Cashew Ricotta Cheese (Soy-Free, Fast, Easy!)

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Wooden spoon in a bowl of cashew ricotta

Lately we’ve been on a pizza and pasta kick, and it’s no secret that we also have a thing for dairy-free cheese. It’s also no secret that Italian food and cheese go hand in hand.

But what’s pasta and pizza without cheese? So we remedied this by experimenting with a SUPER quick vegan ricotta cheese made with 5 simple ingredients: quick-soaked cashews, fresh lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and nutritional yeast.

The result is a light, fluffy ricotta that comes together fast in a food processor or blender. Let us show you how it’s done.

Cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon slices, garlic powder, salt, and water

Origins of Ricotta

Ricotta is a soft, mild “cheese” popular in Italian cuisine and used in dishes such as ravioli, lasagna, tortellini, and crepes. It’s believed to have roots dating back to ancient history (source).

But did you know that ricotta is not technically cheese (source)?! We were surprised too! It’s actually made from whey, which is a by-product of cheese making.

Either way, we love its taste and versatility, but wanted to make a dairy-free version for those who can’t or choose not to consume dairy products!

How to Make Vegan Ricotta

There are many ways to make vegan ricotta. We’ve previously made versions using almonds, macadamia nuts, and even tofu! But this cashew version is our current favorite.

Cashews are used as the base to mock the richness of dairy ricotta, while lemon adds tang and nutritional yeast adds a “cheesy” element. Then garlic powder and salt add even more flavor.

Cashews and nutritional yeast in a food processor

It all gets blended up in a food processor (or blender) with water until it turns into a thick yet spreadable paste. And voila! You have homemade vegan ricotta made with real food ingredients!

We typically keep it in the fridge where it will last up to 1 week, but it can also be frozen for longer-term storage.

Though it may be tempting to try making a smaller batch instead of freezing extra ricotta, we’ve found it doesn’t work well because there isn’t enough volume. But if you have a small food processor, it may be more possible.

Food processor of vegan cashew ricotta cheese

We hope you LOVE this vegan ricotta! It’s:

Fluffy
Slightly sweet
Garlicky
Salty
Lemony
Versatile
Customizable
& Delicious!

It’s delicious on pizzapastalasagnasalads, and more! Or enjoy as a dip with crackers and sliced veggies. The possibilities are endless!

More Vegan Cheese Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Top down shot of a bowl of vegan ricotta cheese with lemon slices and fresh parsley

Cashew Ricotta Cheese (Soy-Free, Fast, Easy!)

Quick, fluffy vegan ricotta cheese made with 5 simple ingredients including cashews, lemon, and garlic. Comes together in a food processor or blender and is perfect for pasta, pizza, salads, and more!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Bowl of fluffy vegan ricotta cheese topped with fresh parsley
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 (~2-Tbsp servings)
Course Appetizer, Dip, Side Dish
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Italian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 5-7 Days

Ingredients

RICOTTA

  • 1 ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 4-6 Tbsp water

FOR TOPPING optional

  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or cilantro

Instructions

  • Soak cashews in very hot water for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or overnight (or 6 hours) in cool water. Then drain, rinse, and set aside.
  • Add soaked, drained cashews to a food processor (or a high-speed blender) along with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, sea salt, and lesser amount of water (4 Tbsp or 60 ml as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Mix/blend, scraping down sides as needed. Then add more water 1 Tbsp (15 ml) at a time until a thick paste forms. I find I get the best texture results with a food processor, but in a pinch, a blender can work too. It just generally requires more scraping and more liquid.
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor, salt to taste, lemon juice for acidity, or garlic powder for garlic flavor. Blend again to combine.
  • At this point, the "cheese" is ready to enjoy! The flavors continue to develop and thicken when chilled. Delicious on things like pizza, pasta, lasagna, salads, and more.
  • Best when fresh. Store leftover nut "cheese" in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days or in the freezer up to 1 month (let thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving).

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of salt and without optional ingredients.
*Adapted from our Macadamia Nut Cheese.

Nutrition (1 of 8 servings)

Serving: 1 two-tablespoon serving Calories: 117 Carbohydrates: 6.8 g Protein: 4.3 g Fat: 9 g Saturated Fat: 1.6 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.59 g Monounsaturated Fat: 4.83 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 76 mg Potassium: 158 mg Fiber: 0.9 g Sugar: 1.3 g Vitamin A: 0.11 IU Vitamin C: 0.84 mg Calcium: 8.66 mg Iron: 1.41 mg

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  1. Maria says

    Excellent recipe and used in lasagna, pizza topping and even as a cheesy thickener in soups. Thanks for easy, flexible and tasty!

  2. Gabrielle Schube says

    Very yummy! Put on pizza as the “cheese” and it was perfect. Had to add more water than eecipe calles for cuz it was so thick. I also halved it and made it in a measuring cup with an immersion blender.
    Have also used it on the vegan lasagna on your site and that was amazing too!

  3. Ana says

    I’ve recently turned plant-based and your recipes have been my go to. I did this ricotta today and because i wanted to be a little more on the cautious side, in case I didnt like it, I halved it. I also used a blender instead of a food processor. Because of these 2 factors, the result wasnt as creamy but still tasted really good and cheesy. Thank you!

  4. Lindsay says

    This looks amazing! Ideas on what to do with the ricotta? How have you used it? I would love to make it!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lindsay, It’s delicious on pizza, pasta, lasagna, salads, and more! Or enjoy as a dip with crackers and sliced veggies.

  5. Lucy says

    This as my first vegan ‘cheese’ recipe I made. I followed the recipe but halved it. I don’t think it tastes much like cheese however I did enjoy eating it. I used it as a dressing on a veggie bowl. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing, Lucy! Next time would you mind adding a rating to your review? It’s super helpful to us and other readers! xo

  6. Priya says

    Great recipe! I added some tofu, fresh Basil, and fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. The mixture went into stuffed shells pasta and topped with marinara sauce. It was delicious and my kids didn’t notice that there was no real cheese. Made extra for the fridge to use next week!