Eat Well Sep. 18. 2013

Classic Cashew Cheese

Sep. 18. 2013
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of NS and Creator of The Method

Classic Cashew Cheese is a recipe for a dairy-free alternative to cheese made with raw cashews and nutritional yeast for a tasty treat.

Cashew cheese is perfect for those of you wanting an alternative to dairy or for the adventurous foodies who want to give a new recipe a try. I promise this won’t disappoint — it’s full of flavor and not to mention nutrition from the main ingredients raw cashews and nutritional yeast. This is also the perfect recipe to make on your batch cooking day since it stays well throughout the week. 

What is Cashew Cheese?

Cashew cheese is a dairy-free and vegan alternative to cheese. It’s made by first soaking cashews in filtered water then blending the cashews to a spreadable consistency. Cashew cheese is very versatile and easy to adapt to different tastes with seasoning.

This recipe for Classic Cashew Cheese contains a large range of B vitamins including B12 (notably from the nutritional yeast), magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

This recipe is not only vitamin- and mineral-rich compared to standard dairy, but it’s also much easier for many of us to digest, tastes great, and is versatile to use! There’s a key player in why this recipe is so delicious, and that’s nutritional yeast.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast used as a food, it’s especially high in B vitamins and protein and also contains fiber, selenium, and potassium. Before entering the plant-based community, I never heard of nutritional yeast. Fast forward to the present moment and I adore nutritional yeast for boosting the nutrition content in simple foods and also for achieving a cheesy flavor sans dairy.

Nutritional yeast has been a pantry staple of mine for years and there’s hardly a day I go without using a bit of it. Because it contains B vitamins (which most brands fortify in foods), it’s a complete protein and has a cheesy flavor, it’s popular in plant-based lifestyles; but who says it stops with plant-based diets? Everyone can enjoy and incorporate nutritional yeast into their diet.

In just 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, there are roughly 45 calories, 8g of protein, 5g of carbohydrate (4 being from fiber), and 0g of fat! This, of course, will depend on the brand, but in general, the nutrition information will be hovering around this. That makes it awesome in my book!

Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast

  • Salad: Sprinkle dry flakes on salads for a cheesy flavor. It also mixes really well with liquid creating a creamy and thick dressing
  • Sauce: Add it to cheese sauces or create your own
  • Soups: Add into soups or stews for a thickening effect and also flavor
  • Scrambled eggs: Sprinkle into scrambled eggs for added flavor and nutrition
  • Popcorn: Sprinkle on popcorn for a cheesy flavor and boost of protein


Thanks to the nutritional yeast, this cashew cheese offers high amounts of B vitamins, as well as a plant-based protein. This mix of vitamins will keep your DNA healthy and give you energy.

In addition to containing 200%, DV of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12 nutritional yeast also contains about 10 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons serving depending on the brand.

Magnesium is one of the many benefits of nuts, including cashews. It’s a vital mineral in the body as it plays a role in 300 cellular functions including muscle function, protein synthesis, blood sugar control, and blood pressure regulation.

It’s also been shown to help decrease PMS, and headaches, and it can also help with digestion and reducing constipation. 

You know you need calcium to maintain strong bones, but you also need it for a healthy heart, muscles, and nerves. Nuts will provide a daily dose of calcium—specifically 10 milligrams in one serving.

How to Use Classic Cashew Cheese 

  • Dollop: Scoop onto baked potatoes, on a salad, fresh pasta, scrambled eggs, etc.
  • Dip: Use as a dip for vegetables, fruits, gluten-free crackers, etc.
  • Dressing: 1 Tbs. classic cashew cheese + 2 Tbs. of apple cider vinegar =  creamy salad dressing
  • Sauce: 1/4 cup classic cashew cheese + 3 Tbs. dijon mustard + 1/2 cup of almond milk = creamy cheesy sauce
  • Spread: Smear onto sandwiches, cracker, wraps, gluten-free toast, etc.

This recipe is so delicious you may find yourself wanting to consume the whole bowl… use moderation and portion control with this recipe because it is calorie dense from using cashews—but also nutrient dense! Simply use 1-2 Tbs. as a serving or work it into your daily calories, etc. I’m all for flexibility.

Want more cashew cheese? Try these other recipes.

Foundational Five

Learn how you can nourish your body at each meal by creating a Foundational Five Nourish Meal. This is McKel’s simple framework she’s used with thousands of clients in her decade as a Dietitian and now you can use it too!

The Foundational Five supports you in nourishing your physical body so you can learn what to eat, which is the first step in mindful eating. The remainder is knowing how to eat and to experience your food positively.

Eating in this way supports your physical body on a cellular level ensuring you’re consuming the nutrients you need to have a sharp focus, calm digestion, lasting energy, sound sleep, and vibrant long-term health.

Here are the following Foundational Five Elements in this recipe:

1 • Non-starchy Carbohydrate

  • Add raw cucumbers, peppers or carrots for dipping

2 • Starchy Carbohydrate

  • Add whole wheat, whole grain, sprouted grain or gluten-free crackers

3 • Healthy Fat

  • Cashews

4 • Protein

  • Cashews
  • Nutritional yeast

5 • Flavor Factor

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic
  • White wine
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper

The Recipe

Serves 12



1 cup raw cashews (soaked)

1/4 cup filtered water

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons white wine (wine you’d drink) or use 1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar

1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, adjust to taste

sea salt and pepper to taste


Step 1

Simply add all ingredients into your Vitamix or high-speed blender and blend until thick and creamy.

Step 2

It will be the consistency of thawed or stirred cream cheese.

Step 3

This will further harden after it’s been chilled.

Step 4

Store in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.

Let’s Chat!

Have you ever made cashew cheese before? What would you use this on? Share below, I like hearing what you have to say! Or share on social media with #nutritionstripped.

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