Homemade tofu cream cheese is a wonderful thing to have lying around in your fridge. Dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free, it makes for a delicious and healthy snack, tasty spread for sandwiches and wraps, or nice addition to a pasta sauce.
This oil-free recipe is low in fat while still delivering the goods, with the miso paste and fresh dill adding layers of flavour for your tastebuds to enjoy. Everything then comes to life with lemon juice, salt, and chives (optional).
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What is vegan cream cheese?
Vegan cream cheese is a plant-based twist on dairy cream cheese products. Commonly made with tofu or nuts such as cashews or almonds, it's becoming easier to find in supermarkets – at least here in the UK.
While many products might use vegan cheese cultures for flavour and/or coconut oil for a smoother texture, this simplified version is oil-free for a homemade alternative that's lower in calories.
Is it healthy?
This oil-free recipe results in a soft cheese substitute that's low in fat and also a complete source of plant-based protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids).
Tofu contains healthy nutrients such as iron and calcium, and has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Just one small serving of this recipe contains:
- Calories: 77 kcal
- Protein: 8 grams (16% of RDA)
- Iron: 1 mg (6% of RDA)
- Calcium: 88 mg (9% of RDA)
(Amounts based on a third-party nutrition calculator)
Herbs for vegan cream cheese
Herbs aren't essential in this recipe, but they do take the final product to another level and you'll often find them added to dairy cream cheese products. If possible, I'd recommend using the winning combination of fresh dill and chives.
Does tofu need to be cooked?
Tofu does not need to be cooked before eating. Available in varying degrees of firmness, it can make its way into desserts, smoothies, and recipes like this vegan cream cheese.
What you'll need
This simple recipe involves a few essential ingredients and a few optional extras. You'll need:
- Extra-firm tofu for the base
- Nutritional yeast for a slightly cheesy flavour
- Acidity from the cider vinegar and lemon juice
- Optional extras including white miso paste, dill, and chives
How to make tofu cream cheese
If using extra-firm tofu, you shouldn't need to press the water out of it.
Simply drain the tofu, break it into chunks, and add to a food processor.
Add the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice (start with a small amount and adjust up to taste), nutritional yeast, miso paste, dill, and a pinch of salt.
Blend for a minute or two, stopping to scrape down the sides as you go.
If the mix is looking too thick or crumbly after a couple of minutes, add a little water or plant-based milk and blend again until smooth. I'd start with a few tablespoons of extra liquid and work up from there as necessary.
Once you have a smooth consistency, mix in chopped chives (optional) and adjust the seasoning to taste. I'll sometimes add a little extra salt and usually extra lemon juice, but this totally depends on your own taste.
Serve and enjoy!
Enjoy the tofu cream cheese on vessels such as oatcakes, crackers, or toast.
You could use it as a dip, add it to wraps with other fillings, or have yourself some fancy schmancy vegan cucumber sandwiches.
It also works well as a way to add creaminess (and protein) to sauces, especially for pasta. It'll thicken or dry out the sauce on its own, so be sure to add extra liquid (such as pasta cooking water) to get the desired consistency.
I like the texture that you get from extra-firm tofu, however softer varieties or even silken tofu would probably be fine here. Note that the water content will vary, so you may want to press your tofu and/or limit the amount of extra liquid you add.
Provided you use a GF miso paste and plant-based milk, this recipe will be gluten-free (those ingredients usually are GF, but it's worth checking if you're concerned). If you're unsure, simply omit the miso paste and use water instead of plant-based milk.
Store the tofu cream cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. I would avoid freezing it as the texture may change once defrosted.
If you'd like a slightly silkier texture, try adding a few tablespoons of melted coconut oil (note that this will drastically increase the amount of saturated fat in the recipe).
Variations and tips for tofu cream cheese
- Texture: You'll want to blend this for a good minute or two to get an idea of how much extra liquid you'll need to add.
- Herbs: I love the combination of dill and chives, but you could easily leave these out.
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Tofu Cream Cheese (Oil-Free)
- 14 oz (400 g) plain extra-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (start smaller and adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste (optional, see GF note)
- 5-6 sprigs fresh dill (plus more to taste, optional)
- Salt to taste
- Water or plant-based milk
- Chives (optional)
- If using extra-firm tofu, you shouldn't need to press the water out of it. Simply drain, break into chunks, and add to a food processor.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice (start with a small amount and adjust up to taste), nutritional yeast, miso paste, dill, and a pinch of salt. Blend for a minute or two, stopping to scrape down the sides as you go.
- If the mix is looking too thick or crumbly after a couple of minutes, add a little water or plant-based milk and blend again until smooth. I'd start with a few tablespoons of extra liquid and work up from there as necessary.
- Once you have a smooth consistency, mix in chopped chives (optional) and adjust the seasoning to taste. I'll sometimes add a little extra salt and usually extra lemon juice, but this totally depends on your own taste.
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