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What Is Cashew Cheese?

By Rachael Cullins
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cashew cheese is a vegan alternative to dairy-based cheese. It is made from blended cashews and a variety of spices and flavorings. Like dairy cheese, cashew cheese is spreadable and can be sliced and eaten in the same way as regular cheese. The cheese can either be infused with yeast and allowed to rise, or it can be baked to produce a firmer cheese.

People who follow a vegan diet do not eat or use any products made from or by animals. Whereas most vegetarians consume dairy or honey, vegans do not. Milk, honey, eggs, and anything made from gelatin, such as marshmallows, are all off-limits for a vegan. Many vegans turn to non-animal products that mimic the taste and flavor of the original food.

A basic recipe for cashew cheese includes cashews, water, and sea salt. The cashews are soaked in lightly salted water overnight, for about eight hours. They are then drained and blended with a little of the soaking water in a food processor. The mixture is placed in cheesecloth and hung, allowing it to drain excess water, for a few hours.

After draining, the cashew cheese is refrigerated for several hours or overnight. After chilling, the cheese should be firm. It is then baked for up to two hours to achieve the desired consistency. Many top the cashew cheese with salt, pepper, garlic salt or a variety of herbs to enhance the cheese’s flavor. After baking, the cheese can be sliced or served as any other cheese.

Cashew cheese will have a dough-like look and feel after baking. Some vegan chefs add yeast to the cheese in lieu of baking, allowing the cashew mixture to rise like bread before serving. This produces a different texture from baked cashew cheese, and choosing either method depends on personal taste and texture preferences.

Some use cashew cheese as a sort of party spread rather than as a true cheese. It can be used top bread or crackers, like regular cheese, or it can be served as a spread for vegetables. If more flavor is desired for the cheese, it can be topped with lemon juice or olive oil, or a little white wine can be added to the cashew mixture. Various zests, such as orange or lemon zest, can be added to the mixture prior to baking as well.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Nov 18, 2013

I'm actually not vegan, but I eat cashew cheese because it's healthy. Its a low calorie food and has only one gram of fat per serving. It's also nutritious and gives me energy. Dairy sometimes gives me digestive issues, so I'd rather have something safer and healthier like cashew cheese.

Obviously, it doesn't taste exactly like cheese, but raw cashew cheese is similar in texture to cream cheese.

By turquoise — On Nov 17, 2013

@ZipLine-- Are you allergic to all nuts or just cashews? Because there are vegan cheeses made from other nuts like almonds.

If you can't have any nuts, then I'm guessing that tofu/soybean cheese is the best vegan option for you. But be careful when you buy them and read all the ingredients. Some vegan soybean cheeses also include nuts. So always check the ingredients first.

You can also find vegan cheese made from rice or coconut milk.

I wish you could have vegan cashew cheese though. I've tried almost every vegan cheese out there and cashew cheese is my favorite. It's very creamy and works great in vegan desserts.

By ZipLine — On Nov 17, 2013

What's a vegan, nut-free alternative to cashew cheese?

I would love to try cashew vegan cheese but unfortunately, I'm allergic. I recently became vegan but not being able to eat nuts is kind of a problem. What are some alternatives?

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