Vegan Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese

Vegan Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese

If there is one major thing I've missed since going vegan, it is CREAM CHEESE. One of my favorite things I indulged in the past was cream cheese on a toasted bagel. That irresistible, incredible, bold tang of cream cheese that is insanely delicious. The tang that is in cream cheese compared to regular cheese is what I love so much. Well, my friends, here is the result of my cream cheese dreams come true, in healthy vegan fruition. Read on to see how I came up with this dreamy stuff.

Most commercial vegan cheeses I've tried were, how do I put this, nasty. Weird, greasy and full of horrible ingredients. That is, until I tried Field Roast Chao cheese. It is incredibly delicious, melts well and tastes just like traditional cheese. They offer 3 flavors and by far, my favorite was their "black pepper" flavor. I love, love black pepper and in a cheese, it's just divine. Only issue is it is of course highly processed and full of oil, 2 things I try to avoid.

Their "black pepper" flavor was what inspired me to create a cream cheese with that flavor. I took it one step further by adding a smoky element...another thing I loved before, was the smoky cheeses. So this recipe is the result of all things in the past I loved so much.

And my friends, this one passed with flying colors with my hubby, daughter and other family members who are NOT vegans. I'm as giddy as can be, knowing I can now have cream cheese again that I can feel good about eating.

Cashew cream cheese is nothing new. Cashews are a vegan's best friend. But every recipe I've come across has involved strange ingredients I've never heard of or really involved steps or draining from cheese cloths....basically things I didn't want to fool with. This is just soaking cashews overnight and then draining and blending in a food processor! I just wanted simple. I like simple. I also wanted a strong tang, more than just lemon juice, and an easy way to achieve that.

So, how did I achieve that amazing tang?? Well, it requires just 8 ingredients (plus water), but specifically 3 very basic ingredients to get that TANG. Nothing fancy you have to go to a special store for. These 3 ingredients achieved that awesome, bold tang I was after.

Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and pickle juice! Yes, pickle juice. For some weird reason (no, I'm not pregnant) I started craving pickles really strongly the past month. Maybe it was a sign from the food Gods, I don't know, but I bought some pickles. I had been working on this recipe a few times and wanted a more depth of tang than just what lemon juice and apple cider vinegar provide. It hit me, the pickle brine! I thought it sounded like the final piece to the cream cheese puzzle. I was right. It provided that extra tang and depth of flavor I was after. Plus, have you all seen the dairy cream cheese dips where people add pickles to the dip? Well, forget that, let's make cream cheese using pickle juice, haha!

Let me know what you think of this Vegan Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese by dropping me feedback below after you make it! I’ll be dying to hear. You can also tag me on Instagram @thevegan8 and don’t forget my hashtag in your caption #thevegan8 so it’s saved to my page and I don’t miss it. Enjoy!

This cream cheese is soy-free, oil-free and coconut-free!

Want more cream cheese ideas? Be sure to try my Strawberry Cream Cheese and Blueberry Cream Cheese!

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Vegan Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews (140 g, unsalted, no other nut will work for this, weigh for accurate results)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (I used Wright's, it's caramel color-free)
  • 2 teaspoons dill pickle juice (I used Trader Joe's pickles, do not omit this! I'm assuming any basic dill pickle juice will work, just don't use sweet!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (increase to 1/2 teaspoon for a strong peppery taste or omit)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Note: I trialed this recipe many times before arriving to the above recipe that I and others absolutely loved, so please don't sub any of the ingredients or change the process below, especially the acidic liquids, as they are the key to this cream cheese flavor. You can leave out the black pepper if you want a more basic cream cheese, but I wouldn't suggest leaving out the liquid smoke, as it does add an extra zing/tang as well, helping to camouflage the cashew flavor. If you really don't want a smoky flavor, then I would increase the apple cider and lemon juice a bit to desired taste. You can customize this with other flavors by adding chopped chives, olives, or sun-dried tomatoes. Have fun with it!

Instructions

  1. Important: I would suggest prepping this 2 days before you want to eat it, for the best results. You must soak the cashews fully overnight before making this, the longer the better. I soaked mine for a good 12 hours or so. You should literally be able to crumble them after soaking, that's how soft you want them. They become extremely soft this way and is how the whipped texture and super creaminess comes about. Even the flavor was better this way. Trust me, I tried a quick boil method with the cashews and it was not as silky smooth or best in flavor. This recipe uses very little water, so trying to skip the long soaking method will affect the results. You want the nuts soft and cool. A food processor is how to get the specific texture, again because very little liquid is used. So, add your cashews to a bowl and cover with warm water and leave to sit on your counter overnight. Drain them the next day and rinse very well. Shake off excess water. UPDATE: I did not have success in a Vitamix, but others have, so just make sure to process as long as possible until it's completely smooth and a whipped texture. Add the liquids before adding the cashews if you use it. I prefer the food processor personally for this.
  2. Add the soaked/drained cashews, water, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to a food processor and process until a paste forms. Scrape the sides a couple of times and process again. You want it relatively smooth, but it doesn't have to be perfect since we are processing again.
  3. Add all of the remaining ingredients, liquid smoke, pickle juice, nutritional yeast, pepper and salt. Process for several minutes. I'm talking, walk away for a couple of minutes and come back. Scrape the sides down and process once more. You want that stuff silky smooth and a whipped like texture. Refer to photos above for a visual.
  4. Once it's completely smooth, transfer to a glass container and store in the fridge overnight. It will thicken and firm up some and get really chilled, making it perfect for your bagel in the morning. You will experience the full flavor and texture after it has chilled overnight. Be patient my friends. Enjoy! Come back please and let me know how you liked it! You can also add some plant milk to this to thin it out and use over pasta, just up the spices/acidity to balance it out!

