This easy, creamy tofu cream cheese is packed with protein, totally customizable and so easy to make in a blender or food processor. Schmear this 5-minute vegan cream cheese on a bagel, use it in a recipe, or just dip veggies / fruit in it.
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Hey Internet, it’s funny--I’ve shared a vegan bagels recipe with you AND I’ve shared a vegan cream cheese frosting recipe with you, but I haven’t actually shared the vegan cream cheese recipe itself yet.
This recipe IS in my Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-Book, along with 35 other awesome vegan Jewish comfort food meals, desserts, and sides.
But back to the recipe at hand.
This 5-minute spread is so easy to make in a blender or food processor and you can customize it any way you like. The recipe I provide here is just a base recipe, so go nuts! Or nut-free, as you know I do :)
Vegan cream cheese, or vegan schmear as my people call it, is just as good as dairy cream cheese but it’s actually good FOR you, too.
As you may have guessed from the title, this vegan cream cheese is actually made of tofu, which might seem a little strange. But it’s actually the perfect vessel for flavor, and doesn’t impart a sweet flavor like cashews. And it’s low in fat and calories but high in protein.
Whether you make it savory or sweet, I’ve got a ton of different ideas for you.
Let’s jump into that recipe, shall we?
What You’ll Need
The first thing you’ll need, of course, is tofu. I recommend firm tofu for this recipe.
If your tofu is too wet, like soft tofu, the cream cheese will still taste good but be pretty liquidy. One thing you could do is add something drying like more nutritional yeast or other spices--or you could cook it with some corn starch for a few minutes on the stove to thicken it up.
I would not use silken tofu for this--that would be too liquidy.
Next, this is not a necessity but I think it enhances the flavor to add just a tablespoon of fat. I like to use tahini which is a paste made from just sesame seeds.
The tofu cream cheese is very low in fat, which is healthier than an all nut or dairy cream cheese, but the texture becomes very silky by just adding a little fat. You could also use a tablespoon of cashews (or cashew butter, canned coconut milk, or a tiny bit of oil if you include it in your diet.
For flavor, I included a few spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. Also, nutritional yeast.
We use just a tiny amount of it in this recipe but it lends a nice cheesy flavor.
If you want your cream cheese as close in color to dairy cream cheese as possible, use a non-fortified nutritional yeast.
Regular nutritional yeast is fine though and the flavor will be the same. I just have both on hand since I make a lot of vegan cheeses and sauces, and prefer some things to be lighter in color.
Finally just a splash of apple cider vinegar lends just enough sweetness and tang to replicate the taste of cream cheese without messing with the texture.
Remember, this is just the base recipe for “plain” cream cheese. I have a section below on how to customize it to any flavor you like.
Tips for Making Tofu Cream Cheese
This is one of those recipes that is embarrassingly easy. I say embarrassingly because it’s so easy to explain that it’s silly to even have an instructions section for it.
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and combine until smooth.
- You can add whatever you’d like to flavor it. Be careful not to add too much liquid, though, or it will be less like cream cheese and more like a dressing. If that happens you can still use it as a dip!
- Refrigerate at least two hours to chill. It will firm up a bit.
- If you desire a firmer vegan cream cheese (like the “bricks” you can purchase at the store), try adding a teaspoon or two of agar powder, and cooking the mixture in a small pan on the stovetop for approximately 5 minutes over medium high heat until it gets very thick. Then pour into a container and refrigerate at least 8 hours to set.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
That’s literally it!
Okay, onto the fun part.
How to Customize this Recipe
There are SO MANY ways to customize this vegan cream cheese. I’ll divide it in two: savory and sweet.
- With herbs like chives or dill (pulse or fold these in, don’t pulverize)
- Garlic and herb (add more garlic powder or fresh garlic before blending)
- Extra cheesy (more nutritional yeast + double the garlic & onion powder)
- Spicy (add whatever spice you like--cayenne, chili, chipotle before blending, or pulse in some pickled or fresh jalapeno peppers)
- Tangy (pulse in some pickled red onions or sauerkraut)
- Everything But The Bagel seasoning
- Cajun cream cheese (throw in some Cajun seasoning)
- Sweeten it up with splash of maple syrup or some soaked pitted dates
- Pulse in some chopped fruit like berries
- Blend in a handful of blueberries for a beautiful color and flavor
- Add in a splash of your favorite simple syrup (like mint or lavender)
- Add sweetener and cocoa powder for a chocolate cream cheese, finish with a few chocolate shavings made by dragging your peeler along the edge of a vegan chocolate bar)
How to Use Vegan Cream Cheese
There are so many ways you can use this tofu cream cheese. I used it with bagels and homemade vegan lox and in vegan blintzes in my Plant-Based Jewish Recipes e-Book, but you could also:
- Slather it on homemade vegan bagels or snicker store-bought (just kidding)
- Throw it in your vegan pierogies
- Make it into a lighter cake frosting via my vegan cream cheese frosting
- Use it in a cheese sauce or in place of ricotta in a lasagna bake or vegan manicotti
- Spread it on toast and make a sandwich with it with some veggies.
More Homemade Vegan Condiments
It’s not the sexiest kind of recipe to talk about, but learning to make my own condiments are one of the major things that helped me transition to being vegan.
You’d be surprised how many condiments have animal products in them, or even just a lot of sugar, oil, and preservatives. Here’s a list of a few vegan condiments I’ve created and published on my blog.
- BBQ Sauce
- Vegan Honey Mustard
- Tofu Sour Cream
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Vegan Ricotta
- Quick Vegan Gravy
- Mushroom Gravy
- Vegan Parmesan Topping
- Vegan Tzatziki Sauce
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This tofu cream cheese is:
- A lil’ tangy
- Low in fat
- And great on bagels, as a spread, dip, or dessert topping!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!