If you love caramel, I have no doubt that this vegan caramel cheesecake will quickly become one of your favorite desserts. It has a salty pretzel cookie crust, a sweet caramel non-dairy cheesecake filling, and is covered with lashings of vegan caramel.
The vegan cheesecake itself is flavored and topped with my easy homemade vegan caramel sauce. It's so good you'll probably end up eating from the spoon during the process!
What makes this caramel cheesecake so good
- No-bake and easy to make.
- Super creamy texture and tangy cheesecake flavor.
- Sweet and salty flavor combination.
- Eggless and dairy-free.
- Made without tofu.
- This recipe isn't nut-free, but if you're looking for a caramel cheesecake without nuts check out my vegan caramel chocolate cheesecake.
Ingredients you'll need
- Gingernut cookies or any vegan cookies of your choice will work. I love the combination of ginger and caramel, but you could also use Biscoff cookies, graham crackers, or digestive biscuits.
- Pretzels are added to the base to give a salty contrast to the sweet caramel cheesecake filling. They're also used to top the cheesecake. Usually, I would add sea salt to the base of cheesecakes but in this case, the pretzels have got that covered.
- Vegan butter is what binds together the cookies and pretzels for the cheesecake crust. I recommend using vegan block butter, not the spreadable kind from a tub. You could also use solid coconut oil in its place if you don't mind the taste of coconut!
- Cashews give the cheesecake filling a wonderfully rich and creamy consistency. They also provide that cheesy flavor.
- Vegan cream cheese is another key ingredient for the filling. I usually use Violife, but because this vegan cheesecake is no-bake, you can go for any vegan cream cheese that you like the flavor of, as the consistency doesn't need to hold up through baking.
- Vegan yogurt adds lightness to the cheesecake filling and gives it an irresistibly creamy consistency. Trust me, you won't want to skip this ingredient, you can use non-dairy Greek-style yogurt or regular soy or coconut yogurt.
- Homemade vegan caramel sauce is the main flavoring and sweetener for this cheesecake. You could of course also try a store-bought vegan caramel sauce such as Nature's Charm. We won't be adding any maple syrup or additional sweeteners to the filling. I also found there was no need to add lemon juice to the filling, which is present in a lot of my other vegan cheesecake recipes. So I've left that as an optional ingredient depending on your taste.
- Coconut oil is what helps the cheesecake to set once chilled.
- Vanilla extract for another layer of flavor.
- Some optional toppings include vegan toffee popcorn and caramel shards.
How to make this recipe
(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)
Cookie pretzel crust
The no-bake cookie crust for this cheesecake is so easy and comes together in just a couple of steps. First add the dry ingredients to your food processor, which in this case is the cookies and pretzels. Blitz them down into a fine crumb consistency.
Next add in the vegan butter, which is your wet ingredient that will bind together the cookie and pretzel mixture. Blend again for a couple of minutes until the ingredients begin to stick together, forming a dough consistency.
For the last step for the crust, simply press the crust mixture down into the base of a cake pan lined with parchment paper. You can use the back of a spoon, a flat-bottomed glass, or a cup measure to press and compact it down.
Caramel cheesecake filling
Before you get to making the filling, hop over and make this vegan caramel sauce as you'll need it for the filling.
Next, you'll simply add all of the filling ingredients to a high-speed blender, which includes the vegan caramel sauce, cashews, non-dairy cream cheese and yogurt, vanilla extract, and coconut oil.
Blend the ingredients until completely smooth and creamy without any lumps. You can find more tips on how to get the best filling consistency in my guide to vegan cheesecakes.
Pour the caramel cheesecake batter into your prepared cake tin and place it in the freezer to set.
How to decorate vegan caramel cheesecake
You can choose to keep this cheesecake simple with a thick layer of vegan caramel sauce on top. But why stop at just the caramel layer, you can go all out with the toppings and make this a really fancy cheesecake!
Some ideas for toppings include:
- Vegan toffee popcorn.
- Homemade caramel shards, as shown on Food52 and Taste.
- Flaky sea salt/Maldon flakes.
- Crushed gingernut cookies.
- Nuts such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds.
Place the caramel cheesecake in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, but you can also freeze it if keeping it for longer.
As mentioned you can also freeze the cheesecake in an airtight container for up to a couple of months. I recommend first slicing the cheesecake into individual portions so that you can defrost them as needed. Then just allow them to sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.
- This recipe calls for half a batch of vegan caramel sauce, but I strongly recommend making a full batch. This stuff tastes good on literally everything, vegan ice cream, brownies, you name it!
- Quick soak your cashews. As with all of my cheesecake recipes that use cashews, they'll first require soaking If you're caught for time, instead of soaking them in water for 4 hours you can quick-soak them in boiling water for an hour! I've also used them after soaking for about 30 minutes and they've been just fine. It really depends on the quality of your blender and what it can handle.
- Use a springform pan if you have one. It makes it easier to remove the cheesecake once set. But don't worry if you have just a regular cake pan, you can rub a hot warm cloth around the edges of the pan which will also make removing the cheesecake much easier Just remember, the pan must have a removable base.
More vegan cheesecake recipes
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- 100 g (3.5 oz) gingernut cookies, or other vegan cookies
- 55 g (2 oz) pretzels
- 60 g (4 ½ tbsp) vegan block butter, or solid coconut oil
- 200 g (1 ½ cups) cashews, soaked *see recipe notes
- 180 g (6.35 oz) vegan caramel sauce, *see recipe notes
- 300 g (10.6 oz) vegan cream cheese
- 120 g (½ cup) vegan Greek-style yogurt , or plain soy or coconut yogurt
- 30 g (2 ½ tbsp) coconut oil, solid
- 1 teaspoon (1 tsp) vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (1 tbsp) lemon juice , optional
- 200 g (7 oz) vegan caramel sauce, *see recipe notes
- 50 g (1.75 oz) pretzels, optional
- 60 g (2 oz) vegan toffee popcorn, optional
- caramel shards, optional, see blog post
- Make the vegan caramel sauce.
- Line the bottom and sides of a 7.5 or 8" cake tin (with removable base) with some parchment paper.
- Add the cookies and pretzels to your food processor and blitz for about a minute until evenly finely ground. Add in the vegan butter and blend again until evenly combined and the mixture sticks together between your fingers. Press the cookie mixture into the base of the cake tin, and smooth it out with a ¼ cup measure or flat bottomed glass, making sure it is compact. Set aside in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Add all of the filling ingredients to a high-speed blender and blitz for several minutes until smooth and creamy with no lumps. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and place back in the freezer to set for a minimum of 4 hours (or overnight if preferred).
- Once set, remove the cake from the tin whilst frozen. Allow it to defrost at room temperature for about an hour.
- Pour the vegan caramel sauce on top of a cake, using a spatula to spread it over the edges. Top with pretzels, popcorn, and caramel shards if you're using them.
- Place the cheesecake in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the cheesecake in an airtight container for up to a couple of months. I recommend first slicing the cheesecake into individual portions so that you can defrost them as needed. Then just allow them to sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.
- Soaked cashews: Soak the cashews in water for 4 hours, rinse and drain, or quick soak your cashews by soaking them in boiling water for one hour.
- Vegan caramel sauce: This recipe won't use a full batch of caramel sauce, you can use any leftover sauce to serve alongside the cheesecake or as a topping for other desserts.
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*This recipe was originally published on April 3rd, 2020 as Vegan Toffee Popcorn Cheesecake. The recipe has since been improved and was last updated on 16th March 2022 to minimize the ingredients used, simplify the instructions and make it even more delicious!