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Eat Well Sep. 18. 2013

Classic Cashew Cheese

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

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN


A dairy-free alternative to cheese, made with raw cashews and nutritional yeast.

I’ve referred to cashew cheese in several of my posts, unknowingly without posting a recipe of my simple and basic version of Classic Cashew Cheese! Today I wanted to share this quick and easy recipe for you all to “save” in your Recipe Box (the drop down under the Recipe tab) for later. 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.


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. Since it contains B vitamins (which most brands fortify and add this in), is 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.

Nutritional yeast breakdown // 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. 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
  • Much more…

How to Use Classic Cashew Cheese 

  • Dollop // 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 // spread onto sandwiches, cracker, wraps, gluten-free toast, etc.

Warning: 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.


Have you ever made cashew cheese before? What would you use this on? Share below, I like hearing what you have to say!

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.


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Did you try it out?

Share Your Thoughts & Images

  • Thanks for this easy recipe! I can finally have Mac n Cheese again since I can’t have cheese anymore 🙁

  • Andrea

    Thank you! How long do you soak your cashews for?

  • Sarah Hornsby

    McKel, that is what I am curious about. How would you recommend incorporating this? Sounds so yummy and I plan on trying it.

    Want to say thank you for your website and instragram. You are one of my absolute favorites and that is saying a lot because there are so many talented ladies in this field. I feel like we are friends!

    • Hi Sarah,
      Within the post I state “how to use” with used for this recipe. Thank you very much for your kind words and support! Hope you come back soon 🙂

  • Jenny

    What would happen if I tried to do this with a magic bullet or ninja blender?

    • Hi Jenny, it’s noted in the recipe you can use another high speed blender. This should work just fine, although it may not get as creamy as when using a Vitamix or Blendtec. 🙂

  • Yummmmmmmmm!

  • I recently stumbled upon your site. I really love it. I have been cooking this way for some time now. I have used cauliflower rice plain, now I have new variations. Will try the cashew cheese. My almond cheese is also nice. However I use agar agar for thickening. Have a great ” stripped NUTRITIONAL Day.

    • Wonderful! I’m glad you like the recipe. Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope you come back soon!

  • tala

    How important is it that the cashew are raw? I have about a kg of roasted cashew at home, I could’t use them for this recipe could I ?

  • I keep my beloved raw cashews in a very similar jar! I would marry cashews if I could. No, not really. But maybe. There doesn’t seem to be anything cashews can’t do and a big ol’ bowl of cashew cheese is my jam!

  • Jen

    I just used this as a filling for a vegan lasagna with lots of veggies. YUM! So good! It was my first attempt at cashew cheese. Seems like a winner to me!

    • Hi Jen! That’s a great idea, I’m glad you enjoyed it and gave it a try. Come back to visit soon 🙂

  • Adriana

    Hi McKel, is there any substitute for the nutritional yeast? I am on a candida diet and have been told I cannot eat it. Thanks!

    • Hi Adriana,
      Nutritional yeast is not an active yeast- it’s optional just for flavor (see the blog post for the directions)

  • Hi there! I can’t wait to try this recipe. How long will this last in the refrigerator?

  • This looks so delicious and I am excited to make it this coming week!

  • Teresa

    Where can I find nutritional yeast??

  • That looks super yummy! Not heard of cashew cheese before I must say, but I really do see the appeal!

  • Gina

    I’ve made a few different, basic cashew cheeses but this one is perfect; thanks for sharing the recipe.

    I’ve used this batch in place of dairy ricotta in my tofu and spinach vegan lasagne recipe. The result is gorgeous, with the addition of this cashew cheese.

    • Thank you Gina! I’m so glad you find this recipe delicious like I do, best to you- m.h.

  • Inês

    Dear McKel,
    is it possible to substitute the nutritional yeast used in this recipe for other product (could be a dairy product)? I can’t find nutritional yeast here… and the beer yeast I used almost “kill” me 😉 (a lot of stomach pains…). Thank you very much for your attention. All the best!

    • You can use any cheese you’d like instead of nutritional yeast, the concept is to make it vegan by getting the flavor of nutritional yeast, but you could add in a dairy cheese if you’d like- such as grated parm.

  • Rebecca

    I made this over the weekend and found it interesting but TOO sour. I would suggest cutting back either the lemon juice or the vinegar by half at least – you could always add more later.

    • Hi Rebecca,
      You’re only using vinegar if you don’t use the wine! Not all at once 😉

  • Pam G

    I’ve made this several times now. I added smoked paprika to the last batch – delicious!

  • Greg

    This sounds great. Thank you. Have you every tried to heat it like a fondue?

