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.
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.
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.
We hope you LOVE this vegan ricotta! It’s:
It’s delicious on pizza, pasta, lasagna, salads, 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!
Servings 8 (~2-Tbsp servings)
- 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
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).
*Adapted from our Macadamia Nut Cheese.
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