This Vegan Ricotta Spread is thick and creamy and requires just a few ingredients. It’s easy to make and super versatile. Great as a dairy-free dip, spread, or in any of your favorite Italian recipes where traditional ricotta cheese is used.
While the cashews do need to soak for quite awhile to result in the best texture, this vegan cashew ricotta is really easy to make. Once the cashews are soaked, it only takes 5 minutes to make!
It’s the perfect dairy alternative for traditional ricotta.
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Cashews ~ Unsalted raw cashews is what you need. Let them soak in water for 2 to 3 hours, then drain and rinse. This will allow them to blend easily into a creamy texture.
If you’re short on time, you could do a quick soak by boiling them in water for 15 minutes.
For a nut-free option, try sunflower seeds or extra-firm tofu. You will need to adjust the amount of water added depending on the base you choose.
Lemon ~ A squeeze of fresh lemon juice brings a nice citrus note and brightens everything up.
Vinegar ~ A splash of apple cider vinegar provides tang. Distilled white vinegar can be used instead.
Note: I like using both lemon and vinegar. You could use all lemon juice or all vinegar, if that’s what you have.
Garlic ~ Just one clove is all you need. You can use ½ teaspoon of garlic powder if you don’t have fresh garlic.
Nutritional yeast ~ This provides a savory, somewhat cheesy, umami flavor. It balances the natural sweetness of the cashews. It’s optional, but highly recommended.
Salt ~ A pinch of salt to round out the flavors.
Extras ~ You’ll need some water to thin it out.
Feel free to add a dash of black pepper or a sprinkle of Italian seasoning (or basil or oregano) for an extra punch of flavor.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
1) Add all ingredients into a food processor fit with the “S” blade.
2) Process until creamy, but not completely smooth. Ricotta traditionally has a bit of texture.
Of course, if you prefer a super smooth cheese spread, by all means, process until your desired consistency is reached.
You can use this vegan ricotta cheese just like you would traditional dairy ricotta.
- It’s great in pasta bake, lasagna, and stuffed shells.
- Use it as a dip for crackers or crudité for appetizers or snacks.
- Spread it onto toast (try my creamy mushroom toast!) or bagels for breakfast.
- Dollop it on grain bowls, veggie bowls, or rice bowls.
- Scoop it onto pizza.
- Leave out the garlic and nutritional yeast, add a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar, and use it in desserts like cannoli or simply served with fresh berries or dolloped on French Toast.
Fridge: Store this vegan ricotta cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze it! Transfer it to a freezer safe storage container or plastic bag. It should keep well for up to 2 months.
From frozen, defrost in the fridge overnight and stir well before using.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Use unsalted raw cashews.
~ Soak the cashews in hot water so they blend up creamy.
~ If you’re short on time, do a quick soak: boil the cashews in water for 15 to 20 minutes. Note: the longer soak produces better results.
~ Use a food processor for best texture. This vegan ricotta is too thick to work in a blender.
~ Process until creamy, but not completely smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the bottom and side a few times.
~ Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
~ For a nut-free option, use sunflower seeds or extra-firm tofu (drained and patted dry). If using tofu, do not add water to the recipe.
~ For a sweet ricotta dessert spread, omit the garlic and nutritional yeast and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
Dairy ricotta is an Italian cheese made by using leftover whey from the production of other cheeses. It’s technically not a real cheese, but a dairy by product. It has a mild flavor and soft, creamy consistency.
There are many versions of vegan ricotta. The recipe featured here is made from raw cashews as a base. Almonds and tofu are the other popular choices. Usually vinegar or lemon juice, garlic and salt are added for extra flavor.
Ricotta typically has a soft, somewhat grainy texture. I’d say it falls somewhere in between a smooth cream cheese and cottage cheese curd.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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Vegan Ricotta Spread
- Soak the cashews in hot water for 2 to 3 hours (or overnight). Drain and rinse.
- Add the drained cashews and all other ingredients to a food processor.
- Process until soft and creamy, but not completely smooth.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.