    • Hi Greg,
      I haven’t tried to heat it other than by adding it to something that’s already hot, for example quinoa, pasta, etc. and it still tastes amazing!

  • Alison

    How do you think cashew cheese will do as the stuffing in dates, then baked? I figure if blue cheese is a thing people use to stuff dates, anything else should taste good, too…

    • You can stuff anything with these cheeses! Baking may be tricky as it’ll thin out in texture, I would try one at a time to see if you like the end texture, but it’s best used at room or chilled.

  • Hi McKel. Thank you for this awesome recipe. Could we share this recipe (in our own words) on our website and link back to your blog? Furthermore would it be possible to use other nuts for this type of vegan cheese? Cashew nuts can be a bit pricey in South Africa, depending on the season.

    • Hi Indian Delights,
      Thank you for asking, I don’t allow other blogs to repost my recipe, but you may share the direct link back to the original blog post to share. Yes, you can use other nuts and seeds to get a similar texture 🙂 Thank you!

      • Indian Delights

        Thank you for responding. Noted. We will just link to your recipe.

  • Jessica

    I have a jar of raw cashew butter and no use for it as it seems too sweet to sub for peanut/almond butter. I’m thinking it may work for cheese sauce/spread instead of soaking and blending cashews. Do you have suggestions for how I could incorporate that into this recipe?

    • Great question Jessica, you can use cashew butter in that form just as you would an almond butter/PB- try it on toast, with fruit, veggies, etc.! I wouldn’t incorporate it into this recipe, it’s best to make this one as is 🙂

  • christine

    When I add this recipe into the My fitness pal recipe calorie counter it comes up with different protein, calories, ect. I’m looking for ways to increase my protein intake and the counter states it’s 1g of protein.

    • If you’re looking to add protein to this recipe you can add more nutritional yeast (this is primarily where the protein comes in) or add hemp seeds.

  • Aariggins

    Hi, very easy recipe. Tried it for the first time yesterday! I have a question – is there any way to make it taste more “cheesy”? In my opinion it’s more reminiscent of Dijon mustard flavored hummus. Would love to hear some suggestions of possible additions to augment the flavor. Thanks!

    • Did you add the nutritional yeast? That’s the most vital part of the recipe! It gives it that cheesey flavor (or simply use less dijon to your taste)- hope that helps for making round 2 😉

    • Amber

      Add extra nutritional yeast or just decrease the mustard. I also sometimes add extra garlic powder, salt and/or paprika to make it more cheesy

  • Marcie

    Wow! Absolutely delicious. You nailed it! Will be checking out your other recipes. Thank you.

  • Denise

    I just finished making cashew cheese only I made a mistake and added the apple cider vinegar as well. It tasted like Swiss cheese. I love it and will continue to make in the future. My so called bacon loving friend even asked for recipe.

  • Stephklok

    I added a dash of Worcestershire sauce and some almond milk and it made a fantastic blue cheese dressing!

  • Molly

    this is great! Thanks for posting! I just had it on a black bean burger and it was amazing! Can’t wait to try it on other things!

  • Fliss

    This is fantastic, so addictive. I left out the mustard, wine/vinegar, salt and pepper and added a splash of olive oil. It was amazing.

  • Emma

    Hi there! This sounds like a fantastic recipe. I was just wondering if this would work put on a pizza and then put in the oven? Would that work or can’t it be put in the oven? Thanks in advance!

    • IF you did that I would recommend putting it on the pizza for the last 5 minutes or so in baking, just to warm it up!

  • Cathy

    Hi, All new to the world sans milk-based cheese. Can this cashew cheese recipe be used in place of a melted cheese topping i.e. mozzarella or a sprinkling of Parmesan? Looking at an acorn squash recipe that calls for grated cheese…

    • Great question, it can be used in place of cheese, but it’ll be a different texture kind of like a spread! It’ll be delicious on warm acorn squash!

    • Amber

      You can also sprinkle nutritional yeast on instead of parmesan for a cheesy flavor even without the other stuff. I’ve also seen recipes for vegan parmesan that I think used ground up walnuts with nutritional yeast and a couple other ingredients.haven’t made it in years, though. I usually just stir nutritional yeast in when I want it

  • Sandra

    Simple to make and amazing!! Thank you.

  • Wendy

    I used to make something very similar years ago….I added some Emmes gelatin,(vegetable), and it would be firm enough to cut like cheese…..it wasn’t quite as firm as REAL cheese, but worked very well in a sandwich…..can’t remember how much Emmes gelatin I used…it was a long time ago.????