Notes

Vegan, soy-free, oil-free, coconut-free
Nutrition: I didn't really know how many servings to state this as, since it will be all dependent on how much you load the cheese on your bagel or the purpose you use it for, but it will give substantially enough for at least 6 bagels, so that's how I calculated it.
141.25 calories, 11.1 g fat, 8.93 carbs, 4.6 g protein, 1.5 g sugars, 147.6 mg sodium

130 Comments

  1. It’s been soooo many years since I’ve had cream cheese. I used to be a huge cream cheese girl as a kid, but now that I need it dairy and soy-free, I just never do :/ Silly though since it’s so easy to make!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Well, hello this is dairy and soy-free and coconut-free! Now you can make it, haha! This is so much easier than others I’ve come across that involve too many odd steps or ingredients. This literally is just soaking overnight and then in a food processor. Boom, done. And it has that depth of tang than just vinegar or lemon juice have, all while being super simple, which is a HUGE plus for me because I can now have cream cheese again!!!

    • This sounds amazing, Brandi! I know you said don’t substitute but hubby’s allergic to cashews but I have to try it with sunflower seeds. So stay tuned to the results! Thank you for this (once again) awesome recipe!

  2. Confession: back when I was a cheeseaholic I used to wrap slices of cheese around pickle spears and devour! And, no, I wasn’t pregnant at the time either. The creaminess with the saltiness and the tangy bite. I get it, Brandi, I truly do! This looks delicious!! I’m not a huge fan of pepper, so I might just leave that out, but I think this looks a true winner even without the pepper. I’m sure you could add some finely shredded veggies to this too to make a veggie cream cheese spread. Yummmm! And those bagels…omg, they look to.die.for!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Cheese wrapped around pickles?! Omg that sounds soooo good, lol! Thank you so much Jenn for your kind words! I agree too that this is totally customizable to add any extra veggies. I have other ideas as well. It’s SO dang delicious as is that I’m just going to savor every bit for the time being, haha! My hubby scarfed his first bagel down SO FAST that I knew I finally had a winner. It wasn’t until I added pickle juice did it taste “right” to me! I had done a few trials before and they were good, but not nearly as amazing as with the pickle juice! Oh yes, I died when I found these bagels at Whole Foods…vegan and very small amount of oil. Not gluten-free, but I made an exception with this!

  3. Ahhhh this looks incredible! I also miss cream cheese! What a clever way of minimising waste by using the pickle brine. Can’t wait to try this recipe Brandi!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Sus! I will be making A LOT of cream cheese now! Haha!

  4. Where have you been all my life?! I am a self-proclaimed cream cheese-a-holic. People would tease me and ask if I wanted some bagel with my cream cheese, hahaha! And you are absolutely right – the vegan cream cheeses on the market are just plain gag-inducing; very very weird textures and sour tasting. I’m so glad you came up with such a simplistic recipe – I love anything involving vinegar (Salt & Vinegar chips anyone?!) so I cannot wait to try this version. Thanks again, Brandi!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Hahaha that sounds just like I used to be with bagels and cream cheese! So funny! I would put sooo much on a bagel….and guess what, now I’m doing that with this one now..it’s so unbelievably good and I’m just so happy, lol! I’m so glad somebody else agrees with me on the store kind, I’ve tried commercial cream cheese and found it TOO tangy sour or just weird…can’t really describe it. This one is so much healthier and I LOVE the taste and texture. Let me know after you try it!

  5. I cannot WAIT to try this! We are new to Vegan and the 14 & 16YO’s are doing “OK”. I really think they’d like this! I’d probably try to keep some of this around to add to pasta dishes that need a little bit of creaminess… thank you!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      I’m so glad you mentioned that because it reminded me to add a note to the recipe! You can also thin out this cheese with some plant milk, up the flavors/spices and it totally can go over pasta! I was telling my hubby that a big dollop of this would also be delicious in soups or chilis, yum! Please let me know what everybody thinks after you try it!!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Oh and I wouldn’t tell your kids it’s vegan or “different”…just put it on a toasted bagel and I’m guessing they won’t notice a difference!

  6. Sounds like a winner! I’m sure I would love the black pepper AND the smokiness!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      I sure did!! Even the picky hubby and my 3 year old loved it! The smoky isn’t intense, just adds more tang than anything!

