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Slices of smoky baked cashew cheese and crackers on platter

Vegan Baked Smoky Cashew Cheese

A Vegan Baked Smoky Cashew Cheese made with whole ingredients, smoked paprika, easy and simple methods for a tangy, cheesy and healthy baked cheese. It slices, it spreads and it is completely dairy-free and oil-free!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword vegan baked smoky cashew cheese, baked cashew cheese
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings 1 6 inch round
Author Brandi Doming

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37g) plain (not seasoned) rice vinegar, please do not sub with another vinegar!
  • 1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce (I use the Annie's brand, it can be found at Sprouts or Whole Foods, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (23g) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) water
  • 2 garlic cloves (roughly chopped (if you love garlic, choose big or choose small for a mild flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • NOTE: I use this food processor for my recipes.

Instructions

  1. You will need a day in advance to make this cheese, there is no way around this and rushing it will result in a gritty cheese. Trust me on this and do not skip soaking the cashews overnight. This makes the nuts very soft and is necessary since so little liquid is used and is needed to get a creamy consistency.
  2. Add your cashews to a bowl and pour boiling water over them by at least an inch at the top. Cover and leave to sit overnight on your counter or 8 hours minimum. Drain them and rinse them well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F (162°C). Line a 6 inch round cake pan with a large piece of parchment paper (see photo) and press it inside the pan and against the sides to make it flat as possible.
  4. Add the soaked/drained cashews to a food processor. Add the rice vinegar, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, lemon juice, water, garlic, smoked paprika and salt. This will not work in a blender, I'm sorry, there is too little liquid and it will never get smooth enough because of the lack of space to go around. Process the mixture for around 30 seconds, scrape down the sides and then blend again for a solid 5 minutes or so until 100% silky smooth and creamy and NO bits of cashews remain. It should be dreamy smooth like the photos. Do not stop processing until it reaches this stage and scrape the sides as needed.
  5. Taste and tell me is that not totally delicious?! If desired, add even more smoked paprika for a stronger smoky flavor or even liquid smoke if you like. The 1 teaspoon smoked paprika gives a smoky flavor that is noticeable but not overwhelming.
  6. This cheese is delicious unbaked too and after chilling in the fridge, will resemble a cream cheese style consistency. So, you can always do that and not bake it as well if you like. The flavor is tangier raw, versus baked as well, both both ways are delicious!
  7. Pour all that yummy cheese mixture into the pan and spread out evenly to the sides and smooth the top.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes for it to be firm and slice-able as pictured. I would advise not going any longer or it can get dry and crumbly. It should just be beginning to crack at the top and be firm.
  9. OR, bake it for 25 minutes for a more soft-style spread for bread and crackers.
  10. Cool 15 minutes and then slice and serve warm. Or, you can chill it in the fridge first. I found that I liked it both ways but the smoky flavor seems stronger while warm.
  11. The end result is cheesy, super tangy, rich and a wonderful depth-of-flavor. I love to add slices the next day from the fridge, put on bread and then slightly toast it. SO GOOD. It would also be awesome topped onto hot soup at serving!