You guys. I made a cheese ball.
Yes, another cheese ball. But this one is spicy, so it’s totally my jam.
And guess what? Now you have something delicious to serve your dairy sensitive / vegan guests as they arrive at your party! Isn’t that grand?
This cheese is simple to make, requiring just 10 ingredients and surprisingly simple methods. If you can soak and blend cashews with spices and then wrap it in a towel, you can make this cheese. I believe in you – you got this.
The base is soaked cashews and vegan cream cheese for extra creamy texture and a little tang. The cheesiness comes from nutritional yeast, and the spice comes from garlic, smoked paprika, pimento peppers, and cayenne pepper.
This combination of ingredients creates a seriously dreamy cheese ball that’s spicy – but not too spicy – and insanely flavorful.
Once the cheese has had some time to rest in the fridge, it becomes semi-firm and moldable, but remains creamy – that’s what you want.
This is an optional step, but I chose to coat mine in a blend of the spices for extra kick: paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne, salt, and chili pepper. Plus, look at that color! I couldn’t resist.
I hope you all love this recipe! It’s:
& So delicious
This would make the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving, or anytime of year! It holds its shape for 2 hours outside of the fridge and keeps up to 5 days making this a great recipe to make ahead of time and set out just as your guests arrive. You so fancy.
Serve with tortilla chips or crackers for a dreamy combination. In my world, cheese + carbs = winning (even when it’s not “real” cheese.)
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram.
This is recipe #4 in my Thanksgiving Week Extravaganza – a series where I post a new recipe every day leading up to my Thanksgiving round-up on November 23. That way you’ll be completely covered for the big day. More to come, friends!
Spicy Vegan Pimento Cheese Ball
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 cloves yield ~1 Tbsp)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (plus more to taste)
- 1 medium lemon, zested + juiced (yields ~3 Tbsp or 45 ml juice as original recipe is written)
- 3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (to taste)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz. vegan cream cheese* (I like Trader Joe's or Toffuti)
- 1 4-oz. jar pimento peppers (drained)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
FOR COATING optional
- 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts or pecans
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 healthy pinch sea salt
Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. If you can't get to them right away, drain, place back in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. They will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days. Although not ideal for this recipe, you can also quick soak the cashews by covering with boiling hot water and soaking for 1 hour, then draining and proceeding with recipe as instructed.
Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to your food processor (or a blender - though it's a little tougher to blend as there's not that much liquid added).
Add minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil. Blend until very creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Then add vegan cream cheese, pimento peppers, smoked paprika and cayenne (optional). Blend once more until creamy and smooth.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for tartness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, garlic for zing, salt for saltiness, paprika for smokiness, or cayenne for heat. I added a bit more nutritional yeast, salt, cayenne and paprika. You want this to be super flavorful, so don't be shy!
Place a fine mesh strainer (or colander) over a medium mixing bowl, and lay down two layers of cheesecloth (or a clean, fine, absorbent towel).
Use a spatula to scoop all of the cheese over the cheesecloth, then gather the corners and twist the top gently to form the cheese into a "disc." Secure with a rubber band.
Place in refrigerator to set for at least 6 hours, preferably 12-24, or until semi-firm to the touch. There likely won't be any liquid in the bowl, but the cheesecloth absorbs excess moisture and the cheese hardens in the refrigerator.
To serve, unwrap from cheesecloth and gently invert onto a serving platter. Reform with hands or cheesecloth as needed.
To make coating (optional), mix together nuts and spices and use hands to gently roll the ball around until coated. It is fragile, so handle gently.
Enjoy immediately with crackers, vegetables or tortilla chips. I prefer this cheese with crackers or chips because it pairs better with carbs than vegetables in my opinion!
Cheese will hold its form for 1-2 hours out of the refrigerator, but best when chilled. Leftovers keep well covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
*If you can't find vegan cream cheese, simply omit it. It adds extra creaminess and a slight tang to the cheese, which I loved. But this isn't a critical ingredient.
*Prep time reflects soaking cashews for 6 hours, making the cheese for 30 minutes, and chilling for another 6 hours.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
Nutrition Per Serving (1 of 20 two-Tbsp servings)
- Calories: 106
- Fat: 9g
- Saturated fat: 2.5g
- Sodium: 66mg
- Carbohydrates: 5.1g
- Fiber: 0.7g
- Sugar: 2.6g
- Protein: 2.6g