  7. Oh my goodness Brandi!!!!!! Cream cheese is one of my favourite things to eat too – I would always have it with smoked salmon and cucumber on Bagels when I was younger! I’ve been longing to find a dairy free version I could make at home now for so long. This is a dream come true! I definitely need to try this! It looks so amazing!

  8. Your pictures are out of this world Brandi! So beautiful and elegant, wow! To the cream cheese this looks absolutely delicious and I like the use of pickle juice why it is very creative, adds a unique flavor to it. This Recipe is just a winner so we all have a basic recipe and play around with flavors like garlic or herbs.

  9. I know I already ran and messaged you in excitement when I read this, so you know how I feel about pickle juice! Thank god I’m not the only weirdo out there that uses it! I can probably eat this with a spoon. Not sure it will make it onto a bagel…this is happening. And very very soon. Because I have everything needed, especially a jar of pickle juice. Yup, I save the juice sometimes since I use it in dips and stuff. It’s SO tangy and delicious!

  10. Joy

    I am super excited about this! I have grown up with fruity and sweet cream cheese so I may add some dried strawberries or fresh strawberries and omit the water or even add cinnamon to it and put it on toast. I haven’t decided but this is officially on my list of things to try. Thanks so much!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      That is so crazy you mentioned strawberries because that is one of the other versions I’m trying soon for my daughter since she loves strawberries so much! I think the possibilities are endless here! Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  11. My vitamix won’t work??????? Oh, how I wish I still had a food processor, then! It looks wonderful – I used to love a toasted bagel with cream cheese, many years ago:)

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Christine I have found certain things do not work as well in a Vitamix as well as a food processor, this being one of them. Since a food processor has a large bowl and area to process the ingredients and there is very little liquid used, it’s the only way I could get it to work. I’m afraid with the blender, there just isn’t sufficient room. Do you have a wide Vitamix blender container or the other one that is tall and thin? You are welcome to try it, but I’m just letting you know it’s not likely to work without major frustration. You don’t want to have to add any more than 2 tablespoons of water to get it to blend, and that’s why the food processor works so much better in this situation of ingredients. Could you maybe borrow somebody’s?

      • I do have the large jug as well as the small, so I’ll give it a whirl, and if necessary I can then whip it with my beaters!!! Cross your fingers:)

      • Well, the Vitamix broke most of it down, and I then transferred it to a mini processor that came with my Bamix, and I now have a delicious, creamy mix, chilling in the fridge. I didn’t have any dill pickles, so I used a teaspoon each of olive brine and pickled onion brine. I had no cider vinegar either, so used coconut vinegar – it’s a great mix. Thank you:)

        • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

          Hi Christine! I’m so glad you loved it! Thank you for letting me know. Definitely get the pickle juice and apple cider vinegar for next time and you’ll love it even more. Coconut vinegar tastes nothing like apple cider vinegar and pickle juice is very specific, so you’ll be even MORE amazed at the flavor! ?

    • Meg

      As soon as I read that the Vitamix wouldn’t work in making this recipe I thought, challenge accepted! I personally haven’t found anything that hasn’t worked in my Vitamix yet and I wanted to try this recipe SO badly I thought, why not πŸ™‚ I had no problem what so ever using the vitamix, I measured out all of the wet ingredients perfectly and then added them to the blender first, then added my cashews I had soaked for 12 hours overnight after draining them. I turned it to level 1 and let everything get mixed together, had to scrape the sides one time, then turned to 2 and voila- cream cheese! I taste tested it before putting in the fridge to set and I am SO excited- its delish! After having bought vegan “cream cheese” at the store because my fiancee was craving it, we were severely let down- i seriously almost puked after trying it, it was that nasty! Thank you SO SO SO much Brandi! I’m not sure what I did differently but maybe adding in the liquid first and using such a low speed did the trick. If I tried to turn it up beyond 2 it did this weird vibrating thing and didn’t work so well.

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

        Oh I’m so STOKED to hear it worked for you Meg!! It absolutely did not work in mine and I know personally that I always get that more airy, whipped texture in a food processor since there’s so much more room to swirl everything around. Do you have the wide Vitamix blender container? Did it turn out really light and whipped texture?
        I’m so so happy to hear you loved it, thank you so much for the feedback!! I agree, storebought is just NASTY, haha! Thanks again!!

        • Meg

          I just have the regular tall blender! It is probably more fluffy in a food processor but to me the texture is perfect and TASTES AMAZING! I am officially addicted! I will try with a food processor when i can get my hands on my moms so I can compare but just as I made it I’m super happy with it. I am especially excited that it doesn’t melt and get gross on a hot bagel right out of the toaster πŸ™‚ it stays nice and creamy!

          • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

            I’m soo happy to hear you loved this so much Meg!! If you were able to get it really smooth in your blender, then that is great! The food processor just makes it slightly more whipped/airy, but the taste is the same. So glad you are addicted….just like I am, haha! Thanks for the wonderful feedback!