    • McKel Hill

      That sounds so interesting! The world of nut cheeses and vegan cheeses are booming and actually are starting to include bacteria and natural fermentation- really cool stuff. 😉

  • Kerry

    Thank you for this amazing recipe, love it and so did my family. Have done it now a few times with family get togethers, we all eat dairy free so this was such a treat. Thank you for sharing. ????

    • McKel Hill

      Glad you and your family are enjoying this one Kerry!

  • Caroline

    I love cashew cheese! But, it looks like this recipe makes a lot for me to eat in a week! I could half it or do you think I could put half in the freezer?

    • McKel Hill

      You can simply make half- you can’t freeze this recipe ><

  • Penny

    Sounds delish. Is this suitable for freezing?

    • McKel Hill

      I wouldn’t recommend freezing it! Best when raw and made fresh for up to 1 week in the fridge 😉 Enjoy Penny!

  • Rachel Rose

    Hi there! I’m excited to try this recipe to make veggie [cashew] cheese-stuffed portobello mushrooms! But I have a question: do you have to dehydrate the soaked cashews before making this cheese?

    • Rachel Rose

      Forgot to add: You mention in an earlier post to soak the nuts for 20 mins to an hour. can they be soaked overnight?

      • McKel Hill

        Yes you can soak them overnight if you’d like!

    • McKel Hill

      No, you don’t need to dehydrate the cashews before making them into the cheese! It actually helps that they’re soft, they blend much easier 🙂

  • killoran

    I love this and make it all the time now. On toast it sorta tastes like grilled cheese. Dip crackers and/or pretzels in it. Serve it on macaroni. Add it to sandwiches. Great on Grillers (vegan hamburgers). Thank you for the recipe. I use regular mustard, and bump it up, but I’ve made it w/o mustard too. I use way more nutritional yeast, and red wine if that’s all I have. I’ve added instant mashed potato flakes to it as well, to thicken it a bit, but like that it’s not hard.

    • McKel Hill

      So glad you enjoy it that many ways Killoran! It’s delicious one 😉

  • Lynn

    Hi, could you be more specific on the nutritional value? there are conflicting stats on the interwebs and I really have to watch everything I eat. I do not understand Fat: 4.

    Thank you for your post and time.

    • McKel Hill

      Hi Lynn, you can visit myfitnesspal.com and input the blog post URL and it’ll find it and calculate it for you! Hope that helps you and tracking 🙂

  • Dianna Roberts

    Just whipped this up and really liked it. Added another clove of garlic and an Anaheim pepper. Think it could use a little salt, maybe, but will definitely add this to my standard repertoire.

    • McKel Hill

      Great, always adjust seasonings to taste 😉

  • Shilo Hazard

    Just finished making this. Don’t think I’ll use the mustard next time or very little. I can really taste the mustard in there. May add a little more salt too. Looking forward to trying it again once it’s been chilled.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I personally LOVE mustard so I’ll note that in the recipe. I hope you enjoy once it’s chilled!

  • Rachel P

    sounds like a great recipe! i am going to use this for a casserole i’m bringing to thanksgiving. my aunt makes a casserole with broccoli, cream cheese and cream of mushroom soup mixed together and then cheddar on top. it is a childhood favorite but having been vegan for 2 years now it definitely disturbs me to even think about eating it. so i’m going to make a layered vegan casserole inspired by the original, without subbing for processed oil filled vegan alternatives. i’m thinking: thawed frozen broccoli florets (gotta save time!), cashew cream cheese, and a simple topping made of whole wheat panko mixed with herbs and a little nooch. wish me luck! ????

  • Shaun Day

    I used a variation of this recipe in to vegan broccoli risotto as a substitute for Parmesan that would normally be add at the end of cooking, was delicious!

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  • Amber

    I like to make cashew cheese with some added seasonings for nachos. Tonight it’s going as a sauce on pizza with cauliflower pizza crust

    • Love the flexibility of adding spices to the cashew cheese! So glad you’re enjoying it Amber 🙂

  • Riley Elizabeth Schwarcz

    This is delicious! So glad I used this recipe

    • McKel Hill

      Thanks for the kind words, Riley! I’m so glad you enjoyed!

  • Marlene

    I just made this cashew cheese. It tasted a bit too strong for me at first, so I added an extra tablespoon each of cashews and nutritional yeast then 3 tablespoons of water to make it a bit creamier and presto – perfect sauce! My husband can’t wait to try it on his baked potato tonight! Thanks for a great recipe!

    • So happy you find your golden zone with making this recipe! We love adding chopped chives too! Enjoy Marlene 🙂

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