which won’t taste like cheese).
White wine vinegar and champagne vinegar also work and can be used interchangeably, but aren’t as acidic as apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) on their own. If using either of these types of vinegar, you’ll want to add some fresh lemon juice as well.
Stay away from white vinegar as it’s very acidic and too harsh in flavor.
Getting the right texture
Since traditional ricotta cheese isn’t completely smooth, to achieve a similar texture with vegan ricotta cheese, the key is to get the correct ratio of liquids to solids.
Too much liquid will result in a cream sauce, which is also tasty, but not what the intention is here.
The best type of salt to use
Since traditional ricotta cheese naturally has a salty flavor, you want to use a type of salt that’s not so overpowering that it’s going to make it too salty.
If unsure about what types of salt you can use, peep this Quick Guide to Cooking with Salt.
Getting the umami/savoriness flavor
Traditional ricotta cheese itself is umami. It leaves us wanting more with each bite. To achieve this same umami flavor, nutritional yeast is added.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that has a very umami/savory flavor emulating that similar addictive flavor in traditional ricotta cheese.
If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you can leave it out, but the flavor will be slightly different.
Cashew Vegan Ricotta Cheese
- Soak the raw cashews in hot water for 20 minutes (or cold water for 2 hours) then drain and rinse with cold water.
- In a high powered blender, blend and/or pulse until you've reached your desired consistency. (You'll need to scrape the sides down a few times and use the tamper to get the right texture.)
- Taste and add more salt or vinegar/lemon juice as needed.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- The soaking helps to soften up the texture for blending.
- You made need to add more water to get the right consistency. Add a tablespoon more at a time until your preferred texture is achieved.