  12. Pickle juice! Who knew? I can’t wait to try this, Brandi. I loved cream cheese too, but I don’t like the processed stuff in the stores. Thanks.

  13. jia

    This may be a silly question but how long will it store in fridge? Thanks πŸ™‚ cant wait to try!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      I am not sure, but I would guess at the very minimum a week at least. It’s not containing any ingredients that I wouldn’t put in cashew based sauces that I’ve kept in the fridge about a week. If it even lasts that long. As long as it isn’t turning moldy, I think it’s fine πŸ™‚ Let me know after you try it!

  14. uumm….HELL YEAH! I had no other words for this delicious-ness…need to make asap..

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Haha…that’s basically what I said after I took a bite….for real!!

  15. Wow, what a gorgeous recipe, Brandi! I’ve made cashew cream cheeses and I also make a tofu-based one, but I’ve never thought to use pickle juice. That’s brilliant! Love it. And those pictures — I’m feeling an urgent need to go get some bagels… πŸ˜‰

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you Audrey so much for the compliments! You really should try this!! Cream cheese dreams I tell ya!

  16. i will make it with out liquid smoke, hopes it still turns out to be a good, not-smoky cream cheese, i shall remember buying some raw cashews later at my grocery shopping yay

  17. WOW! Look at how creamy this is!!!! I’ve made a couple attempts at my own cream cheese, but they’ve all failed. Who would have thought to use some pickle juice?!!? So crazy. That’s the liquid smoke we use in some of our homemade sauces…so good. I can’t wait to try this!!!!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Mandy!! You will love it! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  18. GIRL I AM LOVING THIS RECIPE! HOLY SMOKES!!!!!!! This looks amazing!!!

    I haven’t had a good cream cheese in FOREVER. I had a vegan store-bought cream cheese once (one that everyone raves about) and hated it! This looks absolutely amazing. And I am seriously craving a fresh bagel after this post as well! TOTALLY making this! YUM!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you sooo much my friend!! It really is amazingly delicious, I can’t wait to hear what you think!! I agree too, storebought, YUCK!

  19. I am totally thinking Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches!!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Yes! Let me know when you try it!!

  20. I discovered this recipe and had to make this right away. I had the cashews and ingredients on hand, so why not? It was soooo easy to make and the taste was fantastic! I sure did miss cream cheese and I do not eat oil, so I haven’t had any store bought or vegan cream cheeses in over 4 years. I did not deviate from the recipe at all, and I’m glad. But I have to be honest, I couldn’t wait for day 2. Once I had the cheese in the fridge for a few hours, I had to dip into it. YUM!! Thanks for developing this recipe !!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Haha, I’m so glad you loved it so much Jill! It’s okay dipping into it after a few hours, the most important step is soaking overnight first, which you did! The flavor will even further intensify and thicken as it sits even more. I’m so happy you loved it and thank you so much for leaving feedback! I loved your “Oh My Gawd!” comment after you made it that I saw in the plant-based group, thank you so much, haha! I feel the same way!

  21. Girl, I am so with you on the dill pickle juice. I use it whenever I make vegan ranch dressing/dips. I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Haha, so funny, you are the 4th person to tell me they use pickle juice in their ranch dip or dressings, I really need to try that in my ranch potato salad! It’s definitely new for cream cheese and oh my, it WORKS!! It really made the flavor!

  22. I had to run to my computer since I just finished making this and OMG, it’s amazing! I’ve made a lot of different cream cheese recipes since going vegan and I do buy processed vegan cream cheese but this stuff is extra special and super addicting! It’s setting up in the fridge right now and I can’t wait to try it on an everything bagel in the morning, it will get me out of bed way faster knowing it’s waiting for me : ) Definitely can’t wait 2 days and I can’t imagine it getting better tasting than straight out of the blender (I did have to use my Vitamix since I don’t have a food processor but it worked out great, although I did soak the cashews for over 24 hours and used my small Vitamix container). I dipped pretzels in the leftover cream cheese I scraped out of the bottom of the blender! Will post a pic on IG in the next couple days, was just excited to tell you I made it and it’s awesome!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Nicole, yay!!! I’m so, so happy to hear you love this so much!! Oh girl, just wait til morning when it’s chilled and firm and smooth and on a hot toasted bagel…you will think you are in New York eating one of their bagels, hahaa! Thank you so very much for making it and the awesome feedback! Oh and overnight chilling is plenty, you don’t need to wait 2 days for it to chill! Enjoy my dear!

  23. I have never commented on a blog for a recipe in my life. This shall be the first.

    You. Are. A. Genius..

    I could just end there, but I won’t. I saw your teaser photo for this on Facebook a few days ago and was intrigued. When the recipe was published yesterday, I threw some cashews in water immediately so I could get right on it today!

    Easy to make. Flavor OUTSTANDING! Tastes JUST like cream cheese! The liquid smoke and pickle juice absolutely make the flavor so close to the real thing. It’s unbelievable. You obviously have an outstanding palate to know that it required those flavors. I consider myself to have an outstanding palate, but I never could have guessed that these flavors would be required.

    Thank you SO MUCH! This is a gamechanger. I am now a fan for life! Bravo!!!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Lauren-BEST comment ever! I’m so honored that mine is the 1ST blog you’ve ever commented on, WOW! That is truly a compliment and made my day! I’m beyond excited that you loved this as much as we all have. I wasn’t kidding when I said cream cheese dreams came true! But cruelty-free and it’s sooo much healthier than dairy. It’s like a total dream, lol!
      Thanks again for the compliments so much. My first couple trials were just with the liquid smoke, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar…it was great, but I knew something was missing…it was not until I added that pickle juice that it BECAME cream cheese. I am so persistent until I get a recipe right, especially with something as classic as cream cheese, so I’m ecstatic that you loved it so much! Thanks again for the feedback…can you tell I’m excited?! Haha

      • You’re welcome! You deserve a culinary award for this one…truly…

        I’m going to have to make another batch ASAP because someone (who may or may not be ME) keeps digging a finger in this lusciously creamy stuff every time she goes in the fridge. LOL

        I’ve made lots of plant-based cheeses before. Most use raw cashews. And don’t get me wrong, they are ok…but not like this.

        So nice to “meet” you Brandi!! I’m a fan for life!

        Lauren

  24. I MADE IT!!!!!

    I soaked my cashews for 5 and a half hours in warm water,
    and added pickled cucumber juice instead of dill pickle juice, which i don’t know if they are the same or not.

    Also, i didn’t add liquid smoke since i don’t have.

    I processed them with kitchen aid food processor as you instructed.

    To make them as smooth as possible, i processed them to the extent that the machine got heated up!

    Refrigerated them, and they came out AMAZING. they are not as smooth as the dairy stuff, but who cares, they really tastes good!

    my non-vegan sister said it tasted good and… familiar. i, of course said,”it’s CREAM CHEESE!”

    thank you for the recipe <3

    greeting from veganabby3775 (instagram, haha)

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Yay Abby! I’m so happy you made it and loved it sooo much!! Haha…awesome that even your non-vegan sister liked it! As far as soaking, I would suggest going a full night of soaking, at least 8 hours. I suggest fully overnight because they become extremely soft this way and should easily break with your fingers after soaking. I soaked mine at least 12 hours. This is what will give them the unbelievable smooth texture. It should be as smooth, if not smoother than storebought. Mine was literally like “buttah”, hahaha! Silky smooth, so soak it twice as long next time and it will be even smoother. Regardless though, like you said, you loved it and I’m stoked. Thank you so much for making it and leaving feedback!!

  25. Oh wow! I love cream cheese, and this one looks heavenly! So loved this coconut-free, dairy-free version! Can’t wait to try this!

  26. This looks so incredibly delicious, Brandi! πŸ™‚ I just love cashew cream cheese and I’ll definitely try your recipe. πŸ™‚

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Sina! Definitely try it, it’s the closest to cream cheese of any I’ve had, crazily spot on. I’ve tried others and none of them reminded me of true cream cheese, which is why I came up with this. Hope you give it a try!

  27. I knew I had to make this as soon as I saw it! I was already prepping to make bagels today, so last night I also soaked the cashews for this. Unfortunately I don’t have any pickles right now! So I subbed 1 1/2 tsp of ume plum vinegar instead of pickle juice, since that is actually “pickle juice” from pickling ume plums, so it was as close as I could get. I left out the black pepper and liquid smoke as I didn’t know how they’d go over with my daughters. It turned out fantastic! My husband said “this tastes just like cream cheese! No, it’s BETTER than cream cheese!” Woohoo! Thanks so much! I’ll definitely get some pickles soon and try it again with the pickle juice as well.

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Yay!! I’m so happy to hear this feedback and that your hubby thought it was BETTER than cream cheese!! So awesome to hear, thank you so much for the feedback!

  28. Wow. There is no way I can wait for it to thicken. This is amazing!! Is it bad that I have no plans to eat it other than with a spoon??

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Hi Misti! I’m so glad you loved this and I understand! I can’t keep my spoon out of it either everytime I go to the fridge, haha. It’s delicious straight out of the processor, but it’s even BETTER after it chills and thickens! Thanks again ?

  29. I can’t believe this cream cheese is vegan! It looks so flavorful and delicious–especially with the pickles!

  30. My parents are coming to stay with us next weekend and my mom loves cream cheese on bagels. I’m going to make this for her and see what she thinks! Can’t wait! And I can’t wait to try it myself too! πŸ™‚

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      So awesome to hear Jenn! SO far even all the non-vegans LOVE it and it’s been a huge hit, so I’m hoping your mom will love it too!!

  31. I’m so excited to try this. You put so much work into making each recipe just right. I know the best version of this is as it’s presented but I don’t have any plans to buy liquid smoke, do you think smoked paprika would work? Thanks so much. Michelle

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Hi Michelle, I would just leave it out, I wouldn’t add smoked paprika. It’s not a crucial ingredient, I mean it does add some tang, but the smoked paprika will turn it pink and it’s not necessary to add it. The other acidic ingredients are most important. Thank you so much and I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  32. This is such an innovative recipe! I’d love to try it!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  33. You’re kidding me! I’m a cream cheese junkie and not a vegan, but this is something I will try for sure!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Please do Byron, I think you’ll be amazed at how much it tastes like cream cheese!

  34. Wow I wouldn’t have suspected pickle juice to be the key ingredient to vegan cream cheese! How clever of you to figure that out! I also love that this doesn’t involve cheesecloths or other odd methods! Seems easy and delicious!

  35. I love subbing cashews for dairy for a protein kick! I never thought to make my own cream cheese!!! pure genius! gorgeous photos btw! saving, sharing and now following! πŸ˜‰

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Gwen! It’s truly amazing!!

  36. A wicked recipe! I have so got to try this. Funnily enough I have been craving pickles lately…and no Im not pregnant! lol

  37. Wow! I never tried vegan cream cheese. This one actually looks very easy to make! Definitely cool that you could even convince your family members πŸ˜€

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Yes, soo many non-vegans have been floored over this recipe….and shocked, lol! It’s a winner for sure. I’m thrilled with all the dozens of reviews coming in on it!

  38. Gotta love the black pepper! Love this Brandi!

  39. brandi, I make and love so many of your recipes. I SO wanted a cream cheese recipe and followed this one to the letter. However, mine tastes like cashew cheese–even with extra pickle and lemon juice later, it never lost that cashew taste. So sad.

    I’m posting not to criticize–I love and appreciate your recipes so much. Just wanted to let you know my experience.

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Hi Heidi! Hmm, that’s so odd, you shouldn’t taste the cashews AT ALL! I’ve had dozens of reviews come in on this cream cheese and they’ve all been stellar. I’m curious, did you use roasted cashews by accident by chance? Use the correct weight amount of cashews and soak them a really long time? There shouldn’t be any cashew taste left, I actually cannot stand the taste of cashews, so that was a big one for me to create something that didn’t taste like them, which is why I loved this so much. I want to help and the only thing I can think is you had some roasted cashews by accident, because with the acidic elements added, you shouldn’t taste it, especially after letting it chill overnight in the fridge! I’m working on a nut-free version as well, so if you are really sensitive to cashews, then I think you will love the nut-free one. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for making so many of my recipes, I really appreciate it! πŸ™‚

    • Ana

      I also soooo wanted to love this recipe, I am not vegan but I TRY really hard to eat as many plant based foods and limit my dairy, cream cheese is one of those things that I struggle the most to give up, so when I saw this recipe I was so excited! I followed it exactly as written, I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t taste like cream cheese to me πŸ™ I’m thinking it may be the nutritional yeast that may be throwing me off? It tasted more like cashew cheese, than cream cheese. I know that all of the reviews have been great I just wanted to also let you know my experience. Maybe I’ll leave off the nutritional yeast next time or put less of it, to me cream cheese is not as cheesy as it is this mild and creamy cheese so that may be why.

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

        Hi Ana! Aww bummer! I’m so shocked because I had so many non-vegans taste test this and none of them had a clue there were cashews in them. I don’t taste the cashews at all, especially after it’s chilled over night, which is the true test of the flavor. The lemon juice, pickle juice and liquid smoke completely camouflage it…did you leave any of those out? You know, since you mentioned the nutritional yeast, I know some people are VERY sensitive to it and can taste it a mile away, haha, so yes maybe leave that out next time. OR, I would really recommend my newest cream cheese, Strawberry cream cheese, it has a very strong amazing strawberry flavor that masks 100% any cashew taste and also there is no nutritional yeast in that one. I think you would really like that one! Other than that, since I’ve only heard the mention of cashew flavor twice, I’m wondering if roasted cashews were used by accident b/c you shouldn’t taste them. Anyways, I hope you try the strawberry one and I truly thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚
        http://thevegan8.com/2015/09/05/vegan-strawberry-cream-cheese/

        • Ana

          I didn’t think it was cashew-y (I actually like cashews) I wanna say it was the nutritional yeast, it was my second time trying it and I’m just not too sure about it lol but that strawberry one will be the next one I’ll make and I am sure I’ll love it! I made your sunflower seed brownies and I absolutely loved them! Thank you so much for replying πŸ™‚

          • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

            Ahhh gotcha! Yes, it could very well be your sensitivity to nutritional yeast. I have a friend who cannot stand the taste of it in sauces/dips and can detect it. I definitely think the strawberry one will be more your style. Please leave feedback on that one if you try it, I’d love to hear, thank you so much! πŸ™‚
            Oh, and YAY on the brownies, so glad to hear you loved those so much!

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

        I’m also working on a nut-free cream cheese recipe, so there definitely won’t even be a hint of cashews, so stay tuned πŸ™‚

  40. The smoky black pepper cream cheese is such a wonderful concept. I can’t believe that I haven’t thought of it before. I have vegan friends who don’t eat regular cream cheese, so, this will be perfect for them. Great Recipe.

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much!! It’s soooo good!

  41. Jim

    Made this this weekend for my daughter and son-in-law. Boy was a hit! I made a double batch so they could take it home with them and it ended up being all gone. They thought it was wonderful. Thanks for the recipe it’s a keeper

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Jim for the amazing feedback, I truly appreciate it!!

  42. Brandi – I LOVE this cream cheese!!!! Absolutely delicious!!!! I ate it all by myself over 2 days. I just couldn’t leave it alone. Thank you for a wonderful recipe….my kind of recipe….few ingredients and so simple to make. No need to ever buy over- processed cheese again! Yay!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Aww yay! So thrilled to hear that! You basically described my feelings toward this cream cheese as well. So happy you loved it so much, thank you for the feedback!

  43. Superb recipe, fabulous texture. Used food processor, no problems. Only comments: the liquid smoke was a little pronounced-may decrease or omit next time. My pickle juice tang was on the mild side, will get the TJs brand next time. Thanks for working so hard to unmask the miracles of the vegan food world!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Wonderful to hear Bonnie!! I’m so happy you loved this so much! Feel free to use half the liquid smoke if you are sensitive to it, there isn’t much in the recipe, but it is a pronounced taste and does help with the tang and I love the stuff, haha. I know some don’t like it, so decrease if you like next time. Thanks again for the wonderful feedback!

  44. Hey Brandi…this is so awesome…the photos and the detailed steps have blown me away! I am on the fence about smoked cheese but the pickle juice idea is brilliant. I think I might also try the juice of pickled jalapenos.

    Two thumbs up!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Awww thank you so much Pragati! You are so kind! I hope you try it!

  45. This looks AMAZING, Brandi! I love the shot of the cream cheese in the food processor… so creamy!!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Sarah!

  46. This sounds fantastic! I have one question about the pickle juice. Are we talking about the brine from Kosher dill pickles (like Strubbs) or the juice from a jar of Bick’s dill pickles? Both are sour but they are so very different from one another and I don’t want to mess up my first batch!

    Thanks!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Hi Kirsten! I have never heard of Bick’s dill pickles, so I would just go with kosher dill pickles. You basically just want the classic dill pickle juice for the kind of pickles you would use on a burger. Let me know what you think of the cream cheese after it has chilled, thank you!

  47. WOAH, I completely missed this the first time, Brandi… (crazy summer spent away from the computer)
    So glad I spotted it after the blueberry version. I can’t wait to try this out with my parents. πŸ™‚

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Janet! Let me know how it turns out!

  48. I just finished making this, and it’s really, really good! I’m trying really hard to not devour the whole thing at once. Thanks for the recipe, I will be making it many more times!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Wonderful Andrea! I’m so happy to hear you loved it so much, thank you so much for providing feedback!

  49. Brandi!!!!!!! We made this a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it! After seeing Sophia’s post adding in sun-dried tomatoes, I had to do that too and it was delicious! It literally tastes like the cream cheese I loved during my dairy eating days. I licked the food processor clean! We used this on crackers, in sandwiches and on toast. I need to make another batch soon! Awesome recipe, my friend!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Yay! So awesome to hear Mandy! Thank you so much for making it and leaving such wonderful feedback! I agree, it totally, truly reminded me of dairy cream cheese, yet this one is actually good for you!! Thank you again!

  50. LOVED this recipe! My husband was especially thrilled, said he could eat it EVERY day! We had it on bagels and veggie sandwiches and it was great both times! Can’t wait to make it again! Thank you!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      I’m so happy to hear that this was a hit with both of y’all April! Thank you so much for letting me know, I love hearing the feedback!

  51. I’ve made this twice so far. The second time I wised up and doubled the recipe. To my surprise, it was easier on my cheapie food processor when I doubled it.

    At the risk of sounding redundant, I must say this is one of my favorite recipes from you. It tastes WORLDS better than the nasty chemical-y tasting store bought stuff. It does not even compare, in fact. Just the right amount of smoky tart flavor, and it is so rich tasting.

    I had some on toast and it was delicious, but my current plan is to lop it on baked potatoes. Seems like it would be perfect!

    Thanks again, Brandi…. you continue to amaze me with your creations.

  52. Ooops…. I meant to add that I think this recipe could easily be tweaked for Mexican-flavored dishes. I miss the taste of sour cream on spicy foods, but maybe throwing in a little chipotle seasoning and leaving out the black pepper would do the trick. Next time I shall try. πŸ™‚

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Wow, Caroline! I’m so sorry I missed this wonderful comment when it came through! I’m so happy you loved this so much, I really appreciate your kind words and feedback! I agree that this would be so delicious on Mexican food, the tart flavor would pair nicely with all the Mexican spices!! It’s also really delicious in my smoky potato soup!
      Thanks again for leaving such kind feedback!

  53. I just bought a jar of pickles to make this and when I came back to re-read the recipe I realized that I got sweet pickles ?. Lol I was so excited… now I’m gonna have to wait till I get a different jar!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Oh no! Well let me know when you try it!! πŸ™‚

  54. […] delicious and was very popular. I made it in my BlendTech and it is soooo smooth and creamy.  Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese from The Vegan 8. I’ve made this before and knew it would be great. I soaked the cashews longer this time […]

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you for the link up and I’m so happy you loved this cream cheese so much!! πŸ™‚

  55. I know I’ve said this before and I know I will say this many times in the future but you are a GENIOUS Brandi! Made this cream cheese earlier this week and it tasted absolutely amazing and was so easy to do! Even though this by itself was perfect I think this recipe is also easily adapted so next time I will add some sundried tomatoes and olives as that used to be my favorite flavor! Thank you πŸ™‚

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Thank you so much Milla for such fantastic feedback! I loved your beautiful pic on Instagram! Thank you so much for your kind words and always making my recipes, so glad you loved this cream cheese as much as we do!

  56. Eva

    I made this and enjoyed it this morning on a whole grain bagel. It really is amazing!! I like it better than cream cheese. πŸ™‚

    • Eva

      Sorry…forgot to rate it! 5 stars!

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

        Thank you so much Eva! I’m so happy to hear you loved it more than regular cream cheese, yay!!

  57. Hi Brandi! I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe soon (all those glowing reviews!!) after stumbling upon it (and your blog) on Pinterest. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing what kind of food processor you use? I’m on the hunt for a new one since mine just petered out. I have a Vitamix, but it sounds like this might turn out better in a food processor so it’s motivation to buy a new one, and instead of reading reviews on Amazon for hours I’d rather just ask a trusted food blogger. Thanks in advance!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Hi Emma! Several have made it in their vitamix but it didn’t work in mine. I have the thinner container and it just will not get as smooth, which is so important for the cream cheese. I have an 11 cup cuisinart food processor and it is simply amazing, I use it daily! Here is the one I have! http://amzn.to/1PBXRAY

      • Thanks so much. It’s on the list! I just started reading your blog and I love it. Sad I missed the food processor giveaway πŸ™‚ looking forward to trying a bunch of your recipes this weekend.

        • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

          Thank you so much Emma, can’t wait to hear what you think! Please come back and let me know πŸ™‚

  58. I left out the pickle juice, smoke, and pepper, and this made a very nice basic cream cheese. It worked great in my Vitamix (tall container); I had no problems at all but I did use the tamper a little. Thanks for the tip about soaking the cashews; I usually skip that but I soaked them this time and I know it wouldn’t have turned out otherwise.

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Wonderful Dianna! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this, thank you so much for the feedback! You should try the strawberry or blueberry ones too, they are really delicious!

  59. I made this this weekend and am so in love with it. I recently transitioned to veganism from vegetarianism and was looking for a soy-free and coconut-free cream cheese recipe — this hit the nail on the head! Another winner, Brandi! I have yet to try anything from your blog that disappoints me in any way — yay you!

    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

      Awww thank you so much Sarah, that means so much to me! Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it and the kind words. Happy you loved this too!

  60. This cream cheese is absolutely phenomenal! I made it last night! It’s all gone already:) Brandi, you are the best!

  61. Hi Brandi,

    I stumbled upon your website and was thrilled to find all your wonderful vegan recipes!! Thank you so much for all the amazing recipes you provide. I just made your smoky black pepper cream cheese today but am confused how yours in your picture looks so white when mine looks almond colored. It’s not a big deal but am wondering if I am not using all the right ingredients as you did. I followed your recipe to the letter but it doesn’t look as white as yours. Any thoughts as to why that might be?

    Thanks again for all your hard work and effort to give us all super tasty vegan recipes to love and enjoy!!! Please keep up the good work. I will be following your website for yummy recipes as a go-to for sure.

    You rock!
    Linda

    • It most likely has to do with the type of liquid smoke you used! Mine wasn’t white either but still tasted amazing. The moment I put the liquid smoke in, it became a little more brownish.. Still darn good though!

      • brandi.doming@yahoo.com

        It could be that, or more likely the nutritional yeast. Some brands are very orange and can really alter the color.

  62. This turned out perfect! I absolutely love it. It is the best vegan cream cheese I’ve had, and I’ve bought a lot of them. I can’t thank you enough.

  63. I just made this with a food processor and stuck to all of your instructions.. and it was heavenly already! :):) πŸ™‚ I am so happy, it tastes so good, it’s like eating liquid Nacho cheese chips (although I realize that sounds really gross).. Anyhow, it’s really delicious and I can’t wait for the flavour to become even richer (hope it’s not too much!) in the fridge. Planning to take it to a vegan potluck and as I have just become a vegan I am now confident I’ve got something amazing to serve, rather than something ‘meh’.
    Probably going to make this every once in a while for over sandwiches or in the weekends, thanks so much Brandi! Also made your vegan nacho cheese yesterday (the one with zucchini) which was a great success and this is another show stopper. I hereby declare you my favourite vegan blogger! <3 Greetings from Holland!